It may be remarked that the superficial ridges are in planes, at right angles to an axis, transverse to the longer axis of the flattened oval: to explain this circumstance, we may suppose that when the bomb burst, the axis of rotation changed.


The flanks of Green Mountain and the surrounding country are covered by a great mass, some hundred feet in thickness, of loose fragments. The lower beds generally consist of fine-grained, slightly consolidated tuffs (Some of this peperino, or tuff, is sufficiently hard not to be broken by the greatest force of the fingers.), and the upper beds of great loose fragments, with alternating finer beds. (On the northern side of the Green Mountain a thin seam, about an inch in thickness, of compact oxide of iron, extends over a considerable area; it lies conformably in the lower part of the stratified mass of ashes and fragments. This substance is of a reddish- brown colour, with an almost metallic lustre; it is not magnetic, but becomes so after having been heated under the blowpipe, by which it is blackened and partly fused. This seam of compact stone, by intercepting the little rain-water which falls on the island, gives rise to a small dripping spring, first discovered by Dampier. It is the only fresh water on the island, so that the possibility of its being inhabited has entirely depended on the occurrence of this ferruginous layer.) One white ribbon- like layer of decomposed, pumiceous breccia, was curiously bent into deep unbroken curves, beneath each of the large fragments in the superincumbent stratum. From the relative position of these beds, I presume that a narrow- mouthed crater, standing nearly in the position of Green Mountain, like a great air-gun, shot forth, before its final extinction, this vast accumulation of loose matter. Subsequently to this event, considerable dislocations have taken place, and an oval circus has been formed by subsidence. This sunken space lies at the north-eastern foot of Green Mountain, and is well represented in Map 2. Its longer axis, which is connected with a N.E. and S.W. line of fissure, is three-fifths of a nautical mile in length; its sides are nearly perpendicular, except in one spot, and about four hundred feet in height; they consist, in the lower part, of a pale basalt with feldspar, and in the upper part, of the tuff and loose ejected fragments; the bottom is smooth and level, and under almost any other climate a deep lake would have been formed here. From the thickness of the bed of loose fragments, with which the surrounding country is covered, the amount of aeriform matter necessary for their projection must have been enormous; hence we may suppose it probable that after the explosions vast subterranean caverns were left, and that the falling in of the roof of one of these produced the hollow here described. At the Galapagos Archipelago, pits of a similar character, but of a much smaller size, frequently occur at the bases of small cones of eruption.


In the neighbourhood of Green Mountain, fragments of extraneous rock are not unfrequently found embedded in the midst of masses of scoriae. Lieutenant Evans, to whose kindness I am indebted for much information, gave me several specimens, and I found others myself. They nearly all have a granitic structure, are brittle, harsh to the touch, and apparently of altered colours.

FIRST, a white syenite, streaked and mottled with red; it consists of well- crystallised feldspar, numerous grains of quartz, and brilliant, though small, crystals of hornblende. The feldspar and hornblende in this and the succeeding cases have been determined by the reflecting goniometer, and the quartz by its action under the blowpipe. The feldspar in these ejected fragments, like the glassy kind in the trachyte, is from its cleavage a potash-feldspar.

SECONDLY, a brick-red mass of feldspar, quartz, and small dark patches of a decayed mineral; one minute particle of which I was able to ascertain, by its cleavage, to be hornblende.

Volcanic Islands Page 26

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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