from the book, "Petrified Lightning"
During the 17th century the Jamaican town of Port Royal was a hangout for pirates and all manner of criminals—definitely a haven for the underworld. Until June 7, 1692. On that day the city was struck by a devastating earthquake that destroyed more than two—thirds of Port Royal and killed over 2,000 of its inhabitants. The survivors saw this as a divine warning. Most major crime virtually ended forever.
The earthquake caused the crime—ridden northern port of the city to slide into the sea. Perhaps as a grim reminder of "sin—city days," intact buildings can still be seen under water!
Scientists now appear to know the exact time of day the earthquake occurred. In 1956, from the submerged ruins, research divers recovered a coral—crusted pocket watch made in 1686. Laboratory x—rays later revealed that the steel hands had stopped when the watch made contact with the water at 17 minutes before 12. The moment of the earthquake was thus recorded on the timepiece of one of the victims, assuming the watch was keeping the right time. What still puzzles the scientists is, was the watch recording a.m. or p.m.?
A similar, earlier incident was also the result of a tectonic event. In 1967 U.S. scientists investigated a recurrent Indian legend of sunken ruins on the floor of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. According to the legend, an intense earthquake caused the lake waters to inundate some pre—Inca temples built near its shore.
Scientists who endured the dangers of diving at such a high altitude found it was well worth the risks. They were rewarded by being able to swim among the ruins of ancient buildings, wharves, and well—defined pathways. The quake must have hit with extreme suddenness; evidence indicates that a number of small boats were still tied to the docks when they went down. Their owners never really tried to salvage them. Perhaps they felt the gods wanted the boats more than they did.
No timepieces marked this moment of passing, but the remains are from a civilization well over 2,000 years old.