Helena" plate 5.): Mr. Seale states, that one near the Barn, in a height of 1,260 feet, decreases in width only four inches,--from nine feet at the bottom, to eight feet and eight inches at the top. On the ridge, the dikes appear to have been guided in their course, to a considerable degree, by the alternating soft and hard strata: they are often firmly united to the harder strata, and they preserve their parallelism for such great lengths, that in very many instances it was impossible to conjecture, which of the beds were dikes, and which streams of lava. The dikes, though so numerous on this ridge, are even more numerous in the valleys a little south of it, and to a degree I never saw equalled anywhere else: in these valleys they extend in less regular lines, covering the ground with a network, like a spider's web, and with some parts of the surface even appearing to consist wholly of dikes, interlaced by other dikes.

From the complexity produced by the dikes, from the high inclination and anticlinal dip of the strata of the basal series, which are overlaid, at the opposite ends of the short ridge, by two great masses of different ages and of different composition, I am not surprised that this singular section has been misunderstood. It has even been supposed to form part of a crater; but so far is this from having been the case, that the summit of Flagstaff Hill once formed the lower extremity of a sheet of lava and ashes, which were erupted from the central, crateriform ridge. Judging from the slope of the contemporaneous streams in an adjoining and undisturbed part of the island, the strata of the Flagstaff Hill must have been upturned at least twelve hundred feet, and probably much more, for the great truncated dikes on its summit show that it has been largely denuded. The summit of this hill now nearly equals in height the crateriform ridge; and before having been denuded, it was probably higher than this ridge, from which it is separated by a broad and much lower tract of country; we here, therefore, see that the lower extremities of a set of lava-streams have been tilted up to as great a height as, or perhaps greater height than, the crater, down the flanks of which they originally flowed. I believe that dislocations on so grand a scale are extremely rare in volcanic districts. (M. Constant Prevost "Mem. de la Soc. Geolog." tome 2 observes that "les produits volcaniques n'ont que localement et rarement meme derange le sol, a travers lequel ils se sont fait jour.") The formation of such numbers of dikes in this part of the island shows that the surface must here have been stretched to a quite extraordinary degree: this stretching, on the ridge between Flagstaff and Barn Hills, probably took place subsequently (though perhaps immediately so) to the strata being tilted; for had the strata at that time extended horizontally, they would in all probability have been fissured and injected transversely, instead of in the planes of their stratification. Although the space between the Barn and Flagstaff Hill presents a distinct anticlinal line extending north and south, and though most of the dikes range with much regularity in the same line, nevertheless, at only a mile due south of the ridge the strata lie undisturbed. Hence the disturbing force seems to have acted under a point, rather than along a line. The manner in which it has acted, is probably explained by the structure of Little Stony-top, a mountain 2,000 feet high, situated a few miles southward of the Barn; we there see, even from a distance, a dark-coloured, sharp, wedge of compact columnar rock, with the bright-coloured feldspathic strata, sloping away on each side from its uncovered apex. This wedge, from which it derives its name of Stony-top, consists of a body of rock, which has been injected whilst liquified into the overlying strata; and if we may suppose that a similar body of rock lies injected, beneath the ridge connecting the Barn and Flagstaff, the structure there exhibited would be explained.

Volcanic Islands Page 45

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Charles Darwin

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