Within this same crater, strata of coarse tuff, chiefly composed of fragments of lava, abut, like a consolidated talus, against the inside walls. They rise to a height of between one hundred and one hundred and fifty feet above the surface of the internal brine-lake; they dip inwards, and are inclined at an angle varying from thirty to thirty-six degrees. They appear to have been formed beneath water, probably at a period when the sea occupied the hollow of the crater. I was surprised to observe that beds having this great inclination did not, as far as they could be followed, thicken towards their lower extremities.


(FIGURE 13. A SECTIONAL SKETCH OF THE HEADLANDS FORMING BANKS' COVE, showing the diverging crateriform strata, and the converging stratified talus. The highest point of these hills is 817 feet above the sea.)

This harbour occupies part of the interior of a shattered crater of tuff larger than that last described. All the tuff is compact, and includes numerous fragments of lava; it appears like a subaqueous deposit. The most remarkable feature in this crater is the great development of strata converging inwards, as in the last case, at a considerable inclination, and often deposited in irregular curved layers. These interior converging beds, as well as the proper, diverging crateriform strata, are represented in Figure 13, a rude, sectional sketch of the headlands, forming this Cove. The internal and external strata differ little in composition, and the former have evidently resulted from the wear and tear, and redeposition of the matter forming the external crateriform strata. From the great development of these inner beds, a person walking round the rim of this crater might fancy himself on a circular anticlinal ridge of stratified sandstone and conglomerate. The sea is wearing away the inner and outer strata, and especially the latter; so that the inwardly converging strata will, perhaps, in some future age, be left standing alone--a case which might at first perplex a geologist. (I believe that this case actually occurs in the Azores, where Dr. Webster "Description" page 185, has described a basin-formed, little island, composed of STRATA OF TUFF, dipping inwards and bounded externally by steep sea-worn cliffs. Dr. Daubeny supposes "Volcanoes" page 266, that this cavity must have been formed by a circular subsidence. It appears to me far more probable, that we here have strata which were originally deposited within the hollow of a crater, of which the exterior walls have since been removed by the sea.)


Two craters of tuff on this island are the only remaining ones which require any notice. One of them lies a mile and a half inland from Puerto Grande: it is circular, about the third of a mile in diameter, and 400 feet in depth. It differs from all the other tuff-craters which I examined, in having the lower part of its cavity, to the height of between one hundred and one hundred and fifty feet, formed by a precipitous wall of basalt, giving to the crater the appearance of having burst through a solid sheet of rock. The upper part of this crater consists of strata of the altered tuff, with a semi-resinous fracture. Its bottom is occupied by a shallow lake of brine, covering layers of salt, which rest on deep black mud. The other crater lies at the distance of a few miles, and is only remarkable from its size and perfect condition. Its summit is 1,200 feet above the level of the sea, and the interior hollow is 600 feet deep. Its external sloping surface presented a curious appearance from the smoothness of the wide layers of tuff, which resembled a vast plastered floor. Brattle Island is, I believe, the largest crater in the Archipelago composed of tuff; its interior diameter is nearly a nautical mile. At present it is in a ruined condition, consisting of little more than half a circle open to the south; its great size is probably due, in part, to internal degradation, from the action of the sea.


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Charles Darwin

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