A table (Table 1) of the measurements is given below. The angular measurements and all the estimations (in feet) are by the Officers of the Survey; the barometrical ones by myself:--

TABLE 1.

Gallegos River to Coy Inlet (partly angular partly estimation) 350 South Side of Santa Cruz (angular and barometric) 355 North Side of Santa Cruz (angular and barometric) 330 Bird Island, plain opposite to (angular) 350 Port Desire, plain extending far along coast (barometric) 330 St. George's Bay, north promontory (angular) 330 Table Land, south of New Bay (angular) 350

A plain, varying from 245 to 255 feet, seems to extend with much uniformity from Port Desire to the north of St. George's Bay, a distance of 170 miles; and some approximate measurements (in feet), also given in Table 2 below, indicate the much greater extension of 780 miles:--

TABLE 2.

Coy Inlet, south of (partly angular and partly estimation) 200 to 300 Port Desire (barometric) 245 to 255 C. Blanco (angular) 250 North Promontory of St. George's Bay (angular) 250 South of New Bay (angular) 200 to 220 North of S. Josef (estimation) 200 to 300 Plain of Rio Negro (angular) 200 to 220 Bahia Blanca (estimation) 200 to 300

The extension, moreover, of the 560 to 580, and of the 80 to 100 feet, plains is remarkable, though somewhat less obvious than in the former cases. Bearing in mind that I have not picked these measurements out of a series, but have used all those which represented the edges of plains, I think it scarcely possible that these coincidences in height should be accidental. We must therefore conclude that the action, whatever it may have been, by which these plains have been modelled into their present forms, has been singularly uniform.

These plains or great terraces, of which three and four often rise like steps one behind the other, are formed by the denudation of the old Patagonian tertiary beds, and by the deposition on their surfaces of a mass of well-rounded gravel, varying, near the coast, from ten to thirty-five feet in thickness, but increasing in thickness towards the interior. The gravel is often capped by a thin irregular bed of sandy earth. The plains slope up, though seldom sensibly to the eye, from the summit edge of one escarpment to the foot of the next highest one. Within a distance of 150 miles, between Santa Cruz to Port Desire, where the plains are particularly well developed, there are at least seven stages or steps, one above the other. On the three lower ones, namely, those of 100 feet, 250 feet, and 350 feet in height, existing littoral shells are abundantly strewed, either on the surface, or partially embedded in the superficial sandy earth. By whatever action these three lower plains have been modelled, so undoubtedly have all the higher ones, up to a height of 950 feet at S. Julian, and of 1,200 feet (by estimation) along St. George's Bay. I think it will not be disputed, considering the presence of the upraised marine shells, that the sea has been the active power during stages of some kind in the elevatory process.

We will now briefly consider this subject: if we look at the existing coast-line, the evidence of the great denuding power of the sea is very distinct; for, from Cape St. Diego, in latitude 54 degrees 30' to the mouth of the Rio Negro, in latitude 31 degrees (a length of more than eight hundred miles), the shore is formed, with singularly few exceptions, of bold and naked cliffs: in many places the cliffs are high; thus, south of the Santa Cruz, they are between eight and nine hundred feet in height, with their horizontal strata abruptly cut off, showing the immense mass of matter which has been removed. Nearly this whole line of coast consists of a series of greater or lesser curves, the horns of which, and likewise certain straight projecting portions, are formed of hard rocks; hence the concave parts are evidently the effect and the measure of the denuding action on the softer strata.

South American Geology Page 19

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