divendres, 17 d’abril de 2015

Pure air is blue, because, according to Newton, the molecules of the air have the thickness necessary to reflect blue rays. When the sky is not perfectly pure, and the atmosphere is blended with perceptible vapours, the diffused light is mixed148 with a large proportion of white. As the moon is yellow, the blue of the air assumes somewhat of a greenish tinge, or, in other words, becomes blended with yellow.—Letter from Arago to Humboldt; Cosmos, vol. iii. BEAUTY OF TWILIGHT. This phenomenon is caused by the refraction of solar light enabling it to diffuse itself gradually over our hemisphere, obscured by the shades of night, long before the sun appears, even when that luminary is eighteen degrees below our horizon. It is towards the poles that this reflected splendour of the great luminary is longest visible, often changing the whole of the night into a magic day, of which the inhabitants of southern Europe can form no adequate conception. It has been calculated that the available coal-beds in Lancashire amount in weight to the enormous sum of 8,400,000,000 tons. The total annual consumption of this coal, it has been estimated, amounts to 3,400,120 tons; hence it is inferred that the coal-beds of Lancashire, at the present rate of consumption, will last 2470 years. Making similar calculations for the coal-fields of South Wales, the north of England, and Scotland, it will readily be perceived how ridiculous were the forebodings which lecturing geologists delighted to indulge in a few years ago.THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE OF LISBON. The eloquent Humboldt remarks, that the activity of an igneouS mountain, however terrific and picturesque the spectacle may be which it presents to our contemplation, is always limited to a very small space. It is far otherwise with earthquakes, which, although scarcely perceptible to the eye, nevertheless simultaneously propagate their waves to a distance of many thousand miles. The great earthquake which destroyed the city of Lisbon, November 1st, 1755, was felt in the Alps, on the coast of Sweden, into the Antilles, Antigua, Barbadoes, and Martinique; in the great Canadian lakes, in Thuringia, in the flat country of northern Germany, and in the small inland lakes on the shores of the Baltic. Remote springs were interrupted in their flow,—a phenomenon attending earthquakes which had been noticed among the ancients by Demetrius the Callatian. The hot springs of Töplitz dried up and returned, inundating every thing around, and having their waters coloured with iron ochre. At Cadiz, the sea rose to an elevation of sixty-four feet; while in the Antilles, where the tide usually rises only from twenty-six to twenty-eight inches, it suddenly rose about twenty feet, the water being of an inky blackness. It has been computed that, on November 1st, 1755, a portion of the earth’s surface four times greater than that of Europe was simultaneously shaken.31 As yet there is no manifestation of force known to us (says the vivid denunciation of the philosopher), including even the murderous invention of our own race, by which a greater number of people have been killed in the short space of a few minutes: 60,000 were destroyed in Sicily in 1693, from 30,000 to 40,000 in the earthquake of Riobamba in 1797, and probably five times as many in Asia Minor and Syria under Tiberius and Justinian the elder, about the years 19 and 526. GEOLOGICAL AGE OF THE DIAMOND. The discovery of Diamonds in Russia, far from the tropical zone, has excited much interest among geologists. In the detritus on the banks of the Adolfskoi, no fewer than forty diamonds have been found in the gold alluvium, only twenty feet above the stratum in which the remains of mammoths and rhinoceroses are found. Hence Humboldt has concluded that the formation of gold-veins, and consequently of diamonds, is comparatively of recent date, and scarcely anterior to the destruction of the mammoths. Sir Roderick Murchison and M. Verneuil123 have been led to the same result by SILLY AND VERY SILLY argumentsPROBABLE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL. The proposed construction of a submarine tunnel across the Straits of Dover has led M. Boué, For. Mem. Geol. Soc., to point out the probability that the English Channel has not been excavated by water-action only; but owes its origin to one of the lines of disturbance which have fissured this portion of the earth’s crust: and taking this view of the case, the fissure probably still exists, being merely filled with comparatively loose material, so as to prove a serious obstacle to any attempt made to drive through it a submarine tunnel.—Proceedings of the Geological Society. HOW BOULDERS ARE TRANSPORTED TO GREAT HEIGHTS. Sir Roderick Murchison has shown that in Russia, when the Dwina is at its maximum height, and penetrates into the chinks of its limestone banks, when frozen and expanded it causes disruptions of the rock, the entanglement of stony fragments in the ice. In remarkable spring floods, the stream so expands that in bursting it throws up its icy fragments to 15 or 20 feet above the stream; and the waters subsiding, these lateral ice-heaps melt away, and leave upon the bank the rifled and angular blocks as evidence of the highest ice-mark. In Lapland, M. Böhtlingk assures us that he has found large granitic boulders weighing several tons actually entangled and suspended, like birds’-nests, in the branches of pine-trees, at heights of 30 or 40 feet above the summer level of the stream!28 106 WHY SEA-SHELLS ARE FOUND AT GREAT HEIGHTS. The action of subterranean forces in breaking through and elevating strata of sedimentary rocks,—of which the coast of Chili, in consequence of a great earthquake, furnishes an example,—leads to the assumption that the pelagic shells found by MM. Bonpland and Humboldt on the ridge of the Andes, at an elevation of more than 15,000 English feet, may have been conveyed to so extraordinary a position, not by a rising of the ocean, but by the agency of volcanic forces capable of elevating into ridges the softened crust of the earth. SAND OF THE SEA AND DESERT. That sand is an assemblage of small stones may be seen with the eye unarmed with art; yet how few are equally aware of the synonymous nature of the sand of the sea and of the land! Quartz, in the form of sand, covers almost entirely the bottom of the sea. It is spread over the banks of rivers, and forms vast plains, even at a very considerable elevation above the level of the sea, as the desert of Sahara in Africa, of Kobi in Asia, and many others. This quartz is produced, at least in part, from the disintegration of the primitive granite rocks. The currents of water carry it along, and when it is in very small, light, and rounded grains, even the wind transports it from one place to another. The hills are thus made to move like waves, and a deluge of sand frequently inundates the neighbouring countries: “So where o’er wide Numidian wastes extend, Sudden the impetuous hurricanes descend.”—Addison’s Cato. To illustrate the trite axiom, that nothing is lost, let us glance at the most important use of sand: “Quartz in the form of sand,” observes Maltebrun, “furnishes, by fusion, one of the most useful substances we have, namely glass, which, being less hard than the crystals of quartz, can be made equally transparent, and is equally serviceable to our wants and to our pleasures. There it shines in walls of crystal in the palaces of the great, reflecting the charms of a hundred assembled beauties; there, in the hand of the philosopher, it discovers to us the worlds that revolve above us in the immensity of space, and the no less astonishing wonders that we tread beneath our feet.” PEBBLES. The various heights and situations at which Pebbles are found have led to many erroneous conclusions as to the period of changes of the earth’s surface. All the banks of rivers and lakes, and the shores of the sea, are covered with pebbles, rounded by the waves which have rolled them against each107 other, and which frequently seem to have brought them from a distance. There are also similar masses of pebbles found at very great elevations, to which the sea appears never to have been able to reach. We find them in the Alps at Valorsina, more than 6000 feet above the level of the sea; and on the mountain of Bon Homme, which is more than 1000 feet higher. There are some places little elevated above the level of the sea, which, like the famous plain of Crau, in Provence, are entirely paved with pebbles; while in Norway, near Quedlia, some mountains of considerable magnitude seem to be completely formed of them, and in such a manner that the largest pebbles occupy the summit, and their thickness and size diminish as you approach the base. We may include in the number of these confused and irregular heaps most of the depositions of matter brought by the river or sea, and left on the banks, and perhaps even those immense beds of sand which cover the centre of Asia and Africa. It is this circumstance which renders so uncertain the distinction, which it is nevertheless necessary to establish, between alluvial masses created before the commencement of history, and those which we see still forming under our own eyes. A charming monograph, entitled “Thoughts on a Pebble,” full of playful sentiment and graceful fancy, has been written by the amiable Dr. Mantell, the geologist. ELEVATION OF MOUNTAIN-CHAINS. Professor Ansted, in his Ancient World, thus characterises this phenomenon: These movements, described in a few words, were doubtless going on for many thousands and tens of thousands of revolutions of our planet. They were accompanied also by vast but slow changes of other kinds. The expansive force employed in lifting up, by mighty movements, the northern portion of the continent of Asia, found partial vent; and from partial subaqueous fissures there were poured out the tabular masses of basalt occurring in Central India; while an extensive area of depression in the Indian Ocean, marked by the coral islands of the Laccadives, the Maldives, the great Chagos bank, and some others, were in the course of depression by a counteracting movement. Hitherto the processes of denudation and of elevation have been so far balanced as to preserve a pretty steady proportion of sea and dry land during geological ages; but if the internal temperature should be so far reduced as to be no longer capable of generating forces of expansion sufficient for this elevatory action, while the denuding forces should continue to act with unabated energy, the inevitable result would be, that every mountain-top would be in time brought low. No earthly barrier could declare to the ocean that there its proud waves should be stayed. Nothing would stop its ravages till all dry108 land should be laid prostrate, to form the bed over which it would continue to roll an uninterrupted sea. THE CHALK FORMATION. Mr. Horner, F.R.S., among other things in his researches in the Delta, considers it extremely probable that every particle of Chalk in the world has at some period been circulating in the system of a living animal. WEAR OF BUILDING-STONES. Professor Henry, in an account of testing the marbles used in building the Capitol at Washington, states that every flash of lightning produces an appreciable amount of nitric acid, which, diffused in rain-water, acts on the carbonate of lime; and from specimens subjected to actual freezing, it was found that in ten thousand years one inch would be worn from the blocks by the action of frost. In 1839, a report of the examination of Sandstones, Limestones, and Oolites of Britain was made to the Government, with a view to the selection of the best material for building the new Houses of Parliament. For this purpose, 103 quarries were described, 96 buildings in England referred to, many chemical analyses of the stones were given, and a great number of experiments related, showing, among other points, the cohesive power of each stone, and the amount of disintegration apparent, when subjected to Brard’s process. The magnesian limestone, or dolomite of Bolsover Moor, was recommended, and finally adopted for the Houses; but the selection does not appear to have been so successful as might have been expected from the skill and labour of the investigation. It may be interesting to add, that the publication of the above Report (for which see Year-Book of Facts, 1840, pp. 78–80) occasioned Mr. John Mallcott to remark in the Times journal, “that all stone made use of in the immediate neighbourhood of its own quarries is more likely to endure that atmosphere than if it be removed therefrom, though only thirty or forty miles:” and the lapse of comparatively few years has proved the soundness of this observation.29 PHENOMENA OF GLACIERS ILLUSTRATED. Professor Tyndall, being desirous of investigating some of the phenomena presented by the large masses of mountain-ice,—those frozen rivers called Glaciers,—devised the plan of sending a destructive agent into the midst of a mass of ice, so as to break down its structure in the interior, in order to see if this method would reveal any thing of its internal constitution. Taking advantage of the bright weather of 1857, he concentrated a beam of sunlight by a condensing lens, so as to109 form the focus of the sun’s rays in the midst of a mass of ice. A portion of the ice was melted, but the surrounding parts shone out as brilliant stars, produced by the reflection of the faces of the crystalline structure. On examining these brilliant portions with a lens, Professor Tyndall discovered that the structure of the ice had been broken down in symmetrical forms of great beauty, presenting minute stars, surrounded by six petals, forming a beautiful flower, the plane being always parallel to the plane of congelation of the ice. He then prepared a piece of ice, by making both its surfaces smooth and parallel to each other. He concentrated in the centre of the ice the rays of heat from the electric light; and then, placing the piece of ice in the electric microscope, the disc revealed these beautiful ice-flowers. A mass of ice was crushed into fragments; the small fragments were then placed in a cup of wood; a hollow wooden die, somewhat smaller than the cup, was then pressed into the cup of ice-fragments by the pressure of a hydraulic press, and the ice-fragments were immediately united into a compact cup of nearly transparent ice. This pressure of fragments of ice into a solid mass explains the formation of the glaciers and their origin. They are composed of particles of ice or snow; as they descend the sides of the mountain, the pressure of the snow becomes sufficiently great to compress the mass into solid ice, until it becomes so great as to form the beautiful blue ice of the glaciers. This compression, however, will not form the solid mass unless the temperature of the ice be near that of freezing water. To prove this, the lecturer cooled a mass of ice, by wrapping it in a piece of tinfoil and exposing it for some time to a bath of the ethereal solution of solidified carbonic-acid gas, the coldest freezing mixture known. This cooled mass of ice was crushed to fragments, and submitted to the same pressure which the other fragments had been exposed to without cohering in the slightest degree.—Lecture at the Royal Institution, 1858. ANTIQUITY OF GLACIERS. The importance of glacier agency in the past as well as the present condition of the earth, is undoubtedly very great. One of our most accomplished and ingenious geologists has, indeed, carried back the existence of Glaciers to an epoch of dim antiquity, even in the reckoning of that science whose chronology is counted in millions of years. Professor Ramsay has shown ground for believing that in the fragments of rock that go to make up the conglomerates of the Permian strata, intermediate between the Old and the New Red Sandstone, there is still preserved a record of the action of ice, either in110 glaciers or floating icebergs, before those strata were consolidated.—Saturday Review, No. 142. FLOW OF THE MER DE GLACE. Michel Devouasson of Chamouni fell into a crevasse on the Glacier of Talefre, a feeder of the Mer de Glace, on the 29th of July 1836, and after a severe struggle extricated himself, leaving his knapsack below. The identical knapsack reappeared in July 1846, at a spot on the surface of the glacier four thousand three hundred feet from the place where it was lost, as ascertained by Professor Forbes, who himself collected the fragments; thus indicating the rate of flow of the icy river in the intervening ten years.—Quarterly Review, No. 202.


In 1795, there was stated to have been discovered in the stone quarries adjoining Maestricht the remains of the gigantic Mosœsaurus (Saurian of the Meuse), an aquatic reptile about twenty-five feet long, holding an intermediate place between the Monitors and Iguanas. It appears to have had webbed feet, and a tail of such construction as to have served for a powerful oar, and enabled the animal to stem the waves of the ocean, of which Cuvier supposed it to have been an inhabitant. It is thus referred to by Dr. Mantell, in his Medals of Creation: “A specimen, with the jaws and bones of the palate, now in the Museum at Paris, has long been celebrated; and is still the most precious relic of this extinct reptile hitherto discovered.” An admirable cast of this specimen is preserved in the British Museum, in a case near the bones of the Iguanodon. This is, however, useless, as Cuvier is proved to have been imposed upon in the matter.

M. Schlegel has reported to the French Academy of Sciences, that he has ascertained beyond all doubt that the famous fossil saurian of the quarries of Maestricht, described as a wonderful curiosity by Cuvier, is nothing more than an impudent fraud. Some bold impostor, it seems, in order to make money, placed a quantity of bones in the quarries in such a way as to give them the appearance of having been recently dug up, and then passed them off as specimens of antediluvian creation.






Great Britain is almost exactly under the same latitude as Labrador, a region of ice and snow. Apparently, the chief cause of the remarkable difference between the two climates arises from the action of the great oceanic Gulf-Stream, whereby this country is kept constantly encircled with waters warmed by a West-Indian sun.

Were it not for this unceasing current from tropical seas, London, instead of its present moderate average winter temperature of 6° above the freezing-point, might for many months annually be ice-bound by a settled cold of 10° to 30° below that point, and have its pleasant summer months replaced by a season so short as not to allow corn to ripen, or only an alpine vegetation to flourish.
Nor are we without evidence afforded by animal life of a greater cold having prevailed in this country at a late geological period. One case in particular occurs within eighty miles of London, at the village of Chillesford, near Woodbridge, where, in a bed of clayey sand of an age but little (geologically speaking) anterior to the London gravel, Mr. Prestwich has found a group of fossil shells in greater part identical with species now living in the seas of Greenland and of similar latitudes, and which must evidently, from their perfect condition and natural position, have existed in the place where they are now met with.—Lectures on the Geology of Clapham, &c. by Joseph Prestwich, A.R.S., F.G.S.


Forchhammer, after a long series of experiments, has come to the conclusion that Common Salt at high temperatures, such as prevailed at earlier periods of the earth’s history, acted as a general solvent, similarly to water at common temperatures. The amount of common salt in the earth would suffice to cover its whole surface with a crust ten feet in thickness.


This famous Cavern, at Ithetz Kaya-Zastchita, in the Steppes116 of the Kirghis, is employed by the inhabitants as a cellar. It has the very remarkable property of being so intensely cold during the hottest summers as to be then filled with ice, which disappearing with cold weather, is entirely gone in winter, when all the country is clad in snow. The roof is hung with ever-dripping solid icicles, and the floor may be called a stalagmite of ice and frozen earth. “If,” says Sir R. Murchison, “as we were assured, the cold is greatest when the external air is hottest and driest, that the fall of rain and a moist atmosphere produce some diminution of the cold in the cave, and that upon the setting-in of winter the ice disappears entirely,—then indeed the problem is very curious.” The peasants assert that in winter they could sleep in the cave without their sheepskins.


By the observed temperature of mines, and that at the bottom of artesian wells, it has been established that the rate at which such temperature increases as we descend varies considerably in different localities, where the depths are comparatively small; but where the depths are great, we find a much nearer approximation to a common rate of increase, which, as determined by the best observation in the deepest mines, shafts, and artesian wells in Western Europe, is very nearly 1° F. for an increase in depth of fifty feet.—W. Hopkins, M.A., F.R.S.
Humboldt states that, according to tolerably coincident experiments in artesian wells, it has been shown that the heat increases on an average about 1° for every 54·5 feet. If this increase can be reduced to arithmetical relations, it will follow that a stratum of granite would be in a state of fusion at a depth of nearly twenty-one geographical miles, or between four and five times the elevation of the highest summit of the Himalaya.
The following is the opinion of Professor Silliman:

That the whole interior portion of the earth, or at least a great part of it, is an ocean of melted rock, agitated by violent winds, though I dare not affirm it, is still rendered highly probable by the phenomena of volcanoes. The facts connected with their eruption have been ascertained and placed beyond a doubt. How, then, are they to be accounted for? The theory prevalent some years since, that they are caused by the combustion of immense coal-beds, is puerile and now entirely abandoned. All the coal in the world could not afford fuel enough for one of the tremendous eruptions of Vesuvius.
This observed increase of temperature in descending beneath the earth’s surface suggested the notion of a central incandescent nucleus still remaining in a state of fluidity from its elevated temperature. Hence the theory that the whole mass of the earth was formerly a molten fluid mass, the exterior portion of which, to some unknown depth, has assumed117 its present solidity by the radiation of heat into surrounding space, and its consequent refrigeration.
The mathematical solution of this problem of Central Heat, assuming such heat to exist, tells us that though the central portion of the earth may consist of a mass of molten matter, the temperature of its surface is not thereby increased by more than the small fraction of a degree. Poisson has calculated that it would require a thousand millions of centuries to reduce this fraction to a degree by half its present amount, supposing always the external conditions to remain unaltered. In such cases, the superficial temperature of the earth may, in fact, be considered to have approximated so near to its ultimate limit that it can be subject to no further sensible change.


Many of the Volcanic Islands thrown up above the sea-level soon disappear, because the lavas and conglomerates of which they are formed spread over flatter surfaces, through the weight of the incumbent fluid; and the constant levelling process goes on below the sea by the action of tides and currents. Such islands as have effectually resisted this action are found to possess a solid framework of lava, supporting or defending the loose fragmentary materials.

Among the most celebrated of these phenomena in our times may be mentioned the Isle of Sabrina, which rose off the coast of St. Michael’s in 1811, attained a circumference of one mile and a height of 300 feet, and disappeared in less than eight months; in the following year there were eighty fathoms of water in its place. In July 1831 appeared Graham’s Island off the coast of Sicily, which attained a mile in circumference and 150 or 160 feet in height; its formation much resembled that of Sabrina.
The line of ancient subterranean fire which we trace on the Mediterranean coasts has had a strange attestation in Graham’s Island, which is also described as a volcano suddenly bursting forth in the mid sea between Sicily and Africa; burning for several weeks, and throwing up an isle, or crater-cone of scoriæ and ashes, which had scarcely been named before it was again lost by subsidence beneath the sea, leaving only a shoal-bank to attest this strange submarine breach in the earth’s crust, which thus mingled fire and water in one common action.
Floating islands are not very rare: in 1827, one was seen twenty leagues to the east of the Azores; it was three leagues in width, and covered with volcanic products, sugar-canes, straw, and pieces of wood.


Not far from the Deliktash, on the side of a mountain in Lycia, is the Perpetual Fire described some forty years since118 by Captain Beaufort. It was found by Lieutenant Spratt and Professor Forbes, thirty years later, as brilliant as ever, and somewhat increased; for besides the large flame in the corner of the ruins described by Beaufort, there were small jets issuing from crevices in the side of the crater-like cavity five or six feet deep. At the bottom was a shallow pool of sulphureous and turbid water, regarded by the Turks as a sovereign remedy for all skin complaints. The soot deposited from the flames was held to be efficacious for sore eyelids, and valued as a dye for the eyebrows. This phenomenon is described by Pliny as the flame of the Lycian Chimera.


According to the statement of the missionary Imbert, the Fire-Springs, “Ho-tsing” of the Chinese, which are sunk to obtain a carburetted-hydrogen gas for salt-boiling, far exceed our artesian springs in depth. These springs are very commonly more than 2000 feet deep; and a spring of continued flow was found to be 3197 feet deep. This natural gas has been used in the Chinese province Tse-tschuan for several thousand years; and “portable gas” (in bamboo-canes) has for ages been used in the city of Khiung-tscheu. More recently, in the village of Fredonia, in the United States, such gas has been used both for cooking and for illumination.


Mr. James Nasmyth observes, that “the floods of molten lava which volcanoes eject are nothing less than remaining portions of what was once the condition of the entire globe when in the igneous state of its early physical history,—no one knows how many years ago!
“When we behold the glow and feel the heat of molten lava, how vastly does it add to the interest of the sight when we consider that the heat we feel and the light we see are the residue of the once universal condition of our entire globe, on whose cooled surface we now live and have our being! But so it is; for if there be one great fact which geological research has established beyond all doubt, it is that we reside on the cooled surface of what was once a molten globe, and that all the phenomena which geology has brought to light can be most satisfactorily traced to the successive changes incidental to its gradual cooling and contraction.
“That the influx of the sea into the yet hot and molten interior of the globe may occasionally occur, and enhance and vary the violence of the phenomenon of volcanic action, there can be little doubt; but the action of water in such cases is only secondary. But for the pre-existing high temperature of the interior of the earth, the influx of water would produce no such discharges of molten lava as generally characterise volcanic eruptions. Molten lava is therefore a true vestige of the Natural History of the Creation.”


It is but rarely that the elastic forces at work within the interior of our globe have succeeded in breaking through the spiral domes which, resplendent in the brightness of eternal snow, crown the summits of the Cordilleras; and even where these subterranean forces have opened a permanent communication with the atmosphere, through circular craters or long fissures, they rarely send forth currents of lava, but merely eject ignited scoriæ, steam, sulphuretted hydrogen gas, and jets of carbonic acid.—Humboldt’s Cosmos, vol. i.


On the 2d of September 1845, a quantity of Volcanic Dust fell in the Orkney Islands, which was supposed to have originated in an eruption of Hecla, in Iceland. It was subsequently ascertained that an eruption of that volcano took place on the morning of the above day (September 2), so as to leave no doubt of the accuracy of the conclusion. The dust had thus travelled about 600 miles!


In the great eruption of Vesuvius, in August 1779, which Sir William Hamilton witnessed from his villa at Pausilippo in the bay of Naples, the volcano sent up white sulphureous smoke resembling bales of cotton, exceeding the height and size of the mountain itself at least four times; and in the midst of this vast pile of smoke, stones, scoriæ, and ashes were thrown up not less than 2000 feet. Next day a fountain of fire shot up with such height and brilliancy that the smallest objects could be clearly distinguished at any place within six miles or more of Vesuvius. But on the following day a more stupendous column of fire rose three times the height of Vesuvius (3700 feet), or more than two miles high. Among the huge fragments of lava thrown out during this eruption was a block 108 feet in circumference and 17 feet high, another block 66 feet in circumference and 19 feet high, and another 16 feet high and 92 feet in circumference, besides thousands of smaller fragments. Sir William Hamilton suggests that from a scene of the above kind the ancient poets took their ideas of the giants waging war with Jupiter.
The eruption of June 1794, which destroyed the greater part of the town of Torre del Greco, was, however, the most violent that has been recorded after the two great eruptions of 79 and 1631.


The waves of an earthquake have been represented in their120 progress, and their propagation, through rocks of different density and elasticity; and the causes of the rapidity of propagation, and its diminution by the refraction, reflection, and interference of the oscillations have been mathematically investigated. Air, water, and earth waves follow the same laws which are recognised by the theory of motion, at all events in space; but the earth-waves are accompanied in their destructive action by discharges of elastic vapours, and of gases, and mixtures of pyroxene crystals, carbon, and infusorial animalcules with silicious shields. The more terrific effects are, however, when the earth-waves are accompanied by cleavage; and, as in the earthquake of Riobamba, when fissures alternately opened and closed again, so that men saved themselves by extending both arms, in order to prevent their sinking.
As a remarkable example of the closing of a fissure, Humboldt mentions that, during the celebrated earthquake in 1851, in the Neapolitan province of Basilicata, a hen was found caught by both feet in the street-pavement of Barile, near Melfi.
Mr. Hopkins has very correctly shown theoretically that the fissures produced by earthquakes are very instructive as regards the formation of veins and the phenomenon of dislocation, the more recent vein displacing the older formation.


When the great earthquake of Coseguina, in Nicaragua, took place, January 23, 1835, the subterranean noise—the sonorous waves in the earth—was heard at the same time on the island of Jamaica and on the plateau of Bogota, 8740 feet above the sea, at a greater distance than from Algiers to London. In the eruptions of the volcano on the island of St. Vincent, April 30, 1812, at 2 A.M., a noise like the report of cannons was heard, without any sensible concussion of the earth, over a space of 160,000 geographical square miles. There have also been heard subterranean thunderings for two years without earthquakes.


A new instrument (the Seismometer) invented for this purpose by M. Kreil, of Vienna, consists of a pendulum oscillating in every direction, but unable to turn round on its point of suspension; and bearing at its extremity a cylinder, which, by means of mechanism within it, turns on its vertical axis once in twenty-four hours. Next to the pendulum stands a rod bearing a narrow elastic arm, which slightly presses the extremity of a lead-pencil against the surface of the cylinder. As long as the pendulum is quiet, the pencil traces an uninterrupted line121 on the surface of the cylinder; but as soon as it oscillates, this line becomes interrupted and irregular, and these irregularities indicate the time of the commencement of an earthquake, together with its duration and intensity.30
Elastic fluids are doubtless the cause of the slight and perfectly harmless trembling of the earth’s surface, which has often continued for several days. The focus of this destructive agent, the seat of the moving force, lies far below the earth’s surface; but we know as little of the extent of this depth as we know of the chemical nature of these vapours that are so highly compressed. At the edges of two craters,—Vesuvius and the towering rock which projects beyond the great abyss of Pichincha, near Quito,—Humboldt has felt periodic and very regular shocks of earthquakes, on each occasion from twenty to thirty seconds before the burning scoriæ or gases were erupted. The intensity of the shocks was increased in proportion to the time intervening between them, and consequently to the length of time in which the vapours were accumulating. This simple fact, which has been attested by the evidence of so many travellers, furnishes us with a general solution of the phenomenon, in showing that active volcanoes are to be considered as safety-valves for the immediate neighbourhood. There are instances in which the earth has been shaken for many successive days in the chain of the Andes, in South America. In certain districts, the inhabitants take no more notice of the number of earthquakes than we in Europe take of showers of rain; yet in such a district Bonpland and Humboldt were compelled to dismount, from the restiveness of their mules, because the earth shook in a forest for fifteen to eighteen minutes without intermission.


From a careful discussion of several thousand earthquakes which have been recorded between 1801 and 1850, and a comparison of the periods at which they occurred with the position of the moon in relation to the earth, M. Perry, of Dijon, infers that earthquakes may possibly be the result of attraction exerted by that body on the supposed fluid centre of our globe, somewhat similar to that which she exercises on the waters of the ocean; and the Committee of the Institute of France have reported favourably upon this theory.

1 comentari:

  1. suggests that this unusual jet stream pattern was driven, at least in part, by a particular configuration of sea surface temperatures over the tropical Pacific known as the North Pacific Mode, or NPM. The NPM pattern consists of above-average sea surface temperatures in the western Tropical Pacific that extend north and east towards the California coast and across the far northern Pacific Ocean. While the better-known El-Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) pattern has been in a neutral state for the past few winters, the NPM has been in an extreme positive state since the summer of 2013. The pattern of air temperatures seen this past winter has persisted through March; note the unusually warm conditions over northern Eurasia17 d’abril de 2015 a les 15:24