Theory of the Earth, by James Hutton, [1788 and 1795], at sacred-texts.com
An Investigation of the Natural Operations employed in consolidating the Strata of the Globe.
We are now about to investigate those mineral operations of the globe by which the qualities of hardness and solidity, consequently of strength and durability, are procured to great bodies of this earth.
That those qualities are not original to such bodies, but actually superinduced in the natural operations of the earth, will appear from the examination of some of the hardest and most solid of those mineral bodies. In such masses, (for example of flint and agate,) we find included shells and coralline bodies. Consequently, there must be a natural operation in the globe for consolidating and hardening its soft and loose materials. It is concerning the nature of this consolidating operation that we are now to inquire.
There are just two ways in which porous or spongy bodies can be consolidated, and by which substances may be formed into masses of a natural shape and regular structure; the one of these is simple congelation from a fluid state, by means of cold; the other is accretion; and this includes a separatory operation, as well as that by which the solid body is to be produced. But in whichever of these ways solidity shall be procured, it must be brought about by first inducing fluidity, either immediately by the action of heat, or mediately with the assistance of a solvent, that is, by the operation of solution. Therefore, fire and water may be considered as the general agents in this operation, which we would explore.
Heat has been already mentioned as a general power, and as acting in all the different parts of the globe; I would now wish more particularly to call the attention of the reader to subterraneous fire, or heat, as a powerful agent in the mineral regions, and as a cause necessarily belonging to the internal constitution of this earth.
It is not our purpose at present to inquire into the particular nature of this power of subterraneous heat, or to trace the proper connection and analogy of the internal fire with that which is so necessary to our life, and which acts so great a part upon the surface of the earth, this being reserved for the last part. Our intention in here mentioning it, is only to dispose the mind to look for active powers or efficient causes, in that part of the earth which has been commonly considered as passive and inert, but which will be found extremely active, and the source of mighty revolutions in the fate of land.
There may, indeed, be some difficulty in conceiving all the modifications of this mineral power; but as, on the one hand, we are not arbitrarily to assume an agent, for the purpose of explaining events, or certain appearances which are not understood; so, on the other, we must not refuse to admit the action of a known power, when this is properly suggested in the appearances of things; and, though we may not understand all the modifications, or the whole capacity and regulation of this power in bodies, we are not to neglect the appropriating to it, as a cause, those effects which are natural to it, and which, so far as we know, cannot belong to any other. On all occasions, we are to judge from what we know; and, we are only to avoid concluding from our suppositions, in cases where evidence or real information is necessarily required. The subject now considered, subterraneous fire, will afford an example of that truth; and, a general view of this great natural power will here find a proper place, before the application of it for the explanation of natural appearances.
No event is more the object of our notice, or more interesting as a subject for our study, than is the burning of a fire: But, the more that philosophers have studied this subject, the more they seem to differ as to the manner in which that conspicuous event is to be explained. Therefore, being so ignorant with regard to that fire of which we see the origin as well as the more immediate effects, how cautious should we be in judging the nature of subterraneous fire from the burning of bodies, a subject which we so little understand.
But, though the cause of fire in general, or the operations of that power in its extreme degrees, be for us a subject involved in much obscurity, this is not the case with regard to the more common effects of heat; and, tho' the actual existence of subterraneous fire, as the cause of light and heat, might be a thing altogether problematical in our opinion; yet, as to other effects, there are some of these from which the action of that liquefying power may be certainly concluded as having taken place within the mineral region, although the cause should be in every other respect a thing to us unknown. In that case, where the operation or effect is evident, and cannot be disputed, to refuse to admit the power in question, merely because we had not seen it act, or because we know not every rule which it may observe in acting, would be only to found an argument upon our ignorance; it would be to misunderstand the nature of investigating physical truths, which must proceed by reasoning from effect to cause.
Our knowledge is extremely limited with regard to the effects of heat in bodies, while acting under different conditions, and in various degrees. But though our knowledge in these respects is limited, our judgment with regard to the efficacy of this power of heat is in its nature positive, and contains not any thing that is doubtful or uncertain. All mankind, who have the opportunity, know that the hard substance of ice is by heat converted into water, wherein no hardness remains; and the profound philosophy of Dr Black, in relation to the subject of latent heat, as that of Sir Isaac Newton, in relation to the weight of bodies, is not necessary to convince the world that in the one case ice will melt, and in the other, that heavy bodies will move when unsupported.
But though, in the abstract doctrine of latent heat, the ingenuity of man has discovered a certain measure for the quantity of those commutable effects which are perceived; and though this be a progress of science far above the apprehension of the vulgar, yet still, that solid bodies are changed into fluids, by the power of heat, is the same unalterable judgment, which the savage forms as well as the philosopher. Here, therefore, are evident effects, which mankind in general attribute to the power of heat; and it is from those known effects that we are to investigate subterraneous fire, or to generalise the power of heat, as acting in the interior parts, as well as on the surface of this earth.
If, indeed, there were any other cause for fluidity besides the operation of fire or the power of heat, in that case the most evident proof, with regard to the flowing, or former fluidity, of mineral bodies, would draw to no conclusion in proving the existence of mineral fire; but when we have not the smallest reason for conjecturing any other cause, or the least doubt with regard to that which, in the doctrine of latent heat, has been properly investigated, the proofs which we shall bring, of fusion in all the minerals of this earth, must be held as proofs of mineral fire, in like manner as the proof of subterraneous fire would necessarily imply mineral fusion as its natural effect.
Thus we have, in our physical investigation, several points in view. First, from the present state of things, to infer a former state of fusion among mineral bodies. Secondly, from that former fusion, to infer the actual existence of mineral fire in the system of the earth. And, lastly, from the acknowledged fact of subterraneous fire as a cause, to reason with regard to the effects of that power in mineral bodies.
But besides the power or effect of subterraneous heat in bodies which are unorganised, and without system, in the construction of their different parts, we have to investigate the proper purpose of this great agent in the system of this world, which may be considered as a species of organised body. Here, therefore, final causes are to be brought into view, as well as those which are efficient. Now, in a subject involved with so much obscurity, as must be for us the internal regions of the globe, the consideration of efficient and final causes may contribute mutually to each others evidence, when separately the investigation of either might be thought unsatisfactory or insufficient.
So far it seemed necessary to premise with regard to the great mineral power which we are to employ as an agent in the system of this earth; and it may be now observed, that it is in the proper relation of this power of heat and the fluidity or softness of bodies, as cause and effect, that we are to find a physical principle or argument for detecting those false theories of the earth that have been only imagined, and not properly founded on fact or observation. It is also by means of this principle, that we shall be enabled to form a true theory of the mineral region, in generalising particular effects to a common cause.
Let us now proceed in endeavouring to decide this important question, viz. By what active principle is it, that the present state of things, which we observe in the strata of the earth, a state so very different from that in which those bodies had been formed originally, has been brought about?
Two causes have been now proposed for the consolidating of loose materials which had been in an incoherent state; these are, on the one hand, fire; or, on the other, water, as the means of bringing about that event. We are, therefore, to consider well, what may be the consequences of consolidation by the one or other of those agents; and what may be the respective powers of those agents with respect to this operation.
If we are not informed in this branch of science, we may gaze without instruction upon the most convincing proofs of what we want to attain. If our knowledge is imperfect, we may form erroneous principles, and deceive ourselves in reasoning with regard to those works of nature, which are wisely calculated for our instruction.
The strata, formed at the bottom of the sea, are to be considered as having been consolidated, either by aqueous solution and crystallization, or by the effect of heat and fusion. If it is in the first of these two ways that the solid strata of the globe have attained to their present state, there will be a certain uniformity observable in the effects; and there will be general laws, by which this operation must have been conducted. Therefore, knowing those general laws, and making just observations with regard to the natural appearances of those consolidated masses, a philosopher, in his closet, should be able to determine, what may, and what may not have been transacted in the bowels of the earth, or below the bottom of the ocean.
Let us now endeavour to ascertain what may have been the power of water, acting under fixed circumstances, operating upon known substances, and conducting to a certain end.
The action of water upon all different substances is an operation with which we are familiar. We have it in our power to apply water in different degrees of heat for the solution of bodies, and under various degrees of compression; consequently, there is no reason to conclude any thing mysterious in the operations of the globe, which are to be performed by means of water, unless an immense compressing power should alter the nature of those operations. But compression alters the relation of evaporation only with regard to heat, or it changes the degree of heat which water may be made to sustain; consequently, we are to look for no occult quality in water acting upon bodies at the bottom of the deepest ocean, more than what can be observed in experiments which we have it in our power to try.
With regard again to the effect of time: Though the continuance of time may do much in those operations which are extremely slow, where no change, to our observation, had appeared to take place, yet, where it is not in the nature of things to produce the change in question, the unlimited course of time would be no more effectual, than the moment by which we measure events in our observations.
Water being the general medium in which bodies collected at the bottom of the sea are always contained, if those masses of collected matter are to be consolidated by solution, it must be by the dissolution of those bodies in that water as a menstruum, and by the concretion or crystallization of this dissolved matter, that the spaces, first occupied by water in those masses, are afterwards to be filled with a hard and solid substance; but without some other power, by which the water contained in those cavities and endless labyrinths of the strata, should be separated in proportion as it had performed its task, it is inconceivable how those masses, however changed from the state of their first subsidence, should be absolutely consolidated, without any visible or fluid water in their composition.
Besides this difficulty of having the water separated from the porous masses which are to be consolidated, there is another with which, upon this supposition, we have to struggle. This is, From whence should come the matter with which the numberless cavities in those masses are to be filled?
The water in the cavities and interstices of those bodies composing strata, must be in a stagnating state; consequently, it can only act upon the surfaces of those cavities which are to be filled up. But with what are they to be filled? Not with water; they are full of that already: Not with the substance of the bodies which contain that water; this would be only to make one cavity in order to fill up another. If, therefore, the cavities of the strata are to be filled with solid matter, by means of water, there must be made to pass through those porous masses, water impregnated with some other substances in a dissolved state; and the aqueous menstruum must be made to separate from the dissolved substance, and to deposit the same in those cavities through which the solution moves.
By such a supposition as this, we might perhaps explain a partial consolidation of those strata; but this is a supposition, of which the case under consideration does not admit; for in the present case, which is that of materials accumulated at the bottom of the ocean, there is not proper means for separating the dissolved matter from the water included in those enormous masses; nor are there any means by which a circulation in those masses may be formed. In this case, therefore, where the means are not naturally in the supposition, a philosopher, who is to explain the phenomenon by the natural operation of water in this situation, must not have recourse to another agent, still more powerful, to assist his supposition which cannot be admitted.
Thus, it will appear, that, to consolidate strata formed at the bottom of the sea, in the manner now considered, operations are required unnatural to this place; consequently, not to be supposed, in order to support a hypothesis.
But now, instead of inquiring how far water may be supposed instrumental in the consolidation of strata which were originally of a loose texture, we are to consider how far there may be appearances in those consolidated bodies, by which it might be concluded, whether or not the present state of their consolidation has been actually brought about by means of that agent.
If water had been the menstruum by which the consolidating matter was introduced into the interstices of strata, masses of those bodies could only be found consolidated with such substances as water is capable of dissolving; and these substances would be found only in such a state as the simple separation of the solvent water might produce.
In this case, the consolidation of strata would be extremely limited; for we cannot allow more power to water than we find it has in nature; nor are we to imagine to ourselves unlimited powers in bodies, on purpose to explain those appearances by which we should be made to know the powers of nature. Let us, therefore, attend, with every possible circumspection, to the appearances of those bodies, by means of which we are to investigate the principles of mineralogy, and know the laws of nature.
The question now before us concerns the consolidating substances of strata. Are these such as will correspond to the dissolving power of water, and to the state in which these substances might be left by the separation of their menstruum? No; far, far from this supposition is the conclusion that necessarily follows from natural appearances.
We have strata consolidated by calcareous spar, a thing perfectly distinguishable from the stalactical concretion of calcareous earth, in consequence of aqueous solution. We have strata made solid by the formation of fluor, a substance not soluble, so far as we know, by water. We have strata consolidated with sulphureous and bituminous substances, which do not correspond to the solution of water. We have strata consolidated with siliceous matter, in a state different from that under which it has been observed, on certain occasions, to be deposited by water. We have strata consolidated by feld-spar, a substance insoluble in water. We have strata consolidated by almost all the various metallic substances, with their almost endless mixtures and sulphureous compositions; that is to say, we find, perhaps, every different substance introduced into the interstices of strata which had been formed by subsidence at the bottom of the sea.
If it is by means of water that those interstices have been filled with those materials, water must be, like fire, an universal solvent, or cause of fluidity, and we must change entirely our opinion of water in relation to its chemical character. But there is no necessity thus to violate our chemical principles, in order to explain certain natural appearances; more especially if those appearances may be explained in another manner, consistently with the known laws of nature.
If, again, it is by means of heat and fusion that the loose and porous structure of strata shall be supposed to have been consolidated, then every difficulty which had occurred in reasoning upon the power or agency of water is at once removed. The loose and discontinuous body of a stratum may be closed by means of softness and compression; the porous structure of the materials may be consolidated, in a similar manner, by the fusion of their substance; and foreign matter may be introduced into the open structure of strata, in form of steam or exhalation, as well as in the fluid state of fusion; consequently, heat is an agent competent for the consolidation of strata, which water alone is not. If, therefore, such an agent could be found acting in the natural place of strata, we must pronounce it proper to bring about that end.
The examination of nature gives countenance to this supposition, so far as strata are found consolidated by every species of substance, and almost every possible mixture of those different substances; consequently, however difficult it may appear to have this application of heat, for the purpose of consolidating strata formed at the bottom of the ocean, we cannot, from natural appearances, suppose any other cause, as having actually produced the effects which are now examined.
This question, with regard to the means of consolidating the strata of the globe, is, to natural history, of the greatest importance; and it is essential in the theory now proposed to be given of the mineral system. It would, therefore, require to be discussed with some degree of precision in examining the particulars; but of these, there is so great a field, and the subject is so complicated in its nature, that volumes might be written upon particular branches only, without exhausting what might be laid upon the subject; because the evidence, though strong in many particulars, is chiefly to be enforced by a multitude of facts, conspiring, in a diversity of ways, to point out one truth, and by the impossibility of reconciling all these facts, except by means of one supposition.
But, as it is necessary to give some proof of that which is to be a principle in our reasoning afterwards, I shall now endeavour to generalise the subject as much as possible, in order to answer that end, and, at the same time, to point out the particular method of inquiry.
There are to be found, among the various strata of the globe, bodies formed of two different kinds of substances, siliceous bodies, and those which may be termed sulphureous or phlogistic. With one or other, or both of those we substances, every different consolidated stratum of the globe will be found so intimately mixed, or closely connected, that it must be concluded, by whatever cause those bodies of siliceous and sulphureous matter had been changed from a fluid to a concreted state, the strata must have been similarly affected by the same cause.
These two species of bodies, therefore, the siliceous and the sulphureous, may now be examined, in relation to the causes of their concretion, with a view to determine, what has been the general concreting or consolidating power, which has operated universally in the globe; and particularly to show, it has not been by means of any fluid solution, that strata in general have been consolidated, or that those particular substances have been crystallized and concreted.
Siliceous matter, physically speaking, is not soluble in water; that is to say, in no manner of way have we been enabled to learn, that water has the power of dissolving this matter.
Many other substances, which are so little soluble in water, that their solubility could not be otherwise detected of themselves, are made to appear soluble by means of siliceous matter; such is feld-spar, one of the component parts of rock-granite.
Feld-spar is a compound of siliceous, argillaceous, and calcareous earth, intimately united together. This compound siliceous body being, for ages, exposed to the weather, the calcareous part of it is dissolved, and the siliceous part is left in form of a soft white earth. But whether this dissolution is performed by pure water, or by means also of an acid, may perhaps be questioned. This, however, is certain, that we must consider siliceous substances as insoluble in water.
The water of Glezer in Iceland undoubtedly contains this substance in solution; but there is no reason to believe, that it is here dissolved by any other than the natural means; that is, an alkaline substance, by which siliceous bodies may be rendered soluble in water 5.
It may be, therefore, asserted, that no siliceous body having the hardness of flint, nor any crystallization of that substance, has ever been formed, except by fusion. If, by any art, this substance shall be dissolved in simple water, or made to crystallise from any solution, in that case, the assertion which has been here made may be denied. But where there is not the vestige of any proof, to authorise the supposition of flinty matter being dissolved by water, or crystallized from that solution, such an hypothesis cannot be admitted, in opposition to general and evident appearances 6.
Besides this proof for the fusion of siliceous bodies, which is indirect, arising from the in dissolubility of that substance in water, there is another, which is more direct, being founded upon appearances which are plainly inconsistent with any other supposition, except that of simple fluidity induced by heat. The proof I mean is, the penetration of many bodies with a flinty substance, which, according to every collateral circumstance, must have been performed by the flinty matter in a simply fluid state, and not in a state of dissolution by a solvent.
These are flinty bodies perfectly insulated in strata both of chalk and sand. It requires but inspection to be convinced. It is not possible that flinty matter could be conveyed into the middle of those strata, by a menstruum in which it was dissolved, and thus deposited in that place, without the smallest trace of deposition in the surrounding parts.
But, besides this argument taken from what does not appear, the actual form in which those flinty masses are found, demonstrates, first, That they have been introduced among those strata in a fluid state, by injection from some other place. 2dly, That they have been dispersed in a variety of ways among those strata, then deeply immersed at the bottom of the sea; and, lastly, That they have been there congealed from the state of fusion, and have remained in that situation, while those strata have been removed from the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the present land.
To describe those particular appearances would draw this paper beyond the bounds of an essay. We must, therefore, refer those who would inquire more minutely into the subject, to examine the chalk-countries of France and England, in which the flint is found variously formed; the land-hills interspersed among those chalk-countries, which have been also injected by melted flint; and the pudding-stone of England, which I have not seen in its natural situation. More particularly, I would recommend an examination of the insulated masses of stone, found in the sand-hills by the city of Brussels; a stone which is formed by an injection of flint among sand, similar to that which, in a body of gravel, had formed the pudding-stone of England 7.
All these examples would require to be examined upon the spot, as a great part of the proof for the fusion of the flinty substance, arises, in my opinion, from the form in which those bodies are found, and the state of the surrounding parts. But there are specimens brought from many different places, which contain, in themselves, the most evident marks of this injection of the flinty substance in a fluid state. These are pieces of fossil wood, penetrated with a siliceous substance, which are brought from England, Germany, and Lochneagh in Ireland.
It appears from these specimens, that there has sometimes been a prior penetration of the body of wood, either with irony matter, or calcareous substance. Sometimes, again, which is the case with that of Lochneagh, there does not seem to have been any penetration of those two substances. The injected flint appears to have penetrated the body of this wood, immersed at the bottom of the sea, under an immense compression of water. This appears from the wood being penetrated partially, some parts not being penetrated at all.
Now, in the limits between those two parts, we have the most convincing proofs, that it had been flint in a simple fluid state which had penetrated the wood, and not in a state of solution.
First, Because, however little of the wood is left unpenetrated, the division is always distinct between the injected part and that which is not penetrated by the fluid flint. In this case, the flinty matter has proceeded a certain length, which is marked, and no farther; and, beyond this boundary, there is no partial impregnation, nor a gradation of the flintifying operation, as must have been the case if siliceous matter had been deposited from a solution. 2dly, The termination of the flinty impregnation has assumed such a form, precisely, as would naturally happen from a fluid flint penetrating that body.
In other specimens of this mineralising operation, fossil wood, penetrated, more or less, with ferruginous and calcareous substances, has been afterwards penetrated with a flinty substance. In this case, with whatever different substances the woody body shall be supposed to have been penetrated in a state of solution by water, the regular structure of the plant would still have remained, with its vacuities, variously filled with the petrifying substances, separated from the aqueous menstruum, and deposited in the vascular structure of the wood. There cannot be a doubt with regard to the truth of this proposition; for, as it is, we frequently find parts of the consolidated wood, with the vascular structure remaining perfectly in its natural shape and situation; but if it had been by aqueous solution that the wood had been penetrated and consolidated, all the parts of that body would be found in the same natural shape and situation.
This, however, is far from being the case; for while, in some parts, the vascular structure is preserved entire, it is also evident, that, in general, the woody structure is variously broken and dissolved by the fusion and crystallization of the flint. There are so many and such various convincing examples of this, that, to attempt to describe them, would be to exceed the bounds prescribed for this dissertation; but such specimens are in my possession, ready for the inspection of any person who may desire to study the subject.
We may now proceed to consider sulphureous substances, with regard to their solubility in water, and to the part which these bodies have acted in consolidating the strata of the globe.
The sulphureous substances here meant to be considered, are substances not soluble in, water, so far as we know, but fusible by heat, and inflammable or combustible by means of heat and vital air. These substances are of two kinds; the one more simple, the other more compound.
The most simple kind is composed of two different substances, viz. phlogiston, with certain specific substances; from which result, on the one hand, sulphur, and, on the other, proper coal and metals. The more compound sort, again, is oily matter, produced by vegetables, and forming bituminous bodies.
The first of these is found naturally combined with almost all metallic substances, which are then said to be mineralised with sulphur. Now, it is well known, that this mineralising operation is performed by means of heat or fusion; and there is no person skilled in chemistry that will pretend to say, this may be done by aqueous solution. The combination of iron and sulphur, for example, may easily be performed by fusion; but, by aqueous solution, this particular combination is again resolved, and forms an acido-metallic, that is, a vitriolic substance, after the phlogiston (by means of which it is insoluble in water) has been separated from the composition, by the assistance of vital air.
The variety of these sulphureo-metallic substances, in point of composition, is almost indefinite; but, unless they were all soluble in water, this could not have happened by the action of that solvent. If we shall allow any one of those bodies to have been formed by the fluidity of heat, they must all have been formed in the same manner; for there is such a chain of connection among those bodies in the mineral regions, that they must all have been composed, either, on the one hand, by aqueous solution, or, on the other, by means of heat and fusion.
Here, for example, are crystallised together in one mass, 1st, Pyrites, containing sulphur, iron, copper; 2dly, Blend, a composition of iron, sulphur, and calamine; 3dly, Galena, consisting of lead and sulphur; 4thly, Marmor metallicum, being the terra ponderosa, saturated with the vitriolic acid; a substance insoluble in water; 5thly, Fluor, a saturation of calcareous earth, with a peculiar acid, called the acid of spar, also insoluble in water; 6thly, Calcareous spar, of different kinds, being calcareous earth saturated with fixed air, and something besides, which forms a variety in this substance; lastly, Siliceous substance, or Quartz crystals. All these bodies, each possessing its proper shape, are mixed in such a manner as it would be endless to describe, but which may be expressed in general by saying, that they are mutually contained in, and contain each other.
Unless, therefore; every one of these different substances may be dissolved in water, and crystallised from it, it is in vain to look for the explanation of these appearances in the operations of nature, by the means of aqueous solution.
On the other hand, heat being capable of rendering all these substances fluid, they may be, with the greatest simplicity, transported from one place to another; and they may be made to concrete altogether at the same time, and distinctly separate in any place. Hence, for the explanation of those natural appearances, which are so general, no further conditions are required, than the supposition of a sufficient intensity of subterraneous fire or heat, and a sufficient degree of compression upon those bodies, which are to be subjected to that violent heat, without calcination or change. But, so far as this supposition is not gratuitous, the appearances of nature will be thus explained.
I shall only mention one specimen, which must appear most decisive of the question. It is, I believe, from an Hungarian mine. In this specimen, petro-silex, pyrites, and cinnabar, are so mixed together, and crystallised upon each other, that it is impossible to conceive any one of those bodies to have had its fluidity and concretion from a cause which had not affected the other two. Now, let those who would deny the fusion of this siliceous body explain how water could dissolve these three different bodies, and deposit them in their present shape. If, on the contrary, they have not the least shadow of reason for such a gratuitous supposition, the present argument must be admitted in its full force.
Sulphur and metals are commonly found combined in the mineral regions. But this rule is not universal; for they are also frequently in a separate state. There is not, perhaps, a metal, among the great number which are now discovered, that may not be found native, as they are called, or in their metallic state.
Metallic substances are also thus found in some proportion to the disposition of the particular metals, to resist the mineralising operations, and to their facility of being metallised by fire and fusion. Gold, which refuses to be mineralised with sulphur, is found generally in its native state. Iron, again, which is so easily mineralised and scorified, is seldom found in its malleable state. The other metals are all found more or less mineralised, though some of them but rarely in the native state.
Besides being found with circumstances thus corresponding to the natural facility, or to the impediments attending the metallization of those different calces, the native metals are also found in such a shape, and with such marks, as can only agree with the fusion of those bodies; that is to say, those appearances are perfectly irreconcilable with any manner of solution and precipitation.
For the truth of this assertion, among a thousand other examples, I appeal to that famous mass of native iron discovered by Mr Pallas in Siberia. This mass being so well known to all the mineralists of Europe, any comment upon its shape and structure will be unnecessary 8.
We come now to the second species of inflammable bodies called oily or bituminous. These substances are also found variously mixed with mineral bodies, as well as forming strata of themselves; they are, therefore, a proper subject for a particular examination.
In the process of vegetation, there are produced oily and resinous substances; and, from the collection of these substances at the bottom of the ocean, there are formed strata, which have afterwards undergone various degrees of beat, and have been variously changed, in consequence of the effects of that heat, according as the distillation of the more volatile parts of those bodies has been suffered to proceed.
In order to understand this, it must be considered, that, while immersed in water, and under insuperable compression, the vegetable, oily, and resinous substances, would appear to be unalterable by heat; and it is only in proportion as certain chemical separations take place, that these inflammable bodies are changed in their substance by the application of heat. Now, the most general change of this kind is in consequence of evaporation, or the distillation of their more volatile parts, by which oily substances become bituminous, and bituminous substances become coaly.
There is here a gradation which may be best understood, by comparing the extremes.
On the one hand, we know by experiment, that oily and bituminous substances can be melted and partly changed into vapour by heat, and that they become harder and denser, in proportion as the more volatile parts have evaporated from them. On the other hand, coaly substances are destitute of fusibility and volatility, in proportion as they have been exposed to greater degrees of heat, and to other circumstances favourable to the dissipation of their more volatile and fluid parts.
If, therefore, in mineral bodies, we find the two extreme states of this combustible substance, and also the intermediate states, we must either conclude, that this particular operation of heat has been thus actually employed in nature, or we must explain those appearances by some other means, in as satisfactory a manner, and so as shall be consistent with other appearances.
In this case, it will avail nothing to have recourse to the false analogy of water dissolving and crystallising salts, which has been so much employed for the explanation of other mineral appearances. The operation here in question is of a different nature, and necessarily requires both the powers of heat and proper conditions for evaporation.
Therefore, in order to decide the point, with regard to what is the power in nature by which mineral bodies have become solid, we have but to find bituminous substance in the most complete state of coal, intimately connected with some other substance, which is more generally found consolidating the strata, and assisting in the concretion of mineral substances. But I have in my possession the most undoubted proof of this kind. It is a mineral vein, or cavity, in which are blended together coal of the most fixed kind, quartz and marmor metallicum. Nor is this all; for the specimen now referred to is contained in a rock of this kind, which every naturalist now-a-days will allow to have congealed from a fluid state of fusion. I have also similar specimens from the same place, in which the coal is not of that fixed and infusible kind which burns without flame or smoke, but is bituminous or inflammable coal.
We have hitherto been resting the argument upon a single point, for the sake of simplicity or clearness, not for want of those circumstances which shall be found to corroborate the theory. The strata of fossil coal are found in almost every intermediate state, as well as in those of bitumen and charcoal. Of the one kind is that fossil coal which melts or becomes fluid upon receiving heat; of the other, is that species of coal, found both in Wales and Scotland, which is perfectly infusible in the fire, and burns like coals, without flame or smoke. The one species abounds in oily matter, the other has been distilled by heat, until it has become a caput mortuum, or perfect coal.
The more volatile parts of these bituminous bodies are found in their separate state on some occasions. There is a stratum of limestone in Fifeshire, near Raith, which, though but slightly tinged with a black colour, contains bituminous matter, like pitch, in many cavities, which are lined with calcareous spar crystallised. I have a specimen of such a cavity, in which the bitumen is in sphericles, or rounded drops, immersed in the calcareous spar.
Now, it is to be observed, that, if the cavity in the solid limestone or marble, which is lined with calcareous crystals containing pyrites, had been thus encrusted by means of the filtration of water, this water must have dissolved calcareous spar, pyrites, and bitumen. But these natural appearances would not even be explained by this dissolution and supposed filtration of those substances. There is also required, first, A cause for the separation of those different substances from the aqueous menstruum in which they had been dissolved; 2dly, An explanation of the way in which a dissolved bitumen should be formed into round hard bodies of the most solid structure; and, lastly, Some probable means for this complicated operation being performed, below the bottom of the ocean, in the close cavity of a marble stratum.
Thus, the additional proof, from the facts relating to the bituminous substances, conspiring with that from the phenomena of other bodies, affords the strongest corroboration of this opinion, that the various concretions found in the internal parts of strata have not been occasioned by means of aqueous solution, but by the power of heat and operation of simple fusion, preparing those different substances to concrete and crystallise in cooling.
The arguments which have been now employed for proving that strata have been consolidated by the power of heat, or by the means of fusion, have been drawn chiefly from the insoluble nature of those consolidating substances in relation to water, which is the only general menstruum that can be allowed for the mineral regions. But there are found, in the mineral kingdom, many solid masses of saltgem, which is a soluble substance. It may be now inquired, How far these masses, which are not infrequent in the earth, tend either to confirm the present theory, or, on the contrary, to give countenance to that which supposes water the chief instrument in consolidating strata.
The formation of salt at the bottom of the sea, without the assistance of subterranean fire, is not a thing unsupposable, as at first sight it might appear. Let us but suppose a rock placed across the gut of Gibraltar, (a case nowise unnatural), and the bottom of the Mediterranean would be certainly filled with salt, because the evaporation from the surface of that sea exceeds the measure of its supply.
But strata of salt, formed in this manner at the bottom of the sea, are as far from being consolidated by means of aqueous solution, as a bed of sand in the same situation; and we cannot explain the consolidation of such a stratum of salt by means of water, without supposing subterranean heat employed, to evaporate the brine which would successively occupy the interstices of the saline crystals. But this, it may be observed, is equally departing from the natural operation of water, as the means for consolidating the sediment of the ocean, as if we were to suppose the same thing done by heat and fusion. For the question is not, If subterranean heat be of sufficient intensity for the purpose of consolidating strata by the fusion of their substances; the question is, Whether it be by means of this agent, subterranean heat, or by water alone, without the operation of a melting heat, that those materials have been variously consolidated.
The example now under consideration, consolidated mineral salt, will serve to throw some light upon the subject; for, as it is to be shown, that this body of salt had been consolidated by perfect fusion, and not by means of aqueous solution, the consolidation of strata of indissoluble substances, by the operation of a melting heat, will meet with all that confirmation which the consistency of natural appearances can give.
The salt rock in Cheshire lies in strata of red marl. It is horizontal in its direction. I do not know its thickness, but it is dug thirty or forty feet deep. The body of this rock is perfectly solid, and the salt, in many places, pure, colourless, and transparent, breaking with a sparry cubical structure. But the greatest part is tinged by the admixture of the marl, and that in various degrees, from the slightest tinge of red, to the most perfect opacity. Thus, the rock appears as if it had been a mass of fluid salt, in which had been floating a quantity of marly substance, not uniformly mixed, but every where separating and subsiding from the pure saline substance.
There is also to be observed a certain regularity in this separation of the tinging from the colourless substance, which, at a proper distance, gives to the perpendicular section of the rock a distinguishable figure in its structure. When looking at this appearance near the bottom of the rock, it, at first, presented me with the figure of regular stratification; but, upon examining the whole mass of rock, I found, that it was only towards the bottom that this stratified appearance took place; and that, at the top of the rock, the most beautiful and regular figure was to be observed; but a figure the most opposite to that of stratification. It was all composed of concentric circles; and these appeared to be the section of a mass, composed altogether of concentric spheres, like those beautiful systems of configuration which agates so frequently present us with in miniature. In about eight or ten feet from the top, the circles growing large, were blended together, and gradually lost their regular appearance, until, at a greater depth, they again appeared in resemblance of a stratification.
This regular arrangement of the floating marly substance in the body of salt, which is that of the structure of a coated pebble, or that of concentric spheres, is altogether inexplicable upon any other supposition, than the perfect fluidity or fusion of the salt, and the attractions and repulsions of the contained substances. It is in vain to look, in the operations of solution and evaporation, for that which nothing but perfect fluidity or fusion can explain.
This example of a mineral salt congealed from a melted state, may be confirmed from another which I have from Dr Black, who suggested it to me. It is an alkaline salt, found in a mineral state, and described in the Philosophical Transactions, anno 1771. But to understand this specimen, something must be premised with regard to the nature of fossil alkali.
The fossil alkali crystallises from a dissolved state, in combining itself with a large portion of the water, in the manner of alum; and, in this case, the water is essential to the constitution of that transparent crystalline body; for, upon the evaporation of the water, the transparent salt loses its solidity, and becomes a white powder. If, instead of being gently dried, the crystalline salt is suddenly exposed to a sufficient degree of heat, that is, somewhat more than boiling water, it enters into the state of aqueous fusion, and it boils, in emitting the water by means of which it had been crystallised in the cold, and rendered fluid in that heated state. It is not possible to crystallise this alkaline salt from a dissolved state, without the combination of that quantity of water, nor to separate that water without destroying its crystalline state.
But in this mineral specimen, we have a solid crystalline salt, with a structure which, upon fracture, appears to be sparry and radiated, something resembling that of zeolite. It contains no water in its crystallization, but melts in a sufficient heat, without any aqueous fusion. Therefore, this salt must have been in a fluid state of fusion, immediately before its congelation and crystallization.
It would be endless to give examples of particular facts, so many are the different natural appearances that occur, attended with a variety of different circumstances.
There is one, however, which is peculiarly distinct, admits of sufficiently accurate description, and contains circumstances from which conclusions may be drawn with clearness. This is the ironstone, which is commonly found among the argillaceous strata, attendant upon fossil coal, both in Scotland and in England.
This stone is generally found among the bituminous schistus, or black argillaceous strata, either in separate masses of various shapes and sizes, or forming of itself strata which are more or less continuous in their direction among the schistus or argillaceous beds.
This mineral contains, in general, from 40 to 50 per cent. of iron, and it loses near one third of its weight in calcination. Before calcination it is of a grey colour, is not penetrable by water, and takes a polish. In this state, therefore, it is perfectly solid; but being calcined, it becomes red, porous, and tender.
The fact to be proved with regard to these iron-stones is this, That they have acquired their solid state from fusion, and not in concreting from any aqueous solution.
To abridge this disquisition, no argument is to be taken from contingent circumstances, (which, however, are often found here as well as in the case of marbles); such only are to be employed as are general to the subject, and arise necessarily from the nature of the operation.
It will be proper to describe a species of these stones, which is remarkably regular in its form. It is that found at Aberlady, in East Lothian.
The form of these iron-stones is that of an oblate or much compressed sphere, and the size from two or three inches diameter to more than a foot. In the circular or horizontal section, they present the most elegant septarium 9; and, from the examination of this particular structure, the following conclusions may be drawn.
First, That, the septa have been formed by the uniform contraction of the internal parts of the stone, the volume of the central parts diminishing more than that of the circumference; by this means, the separations of the stone diminish, in a progression from the center towards the circumference.
2d, That there are only two ways in which the septa must have received the spar or spatthose ore with which they are filled, more or less, either, first By insinuation into the cavity of the septa after these were formed; or, 2dly, By separation from the substance of the stone, at the same time that the septa were forming.
Were the first supposition true, appearances would be observable, showing that the sparry substance had been admitted, either through the porous structure of the stone, or through proper apertures communicating from without. Now, if either one or other of these had been the case, and that the stone had been consolidated from no other cause than concretion from a dissolved state, that particular structure of the stone, by means of which the spar had been admitted, must appear at present upon an accurate examination.
This, however, is not the case, and we may rest the argument here. The septa reach not the circumference; the surface of the stone is solid and uniform in every part; and there is not any appearance of the spar in the argillaceous bed around the stone.
It, therefore, necessarily follows, that the contraction of the iron-stone, in order to form septa, and the filling of these cavities with spar, had proceededpari passu; and that this operation must have been brought about by means of fusion, or by congelation from a state of simple fluidity and expansion.
It is only further to be observed, that all the arguments which have been already employed, concerning mineral concretions from a simply fluid state, or that of fusion, here take place. I have septaria of this kind, in which, besides pyrites, iron-ore, calcareous spar, and another that is ferruginous and compound, there is contained siliceous crystals; a case which is not so common. I have them also attended with circumstances of concretion and crystallization, which, besides being extremely rare, are equally curious and interesting.
There is one fact more which is well worth our attention, being one of those which are so general in the mineral regions. It is the crystallizations which are found in close cavities of the most solid bodies.
Nothing is more common than this appearance. Cavities are every where found closely lined with crystallizations, of every different substance which may be supposed in those places. These concretions are well known to naturalists, and form part of the beautiful specimens which are preserved in the cabinets of collectors, and which the German mineralists have termed Drusen. I shall only particularise one species, which may be described upon principle, and therefore may be a proper subject on which to reason, for ascertaining the order of production in certain bodies. This body, which we are now to examine, is of the agate species.
We have now been considering the means employed by nature in consolidating strata which were originally of an open structure; but in perfectly solid strata we find bodies of agate, which have evidently been formed in that place where they now are found. This fact, however, is not still that of which we are now particularly to inquire; for this, of which we are to treat, concerns only a cavity within this agate; now, whatever may have been the origin of the agate itself, we are to show, from what appears within its cavity, that the crystallizations which are found in this place had arisen from a simply fluid state, and not from that of any manner of solution.
The agates now in question are those of the coated kind, so frequent in this country, called pebbles. Many of these are filled with a siliceous crystallization, which evidently proceeds from the circumference towards the centre. Many of them, again, are hollow. Those cavities are variously lined with crystallized substances; and these are the object of the present examination.
But before describing what is found within, it is necessary to attend to this particular circumstance, that the cavity is perfectly inclosed with many solid coats, impervious to air or water, but particularly with the external cortical part, which is extremely hard, takes the highest polish, and is of the most perfect solidity, admitting the passage of nothing but light and heat.
Within these cavities, we find, 1st, The coat of crystals with which this cavity is always lined; and this is general to all substances concreting, in similar circumstances, from a state of fusion; for when thus at liberty they naturally crystallise. 2dly, We have frequently a subsequent crystallization, resting on the first, and more or less immersed in it. 3dly, There is also sometimes a third crystallization, superincumbent on the second, in like manner as the second was on the first. I shall mention some particulars.
I have one specimen, in which the primary crystals are siliceous, the secondary thin foliaceous crystals of deep red but transparent iron-ore, forming elegant figures, that have the form of roses. The tertiary crystallization is a frosting of small siliceous crystals upon the edges of the foliaceous crystals.
In other specimens, there is first a lining of colourless siliceous crystals, then another lining of amethystine crystals, and sometimes within that, fuliginous crystals. Upon these fuliginous and amethystine crystals are many sphericles or hemispheres of red compact iron-ore, like haematites.
In others, again, the primary crystals are siliceous, and the secondary calcareous. Of this kind, I have one which has, upon the calcareous crystals, beautiful transparent siliceous crystals, and iron sphericles both upon all these crystals, and within them.
Lastly, I have an agate formed of various red and white coats, and beautifully figured. The cavity within the coated part of the pebble is filled up without vacuity, first, with colourless siliceous crystals; secondly, with fuliginous crystals; and, lastly, with white or colourless calcareous spar. But between the spar and crystals there are many sphericles, seemingly of iron, half sunk into each of these two different substances.
From these facts, I may now be allowed to draw the following conclusions:
1st, That concretion had proceeded from the surface of the agate body inwards. This necessarily follows from the nature of those figured bodies, the figures of the external coats always determining the shape of those within, and never, contrarily, those within affecting those without.
2dly, That when the agate was formed, the cavity then contained every thing which now is found within it, and nothing more.
3dly, That the contained substances must have been in a fluid state, in order to their crystallizing.
Lastly, That as this fluid state had not been the effect of solution in a menstruum, it must have been fluidity from heat and fusion.
Let us now make one general observation and argument with regard to the formation of those various coated, concreted, crystallized, and configured bodies. Were the crystallization and configuration found to proceed from a central body, and to be directed from that centre outwards, then, without inquiring into collateral appearances, and other proofs with regard to the natural concretion of those substances, we might suppose that these concretions might have proceeded from that central body gradually by accretion, and that the concreting and crystallizing substances might have been supplied from a fluid which had before retained the concreting substance in solution; in like manner as the crystallizations of sugar, which are formed in the solution of that saccharine substance, and are termed candies, are formed upon the threads which are extended in the crystallizing vessel for that purpose. But if, on the contrary, we are to consider those mineral bodies as spheres of alternate coats, composed of agate, crystal, spars, etc.; and if all those crystallizations have their bases upon the uncrystallized coat which is immediately external to it, and their apices turned inwards into the next internal solid coat, it is not possible to conceive that a structure of this kind could have been formed in any manner from a solution. But this last manner is the way without exception in which those mineral bodies are found; therefore we are to conclude, that the concretion of those bodies had proceeded immediately from a state of fusion or simple fluidity.
In granite these cavities are commonly lined with the crystal corresponding to the constituent substances of the stone, viz. quartz, feld-spar, and mica or talk. M. de Saussure, (Voyages dans les Alpes, tom. ii. §722.), says, "On trouve fréquemment des amas considérables de spath calcaire, crystallisé dans les grottes ou se forme le crystal de roche; quoique ces grottes soient renfermées dans le coeur des montagnes d'un granit vif, & qu'on ne voie aucun roc calcaire au dessus de ces montagnes."
So accurate an observer, and so complete a naturalist, must have observed how the extraneous substance had been introduced into this cavity, had they not been formed together the cavity and the calcareous crystals. That M. de Saussure perceived no means for that introduction, will appear from what immediately follows in that paragraph. "Ces rocs auroient-ils été détruits, ou bien ce spath n'est il que le produit d'une sécrétion des parties calcaires que l'on fait êtres dispersées entre les divers élémens du granit?"
Had M. de Saussure allowed himself to suppose all those substances in fusion, of which there cannot be a doubt, he would soon have resolved both this difficulty, and also that of finding molybdena crystallized along with feld-spar, in a cavity of this kind. §718.
To this argument, taken from the close cavities in our agates, I am now to add another demonstration. It is the case of the calcedony agate, containing a body of calcareous spar; here it is to be shown, that, while the calcareous body was altogether inclosed within the calcedony nodular body, these two substances had been perfectly soft, and had mutually affected each others shape, in concreting from a fluid state. In order to see this, we are to consider that both those substances have specific shapes in which they concrete from the third state; the sparry structure of the one is well known; the spherical or mammelated crystallization of the calcedony, is no less conspicuous; this last is, in the present case, spherical figures, which are some of them hemispheres, or even more. The figures which we have now in contemplation are so distinctly different as cannot be mistaken; the one is a rhombic figure bounded by planes; the other is a most perfect spherical form; and both these are specific figures, belonging respectively to the crystallization of those two substances.
The argument now to be employed for proving that those two bodies had concreted from the fluid state of fusion, and not from any manner of solution, is this: That, were the one of those bodies to be found impressing the other with its specific figure, we must conclude that the impressing body had concreted or crystallized while the impressed body was in a soft or fluid state; and that, if they are both found mutually impressing and impressed by each other, they must have both been in the fluid and concreting state together. Now the fact is, that the calcareous body is perfectly inclosed within the solid calcedony, and that they are mutually impressed by each others specific figure, the sparry structure of the calcareous body impressing the calcedony with its type of planes and angles, at the same time that, in other parts, the spherical figures of the calcedony enter the solid body of the spar, and thus impress their mammelated figures into that part which is contiguous. It is therefore inconceivable, that these appearances could have been produced in any other manner than by those two bodies concreting from a simply fluid state.
There are in jaspers and agates many other appearances, from whence the fusion of those substances may be concluded with great certainty and precision; but it is hoped, that what has been now given may suffice for establishing that proposition without any doubt.
It must not be here objected, That there are frequently found siliceous crystals and amethysts containing water; and that it is impossible to confine water even in melted glass. It is true, that here, at the surface of the earth, melted glass cannot, in ordinary circumstances, be made to receive and inclose condensed water; but let us only suppose a sufficient degree of compression in the body of melted glass, and we can easily imagine it to receive and confine water as well as any other substance. But if, even in our operations, water, by means of compression, may be made to endure the heat of red hot iron without being converted into vapour, what may not the power of nature be able to perform? The place of mineral operations is not on the surface of the earth; and we are not to limit nature with our imbecility, or estimate the powers of nature by the measure of our own. 10
To conclude this long chemico-mineral disquisition, I have specimens in which the mixture of calcareous, siliceous, and metallic substances, in almost every species of concretion which is to be found in mineral bodies, may be observed, and in which there is exhibited, in miniature, almost every species of mineral transaction, which, in nature, is found upon a scale of grandeur and magnificence. They are nodules contained in the whin-stone, porphyry, or basaltes of the Calton-hill, by Edinburgh; a body which is to be afterwards examined, when it will be found to have flowed, and to have been in fusion, by the operation of subterraneous heat.
This evidence, though most conclusive with regard to the application of subterraneous heat, as the means employed in bringing into fusion all the different substances with which strata may be found consolidated, is not directly a proof that strata had been consolidated by the fusion of their proper substance. It was necessary to see the general nature of the evidence, for the universal application of subterraneous heat, in the fusion of every kind of mineral body. Now, that this has been done, we may give examples of strata consolidated without the introduction of foreign matter, merely by the softening or fusion of their own materials.
For this purpose, we may consider two different species of strata, such as are perfectly simple in their nature, of the most distinct substances, and whose origin is perfectly understood, consequently, whose subsequent changes may be reasoned upon with certainty and clearness. These are the siliceous and calcareous strata; and these are the two prevailing substances of the globe, all the rest being, in comparison of these, as nothing; for unless it be the bituminous or coal strata, there is hardly any other which does not necessarily contain more or less of one or other of these two substances. If, therefore, it can be shown, that both of those two general strata have been consolidated by the simple fusion of their substance, no desideratum or doubt will remain, with regard to the nature of that operation which has been transacted at great depths of the earth, places to which all access is denied to mortal eyes.
We are now to prove, first, That those strata have been consolidated by simple fusion; and, 2dly, That this operation is universal, in relation to the strata of the earth, as having produced the various degrees of solidity or hardness in these bodies.
I shall first remark, that a fortuitous collection of hard bodies, such as gravel and sand, can only touch in points, and cannot, while in that hard state, be made to correspond so precisely to each others shape as to consolidate the mass. But if these hard bodies should be softened in their substance, or brought into a certain degree of fusion, they might be adapted mutually to each other, and thus consolidate the open structure of the mass. Therefore, to prove the present point, we have but to exhibit specimens of siliceous and calcareous strata which have been evidently consolidated in this manner.
Of the first kind, great varieties occur in this country. It is, therefore, needless to describe these particularly. They are the consolidated strata of gravel and sand, often containing abundance of feld-spar, and thus graduating into granite; a body, in this respect, perfectly similar to the more regular strata which we now examine.
The second kind, again, are not so common in this country, unless we consider the shells and coralline bodies in our lime-stones, as exhibiting the same example, which indeed they do. But I have a specimen of marble from Spain, which may be described, and which will afford the most satisfactory evidence of the fact in question.
This Spanish marble may be considered as a species of pudding-stone, being formed of calcareous gravel; a species of marble which, from Mr Bowles' Natural History, appears to be very common in Spain. The gravel of which this marble is composed, consists of fragments of other marbles of different kinds. Among these, are different species of oolites marble, some shell marbles, and some composed of a chalky substance, or of undistinguishable parts. But it appears, that all these different marbles had been consolidated or made hard, then broken into fragments, rolled and worn by attrition, and thus collected together, along with some sand or small siliceous bodies, into one mass. Lastly, This compound body is consolidated in such a manner as to give the most distinct evidence, that this had been executed by the operation of heat or simple fusion.
The proof I give is this, That besides the general conformation of those hard bodies, so as to be perfectly adapted to each other's shape, there is, in some places, a mutual indentation of the different pieces of gravel into each other; an indentation which resembles perfectly that junction of the different bones of the cranium, called sutures, and which must have necessarily required a mixture of those bodies while in a soft or fluid state.
This appearance of indentation is by no means singular, or limited to one particular specimen. I have several specimens of different marbles, in which fine examples of this species of mixture may be perceived. But in this particular case of the Spanish pudding-stone, where the mutual indentation is made between two pieces of hard stone, worn round by attrition, the softening or fusion of these two bodies is not simply rendered probable, but demonstrated.
Having thus proved, that those strata had been consolidated by simple fusion, as proposed, we now proceed to show, that this mineral operation had been not only general, as being found in all the regions of the globe, but universal, in consolidating our earth in all the various degrees, from loose and incoherent shells and sand, to the most solid bodies of the siliceous and calcareous substances.
To exemplify this in the various collections and mixtures of sands, gravels, shells, and corals, were endless and superfluous. I shall only take, for an example, one simple homogeneous body, in order to exhibit it in the various degrees of consolidation, from the state of simple incoherent earth to that of the most solid marble. It must be evident that this is chalk; naturally a soft calcareous earth, but which may be also found consolidated in every different degree.
Through the middle of the Isle of Wight, there runs a ridge of hills of indurated chalk. This ridge runs from the Isle of Wight directly west into Dorsetshire, and goes by Corscastle towards Dorchester, perhaps beyond that place. The sea has broke through this ridge at the west end of the Isle of Wight, where columns of the indurated chalk remain, called the Needles; the same appearance being found upon the opposite shore in Dorsetshire.
In this field of chalk, we find every gradation of that soft earthy substance to the most consolidated body of this indurated ridge, which is not solid marble, but which has lost its chalky property, and has acquired a kind of stony hardness.
We want only further to see this cretaceous substance in its most indurated and consolidated state; and this we have in the north of Ireland, not far from the Giants Causeway. I have examined cargoes of this lime-stone brought to the west of Scotland, and find the most perfect evidence of this body having been once a mass of chalk, which is now a solid marble.
Thus, if it is by means of fusion that the strata of the earth have been, in many places, consolidated, we must conclude, that all the degrees of consolidation, which are indefinite, have been brought about by the same means.
Now, that all the strata of the mineral regions, which are those only now examined, have been consolidated in some degree, is a fact for which no proof can be offered here, but must be submitted to experience and inquiry; so far, however, as they shall be considered as consolidated in any degree, which they certainly are in general, we have investigated the means which had been employed in that mineral operation.
We have now considered the concretions of particular bodies, and the general consolidation of strata; but it may be alleged, that there is a great part of the solid mass of this earth not properly comprehended among those bodies which have been thus proved to be consolidated by means of fusion. The body here alluded to is granite; a mass which is not generally stratified, and which, being a body perfectly solid, and forming some part in the structure of this earth, deserves to be considered.
The nature of granite, as a part of the structure of the earth, is too intricate a subject to be here considered, where we only seek to prove the fusion of a substance from the evident marks which are to be observed in a body. We shall, therefore, only now consider one particular species of granite; and if this shall appear to have been in a fluid state of fusion, we may be allowed to extend this property to all the kind.
The species now to be examined comes from the north country, about four or five miles west from Portfoy, on the road to Huntly. I have not been upon the spot, but am informed that this rock is immediately connected or continuous with the common granite of the country. This indeed appears in the specimens which I have got; for, in some of these, there is to be perceived a gradation from the regular to the irregular sort.
This rock may indeed be considered, in some respects, as a porphyry; for it has an evident ground, which is feld-spar, in its sparry state; and it is, in one view, distinctly maculated with quartz, which is transparent, but somewhat dark-coloured 11.
Considered as a porphyry, this specimen is no less singular than as a granite. For, instead of a siliceous ground, maculated with the rhombic feld-spar, which is the common state of porphyry, the ground is uniformly crystallised, or a homogeneous regular feld-spar, maculated with the transparent siliceous substance. But as, besides the feld-spar and quartz, which are the constituent parts of the stone, there is also mica, in some places, it may, with propriety, be termed a granite.
The singularity of this specimen consists, not in the nature or proportions of its constituent parts, but in the uniformity of the sparry ground, and the regular shape of the quartz mixture. This siliceous substance, viewed in one direction, or longitudinally, may be considered as columnar, prismatical, or continued in lines running nearly parallel. These columnar bodies of quartz are beautifully impressed with a figure on the sides, where they are in contact with the spar. This figure is that of furrows or channels, which are perfectly parallel, and run across the longitudinal direction of the quartz. This is represented in fig. 4. This striated figure is only seen when, by fracture, the quartz is separated from the contiguous spar.
But what I would here more particularly represent is, the transverse section of those longitudinal siliceous bodies These are seen in fig. 1. 2. and 3. They have not only separately the forms of certain typographic characters, but collectively give the regular lineal appearance of types set in writing.
It is evident from the inspection of this fossil, that the sparry and siliceous substances had been mixed together in a fluid state; and that the crystallization of the sparry substance, which is rhombic, had determined the regular structure of the quartz, at least in some directions.
Thus, the siliceous substance is to be considered as included in the spar, and as figured, according to the laws of crystallization proper to the sparry ground; but the spar is also to be found included in the quartz. It is not, indeed, always perfectly included or inclosed on all sides; but this is sometimes the case, or it appears so in the section. Fig. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. and 10. are those cases magnified, and represent the different figured quartz inclosing the feld-spar. In one of them, the feld-spar, which is contained within the quartz, contains also a small triangle of quartz, which it incloses. Now, it is not possible to conceive any other way in which those two substances, quartz and feld-spar, could be thus concreted, except by congelation from a fluid state, in which they had been mixed.
There is one thing more to be observed with regard to this curious species of granite. It is the different order or arrangement of the crystallization or internal structure of the feld-spar ground, in two contiguous parts of the same mass. This is to be perceived in the polished surface of the stone, by means of the reflection of light.
There is a certain direction in which, viewing the stone, when the light falls with a proper obliquity, we see a luminous reflection from the internal parts of the stone. This arises from the reflecting surfaces of the sparry structure or minute cracks, all turned in one direction, consequently, giving that luminous appearance only in one point of view.
Now, all the parts of the stone in which the figured quartz is directed in the same manner, or regularly placed in relation to each other, present that shining appearance to the eye at one time, or in the same point of direction. But there are parts of the mass, which, though immediately contiguous and properly continuous, have a different disposition of the figured quartz; and these two distinguished masses, in the same surface of the polished stone, give to the eye their shining appearance in very different directions. Fig. 3. shows two of those figured and shining masses, in the same plane or polished surface.
It must be evident, that, as the crystallization of the sparry structure is the figuring cause of the quartz bodies, there must be observed a certain correspondency between those two things, the alinement (if I may be allowed the expression) of the quartz, and the shining of the sparry ground. It must also appear, that at the time of congelation of the fluid spar, those two contiguous portions had been differently disposed in the crystallization of their substance. This is an observation which I have had frequent opportunities of making, with respect to masses of calcareous spar.
Upon the whole, therefore, whether we shall consider granite as a stratum or as an irregular mass, whether as a collection of several materials, or as the separation of substances which had been mixed, there is sufficient evidence of this body having been consolidated by means of fusion, and in no other manner.
We are thus led to suppose, that the power of heat and operation of fusion must have been employed in consolidating strata of loose materials, which had been collected together and amassed at the bottom of the ocean. It will, therefore, be proper to consider, what are the appearances in consolidated strata that naturally should follow, on the one hand, from fluidity having been, in this manner, introduced by means of heat, and, on the other, from the interstices being filled by means of solution; that so we may compare appearances with the one and other of those two suppositions, in order to know that with which they may be only found consistent.
The consolidation of strata with every different kind of substance was found to be inconsistent with the supposition, that aqueous solution had been the means employed for this purpose. This appearance, on the contrary, is perfectly consistent with the idea, that the fluidity of these bodies had been the effect of heat; for, whether we suppose the introduction of foreign matter into the porous mass of a stratum for its consolidation, or whether we shall suppose the materials of the mass acquiring a degree of softness, by means of which, together with an immense compression, the porous body might be rendered solid; the power of heat, as the cause of fluidity and vapour, is equally proper and perfectly competent. Here, therefore, appearances are as decidedly in favour of the last supposition, as they had been inconsistent with the first.
But if strata have been consolidated by means of aqueous solution, these masses should be found precisely in the same state as when they were originally deposited from the water. The perpendicular section of those masses might show the compression of the bodies included in them, or of which they are composed; but the horizontal section could not contain any separation of the parts of the stratum from one another.
If, again, strata have been consolidated by means of heat, acting in such a manner as to soften their substance, then, in cooling, they must have formed rents or separations of their substance, by the unequal degrees of contraction which the contiguous strata may have suffered. Here is a most decisive mark by which the present question must be determined.
There is not in nature any appearance more distinct than this of the perpendicular fissures and separations in strata. These are generally known to workmen by the terms of veins or backs and cutters; and there is no consolidated stratum that wants these appearances. Here is, therefore, a clear decision of the question, Whether it has been by means of heat, or by means of aqueous solution, that collections of loose bodies at the bottom of the sea have been consolidated into the hardest rocks and most perfect marbles 12.
Error never can be consistent, nor can truth fail of having support from the accurate examination of every circumstance. It is not enough to have found appearances decisive of the question, with regard to the two suppositions which have been now considered, we may farther seek confirmation of that supposition which has been found alone consistent with appearances.
If it be by means of heat and fusion that strata have been consolidated, then, in proportion to the degree of consolidation they have undergone from their original state, they should, caeteris paribus, abound more with separations in their mass. But this conclusion is found consistent with appearances. A stratum of porous sand-stone does not abound so much with veins and cutters as a similar stratum of marble, or even a similar stratum of sand-stone that is more consolidated. In proportion, therefore, as strata have been consolidated, they are in general intersected with veins and cutters; and in proportion as strata are deep in their perpendicular section, the veins are wide, and placed at greater distances. In like manner, when strata are thin, the veins are many, but proportionally narrow.
It is thus, upon chemical principles, to be demonstrated, That all the solid strata of the globe have been condensed by means of heat, and hardened from a state of fusion. But this proposition is equally to be maintained from principles which are mechanical. The strata of the globe, besides being formed of earths, are composed of sand, of gravel, and fragments of hard bodies, all which may be considered as, in their nature, simple; but these strata are also found composed of bodies which are not simple, but are fragments of former strata, which had been consolidated, and afterwards were broken and worn by attrition, so as to be made gravel. Strata composed in this manner have been again consolidated; and now the question is, By what means?
If strata composed of such various bodies had been consolidated, by any manner of concretion, from the fluidity of a dissolution, the hard and solid bodies must be found in their entire state, while the interstices between those constituent parts of the stratum are filled up. No partial fracture can be conceived as introduced into the middle of a solid mass of hard matter, without having been communicated from the surrounding parts. But such partial separations are found in the middle of those hard and solid masses; therefore, this compound body must have been consolidated by other means than that of concretion from a state of a solution.
The Spanish marble already described, as well as many consolidated strata of siliceous gravel, of which I have specimens, afford the clearest evidence of this fact. These hard bodies are perfectly united together, in forming the most solid mass; the contiguous parts of some of the rounded fragments are interlaced together, as has already been observed; and there are partial shrinkings of the mass forming veins, traversing several fragments, but perfectly filled with the sparry substance of the mass, and sometimes with parts of the stone distinctly floating in the transparent body of spar. Now, there is not, besides heat or fusion, any known power in nature by which these effects might be produced. But such effects are general to all consolidated masses, although not always so well illustrated in a cabinet specimen.
Thus we have discovered a truth that is confirmed by every appearance, so far as the nature of the subject now examined admits. We now return to the general operation, of forming continents of those materials which had been deposited at the bottom of the sea.
v1:5 This conjecture, which I had thus formed, has been fully confirmed by the accurate analysis of those waters. See vol. 3d. of the Phil. Trans. of Edin.
v1:6 The Chevalier de Dolomieu has imagined an ingenious theory for the solution of siliceous substances in water (Journal de Physique, Mai 1792.). This theory has not been taken up merely at a venture, but is founded upon very accurate and interesting chemical experiments. Hitherto, however, the nature of the siliceous substance is not sufficiently known, to enable us to found, upon chemical principles, the mineral operations of nature. That siliceous substance may be dissolved, or rendered soluble in water, by means of alkaline salt, and that it may be also volatilised by means of the fluor acid, is almost all that we know upon the subject. But this is saying no more in relation to the mineral operations employed upon the siliceous substance, than it would be, in relation to those upon gold, to say that this metal is dissolved by aqua regia.
It is to be admitted, that every simple substance may have its menstruum, by means of which it may be retained with water in a dissolved state; but from this it does not follow, that it is by the means of aqueous solutions of all those mineral bodies, that nature operates the consolidation of bodies, which we find actually accomplished with all those different substances. It is the business of this work to show, that from all appearances in the mineral regions, as well as those upon the surface in the atmosphere, the supposition, of that manner of consolidating bodies by solution, is inconsistent both with natural appearances, and also with chemical principles.
Our ingenious author, who has, with, great diligence as well as an enlightened mind, observed the operations of nature upon the surface of the earth, here says, "ce n'est pas sans étonnement que je remarque depuis long-temps que jamais aucune eau qui coule à la surface de la terre n'attaque le quartz, aucune n'en tient en dissolution, pendant que celles qui circulent intérieurement le corrodent aussi souvent qu'elles le déposent."—How dangerous it is in science for ingenious men to allow themselves to form conclusions, which the principles on which they reason do not strictly warrant, we have a remarkable example in the present case.
M. de Dolomieu sees no corrosion of quartz, or solution of that substance, upon the surface of the earth; from this, then, he concludes, that siliceous substance is not dissolved in that situation of things. On the other hand, he finds siliceous bodies variously concreted among the solid strata of the earth; and, from this he concludes, that siliceous substance has been both dissolved by water in the strata, and also there again concreted and crystallised in having been separated from the water. This is certainly what we all perceive; but we do not all allow ourselves to draw such inconclusive inferences from our premises. Notwithstanding the greatest accuracy of our observations, quartz may be dissolvable in a minute degree by water, upon the surface of this earth; and, all the appearances of siliceous bodies, in the mineral regions, where we cannot immediately see the operation, may be better explained by fusion than by aqueous solution.
But, from his chemical experiments, our author has conjectured that there may be a phlogistic substance, by means of which the siliceous earth is dissolved when in darkness; and that this solvent loses its power, if exposed to the light of day. I have one observation to oppose to this ingenious theory. Under deep black mosses, through which no ray of light can penetrate, every condition for dissolving siliceous bodies should be found, according to the supposition in question; neither will sufficient time be found wanting, in those deep mosses, upon the summits of our mountains; yet, examine the matter of fact? not the smallest solution is to be perceived in the siliceous parts of the stones which are found under those mosses, but every particle of iron is dissolved, so that the surface of every stone is white, and nothing but the siliceous earth of the feld-spar, and perhaps the argillaceous, is left.
Here we have in this author an instructive example: No person, in my opinion, has made such enlightened or scientific experiments, or such judicious observations with regard to the nature of siliceous substance, as a compound thing; no person reasons more distinctly in general, or sees more clearly the importance of his principles; yet, with regard to mineral concretions, how often has he been drawn thus inadvertently into improper generalization! I appeal to the analogy which, in this treatise, he has formed, between the stalactical concretions upon the surface of the earth, and the mineral concretions of siliceous substance. As an example of the great lights, and penetrating genius, of this assiduous studier of nature, I refer to the judicious observations which he has made upon the subject of aluminous earth, in this dissertation.
I am surprised to find this enlightened naturalist seeking, in the origin of this globe of our earth, a general principle of fluidity or solution in water, like the alkahest of the alchymists, by means of which the different substances in the chemical constitution of precious stones might have been united as well as crystallised. One would have thought, that a philosopher, so conversant in the operations of subterraneous fire, would have perceived, that there is but one general principle of fluidity or dissolution, and that this is heat.
v1:7 Accurate descriptions of those appearances, with drawings, would be, to natural history, a valuable acquisition.
v1:8 Since this Dissertation was written, M. de la Peyrouse has discovered a native manganese. The circumstances of this mineral are so well adapted for illustrating the present doctrine, and so well related by M. de la Peyrouse, that I should be wanting to the interest of mineral knowledge, were I not to give here that part of his Memoir.
"Lorsque je fis insérer dans le journal de physique de l'année 1780, au mois de Janvier, une Dissertation contenant la classification des mines de manganèse, je ne connoissois point, à cette époque, la mine de manganèse native. Elle a la couleur de son régule: Elle salit les doigts de la même teinte. Son tissu parait aussi lamelleux, et les lames semblent affecter une sorte de divergence. Elle a ainsi que lui, l'éclat métallique; comme lui elle se laisse aplatir sous le marteau, et s'exfolie si l'on redouble les coups; mais une circonstance qui est trop frappante pour que je l'omette, c'est la figure de la manganèse native, si prodigieusement conforme à celle du régule, qu'on s'y laisseroit tromper, si la mine n'étoit encore dans sa gangue: figure très-essentielle à observer ici, parce qu'elle est due à la nature même de la manganèse. En effet, pour réduire toutes les mines en général, il faut employer divers flux appropriés. Pour la réduction de la manganèse, bien loin d'user de ce moyen, il faut, au contraire, éloigner tout flux, produire la fusion, par la seule violence et la promptitude du feu. Et telle est la propension naturelle et prodigieuse de la manganèse à la vitrification, qu'on n'a pu parvenir encore à réduire son régule en un seul culot; on trouve dans le creuset plusieurs petits boutons, qui forment autant de culots séparés. Dans la mine de manganèse native, elle n'est point en une seule masse; elle est disposée également en plusieurs culots séparés, et un peu aplatis, comme ceux que l'art produit; beaucoup plus gros, à la vérité, parce que les agens de la nature doivent avoir une autre énergie, que ceux de nos laboratoires; et cette ressemblance si exacte, semble devoir vous faire penser que la mine native à été produite par le feu, tout comme son régule. La présence de la chaux argentée de la manganèse, me permettroit de croire que la nature n'a fait que réduire cette chaux. Du reste, cette mine native est très-pure, et ne contient aucune partie attirable à l'aimant. Cette mine, unique jusqu'à ce moment, vient, tout comme les autres manganèse que j'ai décrites, des mines de fer de Sem, dans la vallée de Viedersos, en Comté de Foix."—Journal de Physique, Janvier 1786.
v1:9 See pl01.
v1:10 This is so material a principle in the theory of consolidating the strata of the earth by the fusion of mineral substances, that I beg the particular attention of the reader to that subject. The effect of compression upon compound substances, submitted to increased degrees of heat, is not a matter of supposition, it is an established principle in natural philosophy. This, like every other physical principle, is founded upon matter of fact or experience; we find, that many compound substances may with heat be easily changed, by having their more volatile parts separated when under a small compression; but these substances are preserved without change when sufficiently compressed. Our experiments of this kind are necessarily extremely limited; they are not, however, for that reason, the less conclusive. The effects of increasing degrees of heat are certainly prevented by increasing degrees of compression; but the rate at which the different effects of those powers proceed, or the measure of those different degrees of increase that may be made without changing the constitution of the compound substance, are not known; nor is there any limit to be set to that operation, so far as we know. Consequently, it is a physical principle, That the evaporation of volatile substances by heat, or the reparation of them from a compound substance, consequently the effect of fire in changing that compound substance, may be absolutely prevented by means of compression.
It now remains to be considered, how far there is reason to conclude that there had been sufficient degrees of compression in the mineral regions, for the purpose of melting the various substances with which we find strata consolidated, without changing the chemical constitution of those compound substances.
Had I, in reasoning a priori, asserted, That all mineral bodies might have been melted without change, when under sufficient compression, there might have arisen, in the minds of reasoning men, some doubt with regard to the certainty of that proposition, however probable it were to be esteemed: But when, in reasoning a posteriori, it is found that all mineral bodies have been actually melted, then, all that is required to establish the proposition on which I have founded my theory, is to see that there must have been immense degrees of compression upon the subjects in question; for we neither know the degree of heat which had been employed, nor that of compression by which the effect of the heat must have been modified.
Now, in order to see that there had been immense compression, we have but to consider that the formation of the strata, which are to be consolidated, was at the bottom of the ocean, and that this place is to us unfathomable. If it be farther necessary to show that it had been at such unfathomable depth strata were consolidated, it will be sufficient to observe, it is not upon the surface of the earth, or above the level of the sea, that this mineral operation can take place; for, it is there that those consolidated bodies are redissolved, or necessarily going into decay, which is the opposite to that operation which we are now inquiring after; therefore, if they were consolidated in any other place than at the bottom of the sea, it must have been between that place of their formation and the surface of the sea; but that is a supposition which we have not any reason to make; therefore, we must conclude that it was at the bottom of the ocean those stratified bodies had been consolidated.
v1:11 See: Plate II. fig. 1. 2. 3.
v1:12 This subject is extremely interesting, both to the theory of the earth, and to the science cf the mining art; I will now illustrate that theory, with an authority which I received after giving this dissertation to the Royal Society. It is in the second volume of M. de Saussure's voyages dans les Alpes. Here I find proper examples for illustrating that subject of mineralogy; and I am happy to have this opportunity of giving the reasoning of a man of science upon the subject, and the opinion of a person who is in every respect so well qualified to judge upon a point of this kind.
The first example is of a marble in the Alps, (voyages dans les Alpes.) tom. 2. page 271.
"La pâte de ces brèches est tantôt blanche, tantôt grise, et les fragmens qui y font renfermés font, les uns blancs, les autres gris, d'autres roux, et presque toujours d'une couleur différente de celle de la pâte qui les lit. Ils sont tous de nature calcaire; tels étaient au moins tous ceux que j'ai pus observer; et ce qu'il-y-a de remarquable, c'est qu'ils sont tous posés dans le sens des feuillets de la pierre; on diroit en les voyant, qu'ils ont tous été comprimés et écrasés dans le même sens. Cette même pierre est mêlée de mica, sur-tout dans les interstices des couches et entre les fragmens et la pâte qui les réunit; mais on ne voit point de mica dans les fragmens eux-mêmes. On trouve aussi dans ces brèches des infiltrations de quartz. Cette pierre est coupée par des fréquentes fissures perpendiculaires aux plans des couches. On voit clairement que ces fentes out été formées par l'inégal affaissement des couches, et non par une retraite spontanée: car les morceaux ou fragmens étrangers sont tous partagés et coupés net par ces fissures au lieu que dans les divisions naturelles des couches, ces mêmes fragmens sont entiers et saillans au dehors de la surface. Les noeuds de quartz et les divers crystaux, que renferment les roches feuilletées, présentent le même phénomène, et l'on peut en tirer la même conséquence; ils font partagés dans les fentes, et entiers dans les séparations des couches."
He finds those particular strata in the other side of the mountain col de la Seigne, and gives us the following observations:
"Plus bas on passe entre deux bancs de ces mêmes brèches, entre lesquels sont interposées des couches d'ardoises noires et de grès feuilletés micacés, dont la situation est la même.
"On retrouve encore ces brèches vers le has de la descente, au pied de pyramides calcaires dont j'ai parlé plus haut. Je trouvai en 1774 de très-jolis crystaux de roche qui s'étaient formés dans les fentes de cette brèche. Il y avoit même un mélange de quartz et de mica qui s'étoit moulé dans quelques-une de ces fentes. C'étoit donc une roche semblable aux primitives, et pourtant d'une formation postérieure à celle de la pierre calcaire. Et quel système pourroit nous persuader que la nature ne puisse encore produire ce qu'elle a produit autrefois!"
M. de Saussure has here given us an example of a calcareous Braccia, as he calls it, but which is rather a pudding stone, with veins or contractions of the mass. He does not seem to understand these as consequences of the consolidation of those strata; this, however, is the only light in which these appearances may be explained, when those bodies are thus divided without any other separation in the mass.
The second example is found in the vertical strata of those mountains through which the Rhône has made its way in running from the great valley of the Vallais towards the lake of Geneva. (Chapitre xlviii.)
"C'est une espèce de pétrosilex gris, dur, sonore, un peu transparent, qui se débite en feuillets minces parfaitement plans et réguliers. Ces feuillets, ou plutôt ces couches, courent à 35 degrés du nord par est, en montant du coté de l'ouest sous un angle de 80 degrés. Ces couches sont coupées par des fentes qui leur sont à-peu-près perpendiculaires et qui le sont aussi à l'horizon. Cette pierre s'emploie aux mêmes usage que l'ardoise, mais elle est beaucoup plus forte et plus durable, parce qu'elle est plus dure et moins accessible aux impressions de l'eau et de l'air.
§ 1047. "Ces pétrosilex feuilletés changent peu-à-peu de nature, en admettant dans les interstices de leurs feuillets des parties de feldspath. Ils out alors l'apparence d'une roche feuilletée, quartzeuse et micacée, (quartzum fornacum W.). Mais cette apparence est trompeuse; car on n'y trouve pas un atome de quartz: toutes les parties blanches qui donnent du feu contre l'acier, font du feldspath; et les parties grise écailleuses ne font point du mica, ce sont de lames minces du pétrosilex dont j'ai déjà parlé."
Here is evidently what I would call petuntze strata, or porcelane stone, that is, strata formed by the deposits of such materials as might come from the detritus of granite, arranged at the bottom of the sea, and consolidated by heat in the mineral regions. We have precisely such stratified masses in the Pentland hills near Edinburgh. I have also a specimen of the same kind, brought from the East Indies, in which there is the print of an organized body. I believe it to be of some coralline or zoophite.
§ 1048. "Cette roche mélangée continue jusqu'à ce que le rocher s'éloigne un peu du grand chemin. Là, ce rocher se présente coupé à pic dans une grande étendue, et divisé par de grandes fentes obliques, à-peu-près parallèles entr'elles. Ces fentes partagent la montagne en grandes tranches de 50 à 60 pieds d'épaisseur, que de loin semblent être des couches. Mais lorsqu'on s'en approche, on voit, par le tissu même de la pierre feuilletée, que ses vraies couches font avec l'horizon des angles de 70 à 75 degré, et que ces grandes divisions sont de vraies fentes par lesquelles un grand nombre de couches consécutives sont coupées presque perpendiculairement à leurs plans. Les masses de rocher, comprises entre ces grandes fentes, sont encore divisées par d'autres fentes plus petites, dont la plupart sont paralleles aux grandes, d'autres leur sont obliques; mais toutes sont à très-peu-près perpendiculaires aux plans des couchés dont la montagne est composée."
Here is a distinct view of that which may be found to take place in all consolidated strata, whatever be the composition of the stratum; and it is this appearance which is here maintained to be a physical demonstration, that those strata had been consolidated by means of heat softening their materials. In that case, those stratified bodies, contracting in cooling, form veins and fissures traversing perpendicularly their planes; and these veins are afterwards filled with mineral substances. These are what I have here distinguished as the particular veins of mineral masses; things perfectly different from proper mineral or metallic veins, which are more general, as belonging to immense masses of those strata; and which had been formed, not from the contraction, but from the disrupture of those masses, and by the forcible injection of fluid mineral substances from below. Now these two species of veins, the particular and the general, although occasionally connected, must be in science carefully distinguished; in the one, we see the means which had been employed for the consolidation of the strata; in the other, we see that power by which the strata have been raised from the bottom of the sea and placed in the atmosphere.