d'Orbigny found fourteen species of existing shells (six of them identical with those from Bahia Blanca), embedded in their natural positions. ("Voyage" etc. page 54.) From the zone of depth which these shells are known to inhabit, they must have been uplifted thirty-two feet. He also found, at from fifteen to twenty feet above this bed, the remains of an ancient beach.

Ten miles southward, but 120 miles to the west, at Port S. Antonio, the Officers employed on the Survey assured me that they saw many old sea- shells strewed on the surface of the ground, similar to those found on other parts of the coast of Patagonia. At San Josef, ninety miles south in nearly the same longitude, I found, above the gravel, which caps an old tertiary formation, an irregular bed and hillock of sand, several feet in thickness, abounding with shells of Patella deaurita, Mytilus Magellanicus, the latter retaining much of its colour; Fusus Magellanicus (and a variety of the same), and a large Balanus (probably B. Tulipa), all now found on this coast: I estimated this bed at from eighty to one hundred feet above the level of the sea. To the westward of this bay, there is a plain estimated at between two hundred and three hundred feet in height: this plain seems, from many measurements, to be a continuation of the sandstone platform of the river Negro. The next place southward, where I landed, was at Port Desire, 340 miles distant; but from the intermediate districts I received, through the kindness of the Officers of the Survey, especially from Lieutenant Stokes and Mr. King, many specimens and sketches, quite sufficient to show the general uniformity of the whole line of coast. I may here state, that the whole of Patagonia consists of a tertiary formation, resting on and sometimes surrounding hills of porphyry and quartz: the surface is worn into many wide valleys and into level step-formed plains, rising one above another, all capped by irregular beds of gravel, chiefly composed of porphyritic rocks. This gravel formation will be separately described at the end of the chapter.

My object in giving the following measurements of the plains, as taken by the Officers of the Survey, is, as will hereafter be seen, to show the remarkable equability of the recent elevatory movements. Round the southern parts of Nuevo Gulf, as far as the River Chupat (seventy miles southward of San Josef), there appear to be several plains, of which the best defined are here represented.

(In the following Diagrams: 1. Baseline is Level of sea. 2. Scale is 1/20 of inch to 100 feet vertical. 3. Height is shown in feet thus: An. M. always stands for angular or trigonometrical measurement. Ba. M. always stands for barometrical measurement. Est. always stands for estimation by the Officers of the Survey.


From East (sea level) to West (high): Terrace 1. 80 Est. Terrace 2. 200-220 An. M. Terrace 3. 350 An. M.)

The upper plain is here well defined (called Table Hills); its edge forms a cliff or line of escarpment many miles in length, projecting over a lower plain. The lowest plain corresponds with that at San Josef with the recent shells on its surface. Between this lowest and the uppermost plain, there is probably more than one step-formed terrace: several measurements show the existence of the intermediate one of the height given in Diagram 1.


From East (sea level) to West (high): Terrace 1. 250 An. M. Terrace 2. 330 An. M. Terrace 3. 580 An. M. Terraces 4, 5 and 6 not measured. Terrace 7. 1,200 Est.)

Near the north headland of the great Bay of St. George (100 miles south of the Chupat), two well-marked plains of 250 and 330 feet were measured: these are said to sweep round a great part of the Bay. At its south headland, 120 miles distant from the north headland, the 250 feet plain was again measured. In the middle of the bay, a higher plain was found at two neighbouring places (Tilli Roads and C.

Charles Darwin

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