Edmondston, in a letter to Professor E. Forbes, states that in dredging in the Bay of Valparaiso, he found the common species of Concholepas, Fissurella, Trochus, Monoceros, Chitons, etc., living in abundance from the beach to a depth of seven fathoms; and dead shells occurred only a few fathoms deeper. The common Turritella cingulata was dredged up living at even from ten to fifteen fathoms; but this is a species which I did not find here amongst the upraised shells. Considering this fact of the species being all littoral or sub-littoral, considering their occurrence at various heights, their vast numbers, and their generally comminuted state, there can be little doubt that they were left on successive beach-lines during a gradual elevation of the land. The presence, however, of so many whole and perfectly preserved shells appears at first a difficulty on this view, considering that the coast is exposed to the full force of an open ocean: but we may suppose, either that these shells were thrown during gales on flat ledges of rock just above the level of high-water mark, and that during the elevation of the land they are never again touched by the waves, or, that during earthquakes, such as those of 1822, 1835, and 1837, rocky reefs covered with marine-animals were it one blow uplifted above the future reach of the sea. This latter explanation is, perhaps, the most probable one with respect to the beds at Concepcion entirely composed of the Mytilus Chiloensis, a species which lives below the lowest tides; and likewise with respect to the great beds occurring both north and south of Valparaiso, of the Mesodesma donaciforme,--a shell which, as I am informed by Mr. Cuming, inhabits sandbanks at the level of the lowest tides. But even in the case of shells having the habits of this Mytilus and Mesodesma, beds of them, wherever the sea gently throws up sand or mud, and thus protects its own accumulations, might be upraised by the slowest movement, and yet remain undisturbed by the waves of each new beach-line.

It is worthy of remark, that nowhere near Valparaiso above the height of twenty feet, or rarely of fifty feet, I saw any lines of erosion on the solid rocks, or any beds of pebbles; this, I believe, may be accounted for by the disintegrating tendency of most of the rocks in this neighbourhood. Nor is the land here modelled into terraces: Mr. Alison, however, informs me, that on both sides of one narrow ravine, at the height of 300 feet above the sea, he found a succession of rather indistinct step-formed beaches, composed of broken shells, which together covered a space of about eighty feet vertical.

I can add nothing to the accounts already published of the elevation of the land at Valparaiso, which accompanied the earthquake of 1822 (Dr. Meyen "Reise um Erde" Th. 1 s. 221, found in 1831 seaweed and other bodies still adhering to some rocks which during the shock of 1822 were lifted above the sea.): but I heard it confidently asserted, that a sentinel on duty, immediately after the shock, saw a part of a fort, which previously was not within the line of his vision, and this would indicate that the uplifting was not horizontal: it would even appear from some facts collected by Mr. Alison, that only the eastern half of the bay was then elevated. Through the kindness of this same gentleman, I am able to give an interesting account of the changes of level, which have supervened here within historical periods: about the year 1680 a long sea-wall (or Prefil) was built, of which only a few fragments now remain; up to the year 1817, the sea often broke over it, and washed the houses on the opposite side of the road (where the prison now stands); and even in 1819, Mr. J. Martin remembers walking at the foot of this wall, and being often obliged to climb over it to escape the waves. There now stands (1834) on the seaward side of this wall, and between it and the beach, in one part a single row of houses, and in another part two rows with a street between them. This great extension of the beach in so short a time cannot be attributed simply to the accumulation of detritus; for a resident engineer measured for me the height between the lowest part of the wall visible, and the present beach-line at spring-tides, and the difference was eleven feet six inches. The church of S.

South American Geology Page 33

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