Coral Reefs

Page 78

Burton (Lyell's "Principles of Geology," 5th edition, volume iv., page 25.) found a deposit replete with existing species of shells, at the height of 200 feet. In an admirable series of drawings by Captain Moresby, I could see how continuously the cliff-bounded low plains of this formation extended with a nearly equable height, both on the eastern and western shores. The southern coast of Arabia seems to have been subjected to the same elevatory movement, for Dr. Malcolmson found at Sahar low cliffs containing shells and corals, apparently of recent species.

The PERSIAN GULF abounds with coral-reefs; but as it is difficult to distinguish them from sand-banks in this shallow sea, I have coloured only some near the mouth; towards the head of the gulf Mr. Ainsworth (Ainsworth's "Assyria and Babylon," page 217.) says that the land is worn into terraces, and that the beds contain organic remains of existing forms. The WEST INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO of "fringed" islands, alone remains to be mentioned; evidence of an elevation within a late tertiary epoch of nearly the whole of this great area, may be found in the works of almost all the naturalists who have visited it. I will give some of the principal references in a note. (On Florida and the north shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Rogers' "Report to Brit. Assoc." volume iii., page 14.--On the shores of Mexico, Humboldt, "Polit. Essay on New Spain," volume i., page 62. (I have also some corroborative facts with respect to the shores of Mexico.)--Honduras and the Antilles, Lyell's "Principles," 5th edition, volume iv., page 22.--Santa Cruz and Barbadoes, Prof. Hovey, "Silliman's Journal", volume xxxv., page 74.--St. Domingo, Courrojolles, "Journ de Phys." tom. liv., page 106.--Bahamas, "United Service Journal", No. lxxi., pages 218 and 224. Jamaica, De la Beche, "Geol. Man." page 142.--Cuba, Taylor in "Lond. and Edin. Mag." volume xi., page 17. Dr. Daubeny also, at a meeting of the Geolog. Soc., orally described some very modern beds lying on the N.W. parts of Cuba. I might have added many other less important references.)

It is very remarkable on reviewing these details, to observe in how many instances fringing-reefs round the shores, have coincided with the existence on the land of upraised organic remains, which seem, from evidence more or less satisfactory, to belong to a late tertiary period. It may, however, be objected, that similar proofs of elevation, perhaps, occur on the coasts coloured blue in our map: but this certainly is not the case with the few following and doubtful exceptions.

The entire area of the Red Sea appears to have been upraised within a modern period; nevertheless I have been compelled (though on unsatisfactory evidence, as given in the Appendix) to class the reefs in the middle part, as barrier-reefs; should, however, the statements prove accurate to the less height of the tertiary bed in this middle part, compared with the northern and southern districts, we might well suspect that it had subsided subsequently to the general elevation by which the whole area has been upraised. Several authors (Ellis, in his "Polynesian Researches," was the first to call attention to these remains (volume i., page 38), and the tradition of the natives concerning them. See also Williams, "Nar. of Missionary Enterprise," page 21; also Tyerman and G. Bennett, "Journal of Voyage," volume i., page 213; also Mr. Couthouy's "Remarks," page 51; but this principal fact, namely, that there is a mass of upraised coral on the narrow peninsula of Tiarubu, is from hearsay evidence; also Mr. Stutchbury, "West of England Journal," No. i., page 54. There is a passage in Von Zach, "Corres. Astronom." volume x., page 266, inferring an uprising at Tahiti, from a footpath now used, which was formerly impassable; but I particularly inquired from several native chiefs, whether they knew of any change of this kind, and they were unanimous in giving me an answer in the negative.) have stated that they have observed shells and corals high up on the mountains of the Society Islands,--a group encircled by barrier-reefs, and, therefore, supposed to have subsided: at Tahiti Mr.

Charles Darwin

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