labiata. Besides these shells, cellular, highly crystalline rock, formed of the casts of small bivalves, is found near Ensenada; and likewise beds of sea-shells, which from their appearance appear to have lain on the surface. Sir W. Parish has given me some of these shells, and M. d'Orbigny pronounces them to be:--

1. Buccinanops globulosum, d'Orbigny.

2. Olivancillaria auricularia, d'Orbigny.

3. Venus flexuosa, Lam.

4. Cytheraea (imperfect).

5. Mactra Isabellei, d'Orbigny.

6. Ostrea pulchella, d'Orbigny.

Besides these, Sir W. Parish procured ("Buenos Ayres" etc. by Sir W. Parish page 168.) (as named by Mr. G.B. Sowerby) the following shells:--

7. Voluta colocynthis.

8. Voluta angulata.

9. Buccinum (not spec.?).

All these species (with, perhaps, the exception of the last) are recent, and live on the South American coast. These shell-beds extend from one league to six leagues from the Plata, and must lie many feet above its level. I heard, also, of beds of shells on the Somborombon, and on the Rio Salado, at which latter place, as M. d'Orbigny informs me, the Mactra Isabellei and Venus sinuosa are found.

During the elevation of the Provinces of La Plata, the waters of the ancient estuary have but little affected (with the exception of the sand- hills on the banks of the Parana and Uruguay) the outline of the land. M. Parchappe, however, has described groups of sand dunes scattered over the wide extent of the Pampas southward of Buenos Ayres (D'Orbigny "Voyage Geolog." page 44.), which M. d'Orbigny attributes with much probability to the action of the sea, before the plains were raised above its level. (Before proceeding to the districts southward of La Plata, it may be worth while just to state, that there is some evidence that the coast of Brazil has participated in a small amount of elevation. Mr. Burchell informs me, that he collected at Santos (latitude 24 degrees S.) oyster-shells, apparently recent, some miles from the shore, and quite above the tidal action. Westward of Rio de Janeiro, Captain Elliot is asserted (see Harlan "Med. and Phys. Res." page 35 and Dr. Meigs in "Transactions of the American Philosophical Society"), to have found human bones, encrusted with sea-shells, between fifteen and twenty feet above the level of the sea. Between Rio de Janeiro and Cape Frio I crossed sandy tracts abounding with sea-shells, at a distance of a league from the coast; but whether these tracts have been formed by upheaval, or through the mere accumulation of drift sand, I am not prepared to assert. At Bahia (latitude 13 degrees S.), in some parts near the coast, there are traces of sea-action at the height of about twenty feet above its present level; there are also, in many parts, remnants of beds of sandstone and conglomerate with numerous recent shells, raised a little above the sea-level. I may add, that at the head of Bahia Bay there is a formation, about forty feet in thickness, containing tertiary shells apparently of fresh-water origin, now washed by the sea and encrusted with Balini; this appears to indicate a small amount of subsidence subsequent to its deposition. At Pernambuco (latitude 8 degrees S.), in the alluvial or tertiary cliffs, surrounding the low land on which the city stands, I looked in vain for organic remains, or other evidence of changes in level.)


The coast as far as Bahia Blanca (in latitude 39 degrees S.) is formed either of a horizontal range of cliffs, or of immense accumulations of sand-dunes. Within Bahia Blanca, a small piece of tableland, about twenty feet above high-water mark, called Punta Alta, is formed of strata of cemented gravel and of red earthy mud, abounding with shells (with others lying loose on the surface), and the bones of extinct mammifers. These shells, twenty in number, together with a Balanus and two corals, are all recent species, still inhabiting the neighbouring seas. They will be enumerated in the Fourth Chapter, when describing the Pampean formation; five of them are identical with the upraised ones from near Buenos Ayres. The northern shore of Bahia Blanca is, in main part, formed of immense sand-dunes, resting on gravel with recent shells, and ranging in lines parallel to the shore.

Charles Darwin

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