(FIGURE 9. PROSPEROUS HILL AND THE BARN. (Section S.S.E. (left) to N.N.W. (right) Prosperous Hill through Hold-fast-Tom and Flagstaff Hill to The Barn.

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

Prosperous Hill is a great, black, precipitous mountain, situated two miles and a half south of the Barn, and composed, like it, of basaltic strata. These rest, in one part, on the brown-coloured, porphyritic beds of the basal series, and in another part, on a fissured mass of highly scoriaceous and amygdaloidal rock, which seems to have formed a small point of eruption beneath the sea, contemporaneously with the basal series. Prosperous Hill, like the Barn, is traversed by many dikes, of which the greater number range north and south, and its strata dip, at an angle of about 20 degrees, rather obliquely from the island towards the sea. The space between Prosperous Hill and the Barn, as represented in Figure 9, consists of lofty cliffs, composed of the lavas of the upper or feldspathic series, which rest, though unconformably, on the basal submarine strata, as we have seen that they do at Flagstaff Hill. Differently, however, from in that hill, these upper strata are nearly horizontal, gently rising towards the interior of the island; and they are composed of greenish-black, or more commonly, pale brown, compact lavas, instead of softened and highly coloured matter. These brown-coloured, compact lavas, consist almost entirely of small glimmering scales, or of minute acicular crystals, of feldspar, placed close by the side of each other, and abounding with minute black specks, apparently of hornblende. The basaltic strata of Prosperous Hill project only a little above the level of the gently-sloping, feldspathic streams, which wind round and abut against their upturned edges. The inclination of the basaltic strata seems to be too great to have been caused by their having flowed down a slope, and they must have been tilted into their present position before the eruption of the feldspathic streams.


Proceeding round the Island, the lavas of the upper series, southward of Prosperous Hill, overhang the sea in lofty precipices. Further on, the headland, called Great Stony-top, is composed, as I believe, of basalt; as is Long Range Point, on the inland side of which the coloured beds abut. On the southern side of the island, we see the basaltic strata of the South Barn, dipping obliquely seaward at a considerable angle; this headland, also, stands a little above the level of the more modern, feldspathic lavas. Further on, a large space of coast, on each side of Sandy Bay, has been much denuded, and there seems to be left only the basal wreck of the great, central crater. The basaltic strata reappear, with their seaward dip, at the foot of the hill, called Man-and-Horse; and thence they are continued along the whole north-western coast to Sugar-Loaf Hill, situated near to the Flagstaff; and they everywhere have the same seaward inclination, and rest, in some parts at least, on the lavas of the basal series. We thus see that the circumference of the island is formed by a much-broken ring, or rather, a horse-shoe, of basalt, open to the south, and interrupted on the eastern side by many wide breaches. The breadth of this marginal fringe on the north-western side, where alone it is at all perfect, appears to vary from a mile to a mile and a half. The basaltic strata, as well as those of the subjacent basal series, dip, with a moderate inclination, where they have not been subsequently disturbed, towards the sea. The more broken state of the basaltic ring round the eastern half, compared with the western half of the island, is evidently due to the much greater denuding power of the waves on the eastern or windward side, as is shown by the greater height of the cliffs on that side, than to leeward. Whether the margin of basalt was breached, before or after the eruption of the lavas of the upper series, is doubtful; but as separate portions of the basaltic ring appear to have been tilted before that event, and from other reasons, it is more probable, that some at least of the breaches were first formed.

Charles Darwin

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