Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
Die arctische Geologie birgt die Schlüssel zu Lösung vieler Räthsel.Professor Heer.
An extensive continent occupied this portion of the globe when these strata were deposited.Baron Nordenskjöld.
Our hypothesis calls for an antediluvian continent at the Arctic Pole. It is interesting to find that a writer upon the Deluge writing more than forty years ago advanced the same postulate. 1 Is the supposition that there existed such a continent scientifically admissible?
Until very recently too little was known of the geology of the high latitudes to warrant or even to occasion the discussion of such a question. Even now, with all the contemporary interest in Arctic exploration, it is difficult to find any author who has distinctly propounded to himself and discussed the question as to the geologic age of the Arctic Ocean. It will not be strange, therefore, if we have here to content ourselves with showing, first, that geologists
and paleontologists do not think the present distribution of Arctic sea and land to be the primeval one; and secondly, that in their opinion, incidentally expressed, a "continent" once existed within the Arctic Circle of which at present only vestiges remain.
We will begin with the distinguished Alfred Russel Wallace, who in speaking of the Miocene period presents us with a very different Northern hemisphere from ours of to-day. For instance, in his view Scandinavia was at that time a vast island. He says: "The distribution of the Eocene and Miocene formations shows that during a considerable portion of the Tertiary period an inland sea, more or less occupied by an archipelago of islands, extended across Central Europe between the Baltic and the Black and Caspian seas, and thence by narrower channels southeastward to the valley of the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, thus opening a communication between the North Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. From the Caspian also a wide arm of the sea extended, during some part of the Tertiary epoch, northwards to the Arctic Ocean, and there is nothing to show that this sea may not have been in existence during the whole Tertiary period. Another channel probably existed over Egypt into the eastern basin of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea; while it is probable that there was a communication between the Baltic and the White Sea, leaving Scandinavia as an extensive island. Turning to India, we find that an arm of the sea, of great width and depth, extended from the Bay of Bengal to the mouths of the Indus; while the enormous depression indicated by the presence of marine fossils of Eocene
age at a height of 16,500 feet in Western Tibet renders it not improbable that a more direct channel across Afghanistan may have opened a communication between the West Asiatic and Polar seas." 1
Later, in the same book, Mr. Wallace incidentally shows that the facts of Arctic paleontology call for the supposition of a primitive Eocene continent in the highest latitudes,a continent which no longer exists. His language is, "The rich and varied fauna which inhabited Europe at the dawn of the Tertiary periodas shown by the abundant remains of mammalia wherever suitable deposits of Eocene age have been discoveredproves that an extensive Palearctic continent then existed." 2
Another most eminent authority in Arctic paleontology, the late Professor Heer, of Zürich, fully fifteen years ago arrived at and published the conclusion that the facts presented in the Arctic fossils plainly point to the existence in Miocene time of a no longer existing polar continent. Fuller reference to his views will be made in our next chapter. 3
On another and more lithological line of evidence Baron Nordenskjöld, the eminent Arctic explorer, has arrived at the same conclusion. Speaking of certain rock strata north of the 69th degree of north latitude, he says, "An extensive continent occupied this portion of the globe when these strata were deposited." 4 Elsewhere he speaks of this "ancient polar continent" as something already accepted and universally understood among scientific men. He
also alludes to the conspiring evidences of its former existence found in different departments of research. "These basalt beds," he remarks, "probably originated from a volcanic chain, active during the Tertiary period, which perhaps limits the ancient polar continent, in the same manner as is now the case with the eastern coast of Asia and the western of America; this confirming the division of land and water in the Tertiary period, which upon totally different grounds has been supposed to have existed." 1
Another authority in this field, writing of the theory that continuous land once connected Europe and North America at the North, remarks, "In further support of this theory we have the fact that no trace of sea deposit of Eocene age has ever been found in the polar area, all the vestiges of strata remaining showing that these latitudes were then occupied by dry land." 2
Finally, as our assumption of the early existence of a circumpolar Arctic continent is thus supported by most competent geological authority, so is also our hypothesis that its disappearance was due to a submergence beneath the waters of the Arctic Ocean. On this point what could be more explicit and satisfactory than the following, from one of the greatest of living geologists: "We know very well that . . . within a comparatively recent geological period . . . a wide stretch of Arctic land, of which Novaia Zemlia and Spitzbergen formed a part, has been submerged." 3
As to the natural conditions and forces which may be conceived as having brought about this continental catastrophe, geologists are not so well agreed. The French savant, Alfonse-Joseph Adhémar, 1 has advanced a theory that this North-polar deluge was only one of an alternating series, which in age-long periods recur first at the North and then at the South Pole. Flammarion, writing of it, says: "This theory depends on the fact of the unequal length of the seasons in the two hemispheres. Our autumn and winter last 179 days. In the southern hemisphere they last 186 days. This seven days, or 168 hours of difference, increase each year the coldness of the pole. During 10,500 years the ice accumulates at one pole and melts at the other, thereby displacing the earth's centre of gravity. Now a time will arrive when, after the maximum of elevation of temperature on one side, a catastrophe will happen which will bring back the centre of gravity to the centre of the figure, and cause an immense deluge. The deluge of the North Pole was 4,200 years ago; therefore the next will be 6,300 hence." 2
Another recent theory teaches that the poles are periodically deluged, but simultaneously, not in alternation. The alternative movement is at the equator. The crust of the earth at the equator is all the time rising or sinking in a kind of æonian rhythm.
[paragraph continues] Whenever it sinks beyond the equilibrium figure, due to its actual rate of rotation, lands emerge at the poles; whenever it rises beyond the equilibrium figure, the polar lands sink and are submerged beneath the waters of the ocean. Professor Alexander Winchell thus expounds the view: "It has been shown that one of the actions of tides upon a planetary body tends to diminish its rate of rotation. Correspondingly, its equatorial protuberance will tend to diminish. In the case of a planet still retaining its liquid condition, the equatorial subsidence will keep nearly even pace with the retardation. To whatever extent viscosity exists, the subsidence will follow the retardation. There will exist an excess of protuberance beyond the equilibrium figure due to the actual rotation, and this will act as an additional retardative cause. In the case of an incrusted and somewhat rigid planet, the excess of ellipticity would attain its greatest value. It would continue to augment until the strain upon the mass should become sufficient to lower the excessive protuberance to the equilibrium figure. The recovery of this figure might take place convulsively. The equatorial regions would then subside, and the polar would rise. In the case of an incrusted planet extensively covered, like the earth, by a film of water, retarded rotation would be attended by a prompt subsidence of the equatorial waters and rise of the polar waters to about twice the same extent. In other words, the equatorial lands would emerge, and the polar lands would become submerged. The amount of emergence would diminish with increase of distance from the equator, and the amount of submergence would diminish with increase of distance
from the pole. In about the latitude of 30° the two tendencies would meet and neutralize each other. Under these conditions, an incrusted and ocean-covered planet, since it must be undergoing a process of rotary retardation, must possess the deepest oceans about the poles and the shallowest about the equator. The first emergences of land, accordingly, will take place within the equatorial zone; and the highest elevations and greatest land areas will exist within that zone. The elevation of equatorial land-masses would interpose new obstructions to the equatorial ocean current. This would divert it in new directions, and thus modify all climates within reach of oceanic influences. Changes of currents would necessitate the migration of marine faunas, and changes of climate would modify the faunas and floras of the land.
"But the protrusion of the equatorial land-mass could not increase indefinitely. The same central force which retains the ocean continually at the equilibrium figure strains the solid mass in the same direction. The strain must at length become greater than the rigidity of the mass can withstand. The equatorial land protuberance will subside toward the level of the ocean. Some parts of the ocean's bottom must correspondingly rise. Naturally, the parts about the poles will rise most. Thus some equatorial lands will become submerged, and some northern and southern areas may become newly emergent.
"But these vertical movements would not be arrested precisely at the point of recovery of the equilibrium figure. As suggested by Prof. J. E. Todd, and less explicitly by Sir Wm. Thomson, the movement
would pass the equilibrium figure to an extent proportional to the cumulation of strain. The equatorial region would become too much depressed, and the polar regions too much elevated. The effect of this would be to accelerate the rotation sufficiently to neutralize the ceaseless tidal retardation. The day would be shortened. The ocean would rise still higher along the shores of equatorial lands, and subside along the shores of polar lands. An extension of polar lands would immediately modify the climates of the higher latitudes. They would become subject to greater extremes. A considerable elevation of polar lands would diminish the mean temperature, and the region of perpetual snow would be enlarged. These effects would visit the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously.
"Such effects would follow from an excessive subsidence of equatorial lands. But the constant retardative action of the tides would cause the equatorial lands again to emerge, and protrude beyond the limits of the equilibrium figure attained in a later age. Thus the former condition would return, and the former events would be repeated. In the nature of force and matter these oscillations should be repeated many times. Professor Todd suggests that the present terrestrial age is one of equatorial land subsidence and of high latitude emergence. Immediately preceding the present, the Champlain epoch was one of northern and probably of south polar subsidence; while further back, in the Glacial epoch, we have evidence of northern, and perhaps also south latitude elevation." 1
Leibnitz, Deluc, and others, have presented a still different view of the etiology of all deluges, according to which they are the result of a steady shrinkage of the earth in consequence of its secular cooling. According to this theory, after once a solid earth-crust had been formed, the cooling nucleus within it withdrew the support on which the crust had rested, in proportion as it shrank away from beneath it, until, as often as the subterranean voids thus created became too great for the strength of the crust, this of necessity fell in with the force of incomputable tons, carrying the ruined surface to such a depth as to cause it immediately to be overflowed and submerged by the adjacent waters of the ocean. The geologic history of the earth is divided into its strongly marked periods by these successive "collapsions" of the rocky strata which constituted the primitive crust. "Each succeeding cataclysm," says a recent advocate of the view, "considered as a universal catastrophe, must leave the globe a wreck, like the ruin of some immense cathedral whose dome and arches have fallen in. Cornice and frieze, pillar and entablature, broken and dislocated, lie at all angles of inclination and in the utmost confusion. So it is with the ancient rocks and more modern strata. Only to this mighty wreck have been added the outgushings of molten matter into fissures, creating dikes, and the unsparing movements of oceans sweeping loose materials and perishing forms of all sorts from one place to another, partially covering up and disguising the desolation."
Again, the same writer says: "The present sun face of the earth is comparatively recent. The last great cataclysm is, geologically speaking, not very
ancient. Accumulating evidence compels us to believe that one of those destructive events has occurred since the human race was created. The facts
I have presented plainly indicate that another is in the course of preparation. Each of these vast periodical voids between the nucleus and the crust is filled by collapsion of the surface. . . . Thus, if we assume that the globe was one hundred or three hundred miles greater in all its diameters when its crust became hard and was bathed with the earliest seas, and when marine plants and trilobites and mollusca began to appear, the lithological characteristics of the paleozoic ages will be more acceptably deciphered. So successively with the carboniferous periods, whose vast areas have been folded up and overflowed, and whose fields for reproduction have been so numerous and extensive as to convince us that Arctic America, during those remote ages, presented tropical positions to the sun." 1
Although starting with no such purpose, the author, in expounding this general Leibnitzian theory of all deluges, incidentally explains the submersion of the primeval Arctic continent. In accordance with his theory, he asserts that "the diameter of the earth at the poles must have been at some more ancient epoch very much greater than now. It must have been more than twenty-seven miles greater to permit such equatorial or tropical exposures to the
sun as we know to be necessary for the production of those vegetable forms which abound in the coal measures of Arctic latitudes. 1 If it was fifty or a hundred miles greater during any portion of the carboniferous age, it might have been two hundred during the 'Taconic' period, and perhaps three hundred or more when the life-force began to fashion its primordial and rudimentary organisms upon its waiting surface." He furthermore distinctly asserts that Sir Isaac Newton's supposed demonstration that the oblateness of the earth's figure is due to the centrifugal force generated by its rotation "is an error unworthy of further consideration among geologists." The true explanation, as he regards it, is stated as follows: "The shorter axes of the globewhat at present are our polesare not the result of flattening by rotation, but by a sudden falling in of surface." 2
Here, of course, is just that down-sinking of wide polar regions, in "comparatively recent" geologic time, demanded by the facts of Arctic geology. It must have been greater than any of those which have occurred in other portions of the globe, for it has permanently modified the originally and naturally spherical figure of the earth. The author is "compelled to believe" that it, or one like it, "occurred since the human race was created." Moreover, this belief is in no wise built upon the Biblical record of the Deluge, for he speaks almost bitterly of "the retarding influence of Jewish legends upon the free expansion of the human intellect," and
makes Moses one of the two men whose "declarations and authority, more than the statements of all others, have retarded the advancement of general knowledge." Happily for Moses, the second in this portentous duumvirate is no worse a man than Sir Isaac Newton!
It is by no means necessary to commit ourselves to any one of these theories of deluges, or to seek still other explanations of the recognized subsidence of the basin now occupied by the Arctic Ocean. Enough for the present that upon the authority of eminent physiographic geologists we have shown:
1. That the present distribution of land and water within the Arctic Circle is, geologically speaking, of very recent origin.
2. That the paleozoic data of the highest explored latitudes demand for their explanation the hypothesis of an extensive circumpolar continent in Miocene time.
3. That lithological authorities affirm that such a continent existed.
4. That physical geography has reached the conclusion that the known islands of the Arctic Ocean, such as Novaia Zemlia and the Spitzbergen, are simply mountain tops still remaining above the surface of the sea which has come in and covered up the primeval continent to which they belonged.
5. And finally, that the problem of the process by which this grand catastrophe was brought about is now sporadically engaging the thoughts of terrestrial physicists and geologists. 1
71:1 "On peut supposer, et je tâcherai de developper cette idée plus tard, quil a existé une periode géologique plus recoulée, . . . et quà cette époque lEurope, lAsie, et lAmérique septentrionale se joignaient au pole nord de manière à former un continent dune étendue prodigeuse, se prolongueant vers le pôle sud en trois presquiles, savoir: lAmérique méridionale, lAfrique, et lOcéanie. Cest des débris de cet ancien continent que des révolutions violentes ont formé les terres actuelles." Frédérik Klee, Le Déluge, French ed. Paris, 1847: p. 83. (Danish original, 1842.)
73:1 Island Life. London, 1880: pp. 184, 185.
73:2 Ibid., p. 362.
73:3 Professor Heer, deceased Sept. 27, 1883. On the preëminence of his authority in this field, see Nature, Oct. 25, page 612.
73:4 Expedition to Greenland. Arctic Manual, London, 1875: p. 423.
74:1 Arctic Manual, p. 420.
74:2 J. Starkie Gardner in Nature, London, Dec. 12, 1878: p. 127.
74:3 James Geikie, LL. D., F. R. S., Prehistoric Europe. A Geological Sketch. London, 1881: p. 41. Compare Louis Faliés, Études p. 75 historiques et philosophiques sur les Civilisations Européenne, Romaine, Greque, etc. Paris, 1874: vol. i., pp. 348-352.
75:1 In his Révolutions de la Mer. 2 ed., 1860.
75:2 Flammarion naturally adds, "It is very obvious to ask on this, Why should there be a catastrophe, and why should not the centre of gravity return gradually, as it was gradually displaced?" Astronomical Myths, p. 426. But a gradual displacement would produce a deluge, only a gradual one.
78:1 World-Life; or Comparative Geology. Chicago, 1883: pp. 278-280.
80:1 C. F. Winslow, M. D., The Cooling Globe, or the Mechanics of Geology. Boston, 1865: pp. 50, 51. For the latest presentations and criticisms of this general theory, see Winchell's World-Life, 1883, pp. 302-308, and the literature there given. Among the older treatises constructed upon it, none is perhaps of so great interest to the general reader as the work on The Deluge, by Frédérik Klee (Danish 1842, German 1843, French 1847).
81:1 Dr. Winslow seems here to forget that the primeval polar continent was of necessity the sunniest of all lands.
81:2 Ibid., p. 49.
82:1 See the very interesting paper "On Ice-Age Theories," in Transactions of the British Association, 1884, by E. Hill, M.A., F.G.S. Also in the same volume W. F. Stanley's criticism of the theory of Croll.