Jago, in the Cape de Verde Islands, that where a great stream of molten lava has flowed over a calcareous bottom into the sea, the outermost film, which in other parts resembles pitchstone, is changed, apparently by its contact with the carbonate of lime, into a resin-like substance, precisely like the best characterised specimens of the tuff from this archipelago. (The concretions containing lime, which I have described at Ascension, as formed in a bed of ashes, present some degree of resemblance to this substance, but they have not a resinous fracture. At St. Helena, also, I found veins of a somewhat similar, compact, but non- resinous substance, occurring in a bed of pumiceous ashes, apparently free from calcareous matter: in neither of these cases could heat have acted.)

To return to the two craters: one of them stands at the distance of a league from the coast, the intervening tract consisting of a calcareous tuff, apparently of submarine origin. This crater consists of a circle of hills some of which stand quite detached, but all have a very regular, qua- qua versal dip, at an inclination of between thirty and forty degrees. The lower beds, to the thickness of several hundred feet, consist of the resin- like stone, with embedded fragments of lava. The upper beds, which are between thirty and forty feet in thickness, are composed of a thinly stratified, fine-grained, harsh, friable, brown-coloured tuff, or peperino. (Those geologists who restrict the term of "tuff" to ashes of a white colour, resulting from the attrition of feldspathic lavas, would call these brown-coloured strata "peperino.") A central mass without any stratification, which must formerly have occupied the hollow of the crater, but is now attached only to a few of the circumferential hills, consists of a tuff, intermediate in character between that with a resin-like, and that with an earthy fracture. This mass contains white calcareous matter in small patches. The second crater (520 feet in height) must have existed until the eruption of a recent, great stream of lava, as a separate islet; a fine section, worn by the sea, shows a grand funnel-shaped mass of basalt, surrounded by steep, sloping flanks of tuff, having in parts an earthy, and in others a semi-resinous fracture. The tuff is traversed by several broad, vertical dikes, with smooth and parallel sides, which I did not doubt were formed of basalt, until I actually broke off fragments. These dikes, however, consist of tuff like that of the surrounding strata, but more compact, and with a smoother fracture; hence we must conclude, that fissures were formed and filled up with the finer mud or tuff from the crater, before its interior was occupied, as it now is, by a solidified pool of basalt. Other fissures have been subsequently formed, parallel to these singular dikes, and are merely filled with loose rubbish. The change from ordinary scoriaceous particles to the substance with a semi-resinous fracture, could be clearly followed in portions of the compact tuff of these dikes.


At the distance of a few miles from these two craters, stands the Kicker Rock, or islet, remarkable from its singular form. It is unstratified, and is composed of compact tuff, in parts having the resin-like fracture. It is probable that this amorphous mass, like that similar mass in the case first described, once filled up the central hollow of a crater, and that its flanks, or sloping walls, have since been worn quite away by the sea, in which it stands exposed.


A bare, undulating tract, at the eastern end of Chatham Island, is remarkable from the number, proximity, and form of the small basaltic craters with which it is studded. They consist, either of a mere conical pile, or, but less commonly, of a circle, of black and red, glossy scoriae, partially cemented together. They vary in diameter from thirty to one hundred and fifty yards, and rise from about fifty to one hundred feet above the level of the surrounding plain.

Volcanic Islands Page 56

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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