Northward of Copiapo, in latitude 26 degrees S., the old voyager Wafer found immense numbers of sea-shells some miles from the coast. (Burnett's "Collection of Voyages" volume 4 page 193.) At Cobija (latitude 22 degrees 34') M. d'Orbigny observed beds of gravel and broken shells, containing ten species of recent shells; he also found, on projecting points of porphyry, at a height of 300 feet, shells of Concholepas, Chiton, Calyptraea, Fissurella, and Patella, still attached to the spots on which they had lived. M. d'Orbigny argues from this fact, that the elevation must have been great and sudden ("Voyage, Part Geolog." page 94. M. d'Orbigny (page 98), in summing up, says: "S'il est certain (as he believes) que tous les terrains en pente, compris entre la mer et les montagnes sont l'ancien rivage de la mer, on doit supposer, pour l'ensemble, un exhaussement que ce ne serait pas moindre de deux cent metres; il faudrait supposer encore que ce soulevement n'a point ete graduel;...mais qu'il resulterait d'une seule et meme cause fortuite," etc. Now, on this view, when the sea was forming the beach at the foot of the mountains, many shells of Concholepas, Chiton, Calyptraea, Fissurella, and Patella (which are known to live close to the beach), were attached to rocks at a depth of 300 feet, and at a depth of 600 feet several of these same shells were accumulating in great numbers in horizontal beds. From what I have myself seen in dredging, I believe this to be improbable in the highest degree, if not impossible; and I think everyone who has read Professor E. Forbes's excellent researches on the subject, will without hesitation agree in this conclusion.): to me it appears far more probable that the movement was gradual, with small starts as during the earthquakes of 1822 and 1835, by which whole beds of shells attached to the rocks were lifted above the subsequent reach of the waves. M. d'Orbigny also found rolled pebbles extending up the mountain to a height of at least six hundred feet. At Iquique (latitude 20 degrees 12' S.), in a great accumulation of sand, at a height estimated between one hundred and fifty and two hundred feet, I observed many large sea-shells which I thought could not have been blown up by the wind to that height. Mr. J.H. Blake has lately described these shells: he states that "inland toward the mountains they form a compact uniform bed, scarcely a trace of the original shells being discernible; but as we approach the shore, the forms become gradually more distinct till we meet with the living shells on the coast." ("Silliman's American Journal of Science" volume 44 page 2.) This interesting observation, showing by the gradual decay of the shells how slowly and gradually the coast must have been uplifted, we shall presently see fully confirmed at Lima. At Arica (latitude 18 degrees 28'), M. d'Orbigny found a great range of sand-dunes, fourteen leagues in length, stretching towards Tacna, including recent shells and bones of Cetacea, and reaching up to a height of 300 feet above the sea. ("Voyage" etc. page 101.) Lieutenant Freyer has given some more precise facts: he states (In a letter to Mr. Lyell "Geological Proceedings" volume 2 page 179.) that the Morro of Arica is about four hundred feet high; it is worn into obscure terraces, on the bare rock of which he found Balini and Milleporae adhering. At the height of between twenty and thirty feet the shells and corals were in a quite fresh state, but at fifty feet they were much abraded; there were, however, traces of organic remains at greater heights. On the road from Tacna to Arequipa, between Loquimbo and Moquegua, Mr. M. Hamilton found numerous recent sea shells in sand, at a considerable distance from the sea. ("Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal" volume 30 page 155.)


Northward of Arica, I know nothing of the coast for about a space of five degrees of latitude; but near Callao, the port of Lima, there is abundant and very curious evidence of the elevation of the land. The island of San Lorenzo is upwards of one thousand feet high; the basset edges of the strata composing the lower part are worn into three obscure, narrow, sloping steps or ledges, which can be seen only when standing on them: they probably resemble those described by Lieutenant Freyer at Arica.

Charles Darwin

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