Coral Reefs

Page 80

tcairn Island, the only one in this part of the ocean which is high, and at the same time not surrounded by an encircling barrier-reef.


Before making some concluding remarks on the relations of the spaces coloured blue and red, it will be convenient to consider the position on our map of the volcanoes historically known to have been in action. It is impossible not to be struck, first with the absence of volcanoes in the great areas of subsidence tinted pale and dark blue,--namely, in the central parts of the Indian Ocean, in the China Sea, in the sea between the barriers of Australia and New Caledonia, in the Caroline, Marshall, Gilbert, and Low Archipelagoes; and, secondly, with the coincidence of the principal volcanic chains with the parts coloured red, which indicates the presence of fringing-reefs; and, as we have just seen, the presence in most cases of upraised organic remains of a modern date. I may here remark that the reefs were all coloured before the volcanoes were added to the map, or indeed before I knew of the existence of several of them.

The volcano in Torres Strait, at the northern point of Australia, is that which lies nearest to a large subsiding area, although situated 125 miles within the outer margin of the actual barrier-reef. The Great Comoro Island, which probably contains a volcano, is only twenty miles distant from the barrier-reef of Mohila; Ambil volcano, in the Philippines, is distant only a little more than sixty miles from the atoll-formed Appoo reef: and there are two other volcanoes in the map within ninety miles of circles coloured blue. These few cases, which thus offer partial exceptions to the rule, of volcanoes being placed remote from the areas of subsidence, lie either near single and isolated atolls, or near small groups of encircled islands; and these by our theory can have, in few instances, subsided to the same amount in depth or area, as groups of atolls. There is not one active volcano within several hundred miles of an archipelago, or even a small group of atolls. It is, therefore, a striking fact that in the Friendly Archipelago, which owes its origin to the elevation of a group of atolls, two volcanoes, and, perhaps, others are known to be in action: on the other hand, on several of the encircled islands in the Pacific, supposed by our theory to have subsided, there are old craters and streams of lava, which show the effects of past and ancient eruptions. In these cases, it would appear as if the volcanoes had come into action, and had become extinguished on the same spots, according as the elevating or subsiding movements prevailed.

There are some other coasts on the map, where volcanoes in a state of action concur with proofs of recent elevation, besides those coloured red from being fringed by coral-reefs. Thus I hope to show in a future volume, that nearly the whole line of the west coast of South America, which forms the greatest volcanic chain in the world, from near the equator for a space of between 2,000 and 3,000 miles southward, has undergone an upward movement during a late geological period. The islands on the north-western shores of the Pacific, which form the second greatest volcanic chain, are very imperfectly known; but Luzon, in the Philippines, and the Loo Choo Islands, have been recently elevated; and at Kamtschatka (At Sedanka, in latitude 58 deg N. (Von Buch's "Descrip. des Isles Canaries," page 455). In a forthcoming part, I shall give the evidence referred to with respect to the elevation of New Zealand.) there are extensive tertiary beds of modern date. Evidence of the same nature, but not very satisfactory, may be detected in Northern New Zealand where there are two volcanoes. The co-existence in other parts of the world of active volcanoes, with upraised beds of a modern tertiary origin, will occur to every geologist. (During the subterranean disturbances which took place in Chile, in 1835, I have shown ("Geolog.

Charles Darwin

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