The lavas of this basal series lie immediately beneath both the basaltic and feldspathic rocks. According to Mr. Seale, they may be seen at intervals on the sea-beach round the entire island. ("Geognosy of the Island of St. Helena." Mr. Seale has constructed a gigantic model of St. Helena, well worth visiting, which is now deposited at Addiscombe College, in Surrey.) In the sections which I examined, their nature varied much; some of the strata abound with crystals of augite; others are of a brown colour, either laminated or in a rubbly condition; and many parts are highly amygdaloidal with calcareous matter. The successive sheets are either closely united together, or are separated from each other by beds of scoriaceous rock and of laminated tuff, frequently containing well-rounded fragments. The interstices of these beds are filled with gypsum and salt; the gypsum also sometimes occurring in thin layers. From the large quantity of these two substances, from the presence of rounded pebbles in the tuffs, and from the abundant amygdaloids, I cannot doubt that these basal volcanic strata flowed beneath the sea. This remark ought perhaps to be extended to a part of the superincumbent basaltic rocks; but on this point, I was not able to obtain clear evidence. The strata of the basal series, whenever I examined them, were intersected by an extraordinary number of dikes.


(FIGURE 8. FLAGSTAFF HILL AND THE BARN. (Section West (left) to East (right)) Flagstaff Hill, 2,272 feet high to The Barn, 2,015 feet high.

The double lines represent the basaltic strata; the single, the basal submarine strata; the dotted, the upper feldspathic strata; the dikes are shaded transversely.)

I will now describe some of the more remarkable sections, and will commence with these two hills, which form the principal external feature on the north-eastern side of the island. The square, angular outline, and black colour of the Barn, at once show that it belongs to the basaltic series; whilst the smooth, conical figure, and the varied bright tints of Flagstaff Hill, render it equally clear, that it is composed of the softened, feldspathic rocks. These two lofty hills are connected (as is shown in Figure 8) by a sharp ridge, which is composed of the rubbly lavas of the basal series. The strata of this ridge dip westward, the inclination becoming less and less towards the Flagstaff; and the upper feldspathic strata of this hill can be seen, though with some difficulty, to dip conformably to the W.S.W. Close to the Barn, the strata of the ridge are nearly vertical, but are much obscured by innumerable dikes; under this hill, they probably change from being vertical into being inclined into an opposite direction; for the upper or basaltic strata, which are about eight hundred or one thousand feet in thickness, are inclined north-eastward, at an angle between thirty and forty degrees.

This ridge, and likewise the Barn and Flagstaff Hills, are interlaced by dikes, many of which preserve a remarkable parallelism in a N.N.W. and S.S.E. direction. The dikes chiefly consist of a rock, porphyritic with large crystals of augite; others are formed of a fine-grained and brown- coloured trap. Most of these dikes are coated by a glossy layer, from one to two-tenths of an inch in thickness, which, unlike true pitchstone, fuses into a black enamel; this layer is evidently analogous to the glossy superficial coating of many lava streams. (This circumstance has been observed (Lyell "Principles of Geology" volume 4 chapter 10 page 9) in the dikes of the Atrio del Cavallo, but apparently it is not of very common occurrence. Sir G. Mackenzie, however, states (page 372 "Travels in Iceland") that all the veins in Iceland have a "black vitreous coating on their sides." Captain Carmichael, speaking of the dikes in Tristan d'Acunha, a volcanic island in the Southern Atlantic, says ("Linnaean Transactions" volume 12 page 485) that their sides, "where they come in contact with the rocks, are invariably in a semi-vitrified state.") The dikes can often be followed for great lengths both horizontally and vertically, and they seem to preserve a nearly uniform thickness ("Geognosy of the Island of St.

Charles Darwin

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