Scrope had in his mind, when he speaks ("Geolog. Transact." volume 2 second series page 228) of the ribboned structure of his trachytic rocks, having arisen, from "a linear extension of the mass, while in a state of imperfect liquidity, coupled with a concretionary process."), in precisely the same manner as Professor Forbes believes, that the ice of moving glaciers is stretched and fissured. In both cases, the zones may be compared to those in the finest agates; in both, they extend in the direction in which the mass has flowed, and those exposed on the surface are generally vertical: in the ice, the porous laminae are rendered distinct by the subsequent congelation of infiltrated water, in the stony feldspathic lavas, by subsequent crystalline and concretionary action. The fragment of glassy obsidian in Mr. Stokes' collection, which is zoned with minute air-cells must strikingly resemble, judging from Professor Forbes' descriptions, a fragment of the zoned ice; and if the rate of cooling and nature of the mass had been favourable to its crystallisation or to concretionary action, we should here have had the finest parallel zones of different composition and texture. In glaciers, the lines of porous ice and of minute crevices seem to be due to an incipient stretching, caused by the central parts of the frozen stream moving faster than the sides and bottom, which are retarded by friction: hence in glaciers of certain forms and towards the lower end of most glaciers, the zones become horizontal. May we venture to suppose that in the feldspathic lavas with horizontal laminae, we see an analogous case? All geologists, who have examined trachytic regions, have come to the conclusion, that the lavas of this series have possessed an exceedingly imperfect fluidity; and as it is evident that only matter thus characterised would be subject to become fissured and to be formed into zones of different tensions, in the manner here supposed, we probably see the reason why augitic lavas, which appear generally to have possessed a high degree of fluidity, are not, like the feldspathic lavas, divided into laminae of different composition and texture. (Basaltic lavas, and many other rocks, are not unfrequently divided into thick laminae or plates, of the same composition, which are either straight or curved; these being crossed by vertical lines of fissure, sometimes become united into columns. This structure seems related, in its origin, to that by which many rocks, both igneous and sedimentary, become traversed by parallel systems of fissures.) Moreover, in the augitic series, there never appears to be any tendency to concretionary action, which we have seen plays an important part in the lamination of rocks, of the trachytic series, or at least in rendering that structure apparent.

Whatever may be thought of the explanation here advanced of the laminated structure of the rocks of the trachytic series, I venture to call the attention of geologists to the simple fact, that in a body of rock at Ascension, undoubtedly of volcanic origin, layers often of extreme tenuity, quite straight, and parallel to each other, have been produced;--some composed of distinct crystals of quartz and diopside, mingled with amorphous augitic specks and granular feldspar,--others entirely composed of these black augitic specks, with granules of oxide of iron,--and lastly, others formed of crystalline feldspar, in a more or less perfect state of purity, together with numerous crystals of feldspar, placed lengthways. At this island, there is reason to believe, and in some analogous cases, it is certainly known, that the laminae have originally been formed with their present high inclination. Facts of this nature are manifestly of importance, with relation to the structural origin of that grand series of plutonic rocks, which like the volcanic have undergone the action of heat, and which consist of alternate layers of quartz, feldspar, mica and other minerals.


Lavas of the feldspathic, basaltic, and submarine series. Section of Flagstaff Hill and of the Barn. Dikes. Turk's Cap and Prosperous Bays. Basaltic ring. Central crateriform ridge, with an internal ledge and a parapet. Cones of phonolite. Superficial beds of calcareous sandstone. Extinct land-shells. Beds of detritus. Elevation of the land. Denudation. Craters of elevation.

Volcanic Islands Page 42

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Charles Darwin

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