The Cataclysm is the name given to the event at the start of The Suffering, which caused earthquakes and an army of malefactors to be released onto the island. It is referred to by Clem in his journal on the malefactors, and is widely believed to be the trigger of the wave of destruction that beset both Carnate and Baltimore.
Torque's presence on Carnate is presumed to be the catalyst in beginning the Cataclysm, as the earthquakes and Slayer attacks began mere minutes after he arrived in his cell in Abbott State Penitentary. This may be due to the imense emotional and mental trauma Torque has endured prior to his arrival, and his presence has brought about the darkest aspects of the island, personified as Malefactors.
Interestingly, Torque's presence in an area is thought to draw in and attract Malefactors, as seen in Eastern State Penitentary and when he reached his apartment in the Ties That Bind.