With respect to the breadth of the upraised area in an east and west line, we know from the shells found at the Inner Narrows of the Strait of Magellan, that the entire width of the plain, although there very narrow, has been elevated. It is probable that in this southernmost part of the continent, the movement has extended under the sea far eastward; for at the Falkland Islands, though I could not find any shells, the bones of whales have been noticed by several competent observers, lying on the land at a considerable distance from the sea, and at the height of some hundred feet above it. ("Voyages of the 'Adventure' and 'Beagle'" volume 2 page 227. And Bougainville's "Voyage" tome 1 page 112.) Moreover, we know that in Tierra del Fuego the boulder formation has been uplifted within the recent period, and a similar formation occurs on the north-western shores (Byron Sound) of these islands. (I owe this fact to the kindness of Captain Sulivan, R.N., a highly competent observer. I mention it more especially, as in my Paper (page 427) on the Boulder Formation, I have, after having examined the northern and middle parts of the eastern island, said that the formation was here wholly absent.) The distance from this point to the Cordillera of Tierra del Fuego, is 360 miles, which we may take as the probable width of the recently upraised area. In the latitude of the R. Santa Cruz, we know from the shells found at the mouth and head, and in the middle of the valley, that the entire width (about 160 miles) of the surface eastward of the Cordillera has been upraised. From the slope of the plains, as shown by the course of the rivers, for several degrees northward of the Santa Cruz, it is probable that the elevation attested by the shells on the coast has likewise extended to the Cordillera. When, however, we look as far northward as the provinces of La Plata, this conclusion would be very hazardous; not only is the distance from Maldonado (where I found upraised shells) to the Cordillera great, namely, 760 miles, but at the head of the estuary of the Plata, a N.N.E. and S.S.W. range of tertiary volcanic rocks has been observed (This volcanic formation will be described in Chapter IV. It is not improbable that the height of the upraised shells at the head of the estuary of the Plata, being greater than at Bahia Blanca or at San Blas, may be owing to the upheaval of these latter places having been connected with the distant line of the Cordillera, whilst that of the provinces of La Plata was in connection with the adjoining tertiary volcanic axis.), which may well indicate an axis of elevation quite distinct from that of the Andes. Moreover, in the centre of the Pampas in the chain of Cordova, severe earthquakes have been felt (See Sir W. Parish's work on "La Plata" page 242. For a notice of an earthquake which drained a lake near Cordova, see also Temple's "Travels in Peru." Sir W. Parish informs me, that a town between Salta and Tucuman (north of Cordova) was formerly utterly overthrown by an earthquake.); whereas at Mendoza, at the eastern foot of the Cordillera, only gentle oscillations, transmitted from the shores of the Pacific, have ever been experienced. Hence the elevation of the Pampas may be due to several distinct axes of movement; and we cannot judge, from the upraised shells round the estuary of the Plata, of the breadth of the area uplifted within the recent period.

Not only has the above specified long range of coast been elevated within the recent period, but I think it may be safely inferred from the similarity in height of the gravel-capped plains at distant points, that there has been a remarkable degree of equability in the elevatory process. I may premise, that when I measured the plains, it was simply to ascertain the heights at which shells occurred; afterwards, comparing these measurements with some of those made during the Survey, I was struck with their uniformity, and accordingly tabulated all those which represented the summit-edges of plains. The extension of the 330 to 355 feet plain is very striking, being found over a space of 500 geographical miles in a north and south line.

Charles Darwin

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