Charles Lyell.

Principles of geology; being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryCharles LyellPrinciples of geology; being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 53)
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' Amid all the revolutions of the globe the economy of Nature has been uniform, and her

laws are the only things that have resisted the general movement. The rivers and the rocks,

the seas and the continents have been changed in all their parts ; but the laws which direct

those changes, and the rules to which they are subject, have remained invariably the same.*

PJ.AYFAIR, Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory, $374.








Stamford Street.





8fc. Sfc. Sfe.


The favourable reception of the first edition encourages
me to offer the dedication of this volume to you, who first
instructed me in the elements of Geology, and by whose
energy and talents the cultivation of the science in this country
has been so eminently promoted.

I am,

My dear Dr. BUCKLAND,
Very sincerely yours,


London, June 10, 1832.




I HAVE availed myself of the present opportunity to make
occasional corrections and additions throughout the work.
The additions, however, are not considerable, the increased
size of the volume being chiefly due to the adoption of a more
open type, and the insertion of headings to the different sub-
divisions of each chapter, which it is hoped will facilitate
reference, and render the arrangement of the subject-matter
more clear to the student.




GEOLOGY defined Compared to History Its relation to other Physical
Sciences Its distinctness from all Not to be confounded with Cosmogony 1


Oriental Cosmogony Doctrine of the successive destruction and renovation
of the world Origin of this doctrine Common to the Egyptians Adopted
by the Greeks System of Pythagoras Of Aristotle Dogmas concerning
the extinction and reproduction of genera and species Strabo's theory of
elevation by earthquakes Pliny Concluding Remarks on the knowledge of
the Ancients . . . . 6


Arabian writers of the tenth century Persecution of Omar Cosmogony
of the Koran Early Italian writers Fracastoro Controversy as to the real
nature of organized fossils Fossil shells attributed to the Mosaic deluge
Palissy Steno Scilla Quirini Boyle Plot Hooke's Theory of Eleva-
tion by earthquakes His speculations on lost species of animals Ray
Physico-theological writers Woodward's Diluvial Theory Burnet Whis-
ton Hutchinson Leibnitz Vallisneri Lazzaro Moro Generelli Buffon
His theory condemned by the Sorbonne as unorthodox Buffon's declara-
tion Targioni Arduino Michell Catcott Raspe Fortis Testa
Whitehurst Pallas Saussure . . . . . .24


Werner's application of Geology to _the art of Mining Excursive charac-
ter'of his Lectures Enthusiasm of his pupils His" authority His theoreti-
cal errors Desmarest's Map and Description of Auvergne Controversy
between the Vulcanists and Neptunists Intemperance of the rival Sects
Button's Theory of the Earth His discovery of Granite. Veins Originality
of his Views Why opposed Playfair's Illustrations Influence of Vol-
taire's Writings on Geology Imputations cast on the Huttonians by Wil-
liams, Kirwan, and De Luc Smith's Map of England Geological Society



of London Progress of the science in France Growing importance of the
study of organic remains . . . . .63


Review of the causes which have retarded the progress of Geology
Effects of prepossessions in regard to the duration of past time Of preju-
dices arising from our peculiar position as inhabitants of the land Of those
occasioned by our not seeing subterranean changes now in progress All
these causes combine to make the former course of Nature appear different
from the present Several objections to the assumption, that existing causes
have produced the former changes of the earth's surface, removed by modern
discoveries . . . . . . . .85


Further examination of the question as to the discordance of the ancient
and modern causes of change Proofs that the climate of the Northern
hemisphere was formerly hotter Direct proofs from the organic remains of
the Sicilian and Italian strata Proofs from analogy derived from extinct
Quadrupeds Imbedding of Animals in Icebergs Siberian Mammoths
Evidence in regard to temperature, from the fossil remains of tertiary and
secondary rocks From the Plants of the Coal formation . . .105


Further examination of the question as to the discordance of the ancient
and modern causes of change On the causes of vicissitudes in climate Re-
marks on the present diffusion of heat over, the globe On the dependence
of the mean temperature on the relative position of land and sea Isother-
mal lines Currents from equatorial regions Drifting of icebergs Different
temperature of Northern and Southern hemispheres Combination of causes
which might produce the extreme cold of which the earth's surface is sus-
ceptible On the conditions necessary for the production of the extreme of
heat, and its probable effects on organic life. . . . 120


Further examination of the question as to the discordance of the ancient
and modern causes of change That the geographical features of the
northern hemisphere, at the period of the deposition of the carboniferous
strata, were such as might, according to the theory before explained, have
given rise to an extremely hot climate State of the surface when the tran-
sition and mountain limestones, coal-sandstones, and coal originated
Change in the physical geography of northern latitudes, between the era
of the formation of the carboniferous series and the lias Character of
organic remains, from the lias to the chalk inclusive State of the surface



when these deposits originated Great accession of land, and elevation of
mountain-chains, between the consolidation of the newer secondary and older
tertiary rocks Consequent refrigeration of climate Abrupt transition from
the organic remains of the secondary to those of the tertiary strata Maes-
tricht beds Remarks on the theory of the diminution of central heat. . 144


Further discussion of the question as to the discordance of the ancient and
modern causes of change Theory of the progressive development of organic
life Evidence in its support wholly inconclusive Vertebrated animals in
the oldest strata Differences between the organic remains of successive
formations Remarks on the comparatively modern origin of the human
race The popular doctrine of successive development not confirmed by the
admission that man is of modern origin Introduction of man, to what ex-
tent a change in the system .


Division of the subject into changes of the organic and inorganic world
Inorganic causes of change divided into the aqueous and igneous Aqueous
causes Destroying and transposing power of running water Sinuosities
of rivers Two streams when united do not occupy a bed of double surface
Heavy matter removed by torrents and floods Recent inundations in
Scotland Effects of ice in removing stones Erosion of chasms through
hard rocks Excavations in the lavas of Etna by Sicilian rivers Gorge of
the Simeto Gradual recession of the cataracts of Niagara Speculations
as to the time required for their reaching Lake Erie. . .192


Action of running water, continued Course of the Po Desertion of its
old channel Artificial embankments of the Po, Adige, and other Italian
rivers Basin of the Mississippi Its meanders Islands Shifting of its
course Raft of the Atchafalaya Drift wood New-formed lakes in Loui-
siana Earthquakes in the valley of the Mississippi Floods caused by land-
slips in the White mountains Bursting of a lake in Switzerland Devasta-
tions caused by the Anio at Tivoli. . . . . 210


Difference between the transporting power of springs and rivers Many
springs carry matter from below upwards Mineral ingredients most abun-
dant in springs Connexion of mineral waters with volcanic phenomena
Calcareous springs Travertin of the Elsa Baths of San Vignone and of
San Filippo, near Radicofani Spheroidal structure in travertin, as in Eng-
lish maguesian limestone Bulicami of Viterbo Lake of the Solfatara,



near Rome Travertin at Cascade of Tivoli Ferruginous Springs Cement-
ing and colouring property of iron Brine Springs Carbonated Springs
Disintegration of Auvergne granite Caverns in limestone Petroleum
Springs Pitch Lake of Trinidad ..... 227


Reproductive effects of running water Division of Deltas into lacustrine,
mediterranean, and oceanic Lake deltas Growth of the delta of the Rhone
in the Lake of Geneva Chronological computations of the age of deltas
Recent deposits in Lake Superior Deltas of inland seas Rapid shallowing
of the Baltic Arguments for and against the hypothesis of Celsius Elevated
beaches on the coast of Sweden Marine delta of the Rhone Various proofs
of its increase Stony nature of its deposits Delta of the Po, Adige, Isonzo,
and other rivers entering the Adriatic Rapid conversion of that gulf into
laud Mineral characters of the new deposits Delta of the Nile Its increase
since the time of Homer Its growth why checked at present. . . 252


Oceanic deltas Delta of the Ganges and Burrampooter Its size, rate of
advance, and nature of its deposits Formation and destruction of islands
Abundance of crocodiles Inundations Delta of the Mississippi Deposits
of drift wood Gradual filling up of the Yellow Sea Rennell's estimate of
the mud carried down by the Ganges Formation of valleys illustrated by
the growth of deltas Grouping of new strata in general Convergence of
deltas Conglomerates Various causes of stratification Direction of laminse
Remarks on the interchange of land and sea. .... 275


Destroying and transporting effects of tides and cxirrents Shifting of their
position Differences in the rise of the tides Velocity of currents Causes of
currents Action of the sea on the British coast Shetland Islands Large
blocks removed Effects of lightning Breach caused in a mass of porphyry
Isles reduced to clusters of rocks Orkney Isles East coast of Scotland
Stones thrown up on the Bell Rock East coast of England Waste of the
cliffs of Holderness, Norfolk, and Suffolk Silting up of estuaries Origin of

submarine forests Yarmouth estuary Submarine forests Suffolk coast

Duuwich Essex coast Estuary of the Thames Goodwin sands Coast of
Kent Formation of Straits of Dover South coast of England Coast of
Sussex Coast of Hants Coast of Dorset Portland Origin of the Chesil
Bank Cornwall Lionnesse tradition Coast of Brittany. . . 293



Action of Tides and Currents, continued Inroads of the sea upon the delta
of the Rhine in Holland Changes in the arms of the Rhine Estuary of the
Bies Bosch, formed in 1421 Formation of the Zuyder Zee, in the 13th
century Islands destroyed Delta of the Ems converted into a Bay
Estuary of the Dollart formed Encroachment of the sea on the coast of
Sleswick Inroads on the Eastern shores of North America Tidal wave
called the Bore Influence of tides and currents on the mean level of seas
Action of currents in inland lakes and seas Baltic Cimbrian deluge-
Straits of Gibraltar Under-currents Shores of Mediterranean Rocks
transported on floating icebergs Dunes of blown sand Sands of the Libyan
Desert De Luc's natural chronometers. . ... 326


Reproductive effects of Tides and Currents Silting'up of Estuaries does not
compensate the loss of land on the borders of the ocean Bed of the German
Ocean Composition and extent of its sand-banks Strata deposited by cur-
rents on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Transporta-
tion by currents of the sediment of the Amazon, Orinoco, and Mississippi
Stratification Concluding remarks. ..... 346


Changes of the inorganic world, continued Igneous causes Division of
igneous agents into the vulcano and the earthquake Distinct regions of sub-
terranean disturbance Region of the Andes System of volcanos extending
from the Aleutian isles to the Moluccas Polynesian archipelago Volcanic
region extending from the Caspian Sea to the Azores Former connexion of
the Caspian with Lake Aral and the Sea of Azof Low steppes skirting these
seas Tradition of deluges on the shores of the Bosphorus, Hellespont, and
the Grecian archipelago Periodical alternation of earthquakes in Syria and
Southern Italy Western limits of the European region Earthquakes rarer
and more feeble in proportion as we recede from the centres of volcanic action
Extinct volcanos not to be included in lines of active vents. . 353


History of the volcanic eruptions in the district round Naples Early con-
vulsions in the island of Ischia Numerous cones thrown up there Epomeo

not an habitual volcano Lake Avernus The Solfatara Renewal of the
eruptions of Vesuvius A.D. 79 Pliny's description of the phenomena Re-
marks on his silence respecting the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii
Subsequent history of Vesuvius Lava discharged in Ischia in 1302
Pause in the eruptions of Vesuvius Monte Nuovo thrown up Uniformity
of the volcanic operations of Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields in ancient
and modern times. .... 375




Volcanic district of Naples, continued Dimensions and structure of the
cone of Vesuvius Dikes iu the recent cone, how formed Section through Ve-
suvius and Sorama Vesuvian lavas and minerals Effects of decomposition
on lavas Alluvions called ( aqueous lavas' Origin and composition of the
matter enveloping Herculaneum and Pompeii Controversies on the subject
Condition and contents of the buried cities Proofs of their having suffered
by an earthquake Small number of skeletons State of preservation of ani-
mal and vegetable substances Rolls of Papyrus Probability of future dis-
coveries of MSS. Stabiae Torre del Greco Concluding remarks on the
destroying and renovating agency of the Campanian volcanos. . 390


External physiognomy of Etna Minor cones produced by lateral eruptions
Successive obliteration of these cones Early eruptions of Etna Monti
Rossi thrown up in 1669 Great fissure of S. Lio Towns overflowed by lava
Part of Catania destroyed Mode of the advance of a current of lava Ex-
cavation of a church under lava Series of subterranean caverns Linear
direction of cones formed in 1811 and 1819 Flood produced in 1755 by the
melting of snow during an eruption A glacier covered by a lava-stream on
Etna Volcanic eruptions in Iceland New island thrown up iu 1783 Two
lava currents of Skaptur Jokul in the same year Their immense volume
Eruption of Jorullo in Mexico Humboldt's Theory respecting the convexity
of the Plain of Malpais. . . . . . . 414


Volcanic archipelagos The Canaries Eruptions of the Peak of TenerifFe
Cones thrown up iu Lancerote iu 1730-36 Pretended distinction between
ancient and modern lavas Recent formation of oolitic travertin in Lancerote
Grecian Archipelago Santoriu and its contiguous isles New islands
thrown up in the Gulf of Santorin Von Btich's Theory of ' Elevation Craters'
considered Supposed ' Crater of Elevation' in the Isle of Palma Descrip-
tion of the Caldera of Palma Barren island in the Bay of Bengal Origin of
the deep gorge on the side of ' Elevation Craters' Stratification of submarine
volcanic products Causes of the great size of the craters of submarine vol-
canos Cone of Somma formed in the same manner as that of Vesuvius
Mineral composition of volcanic products Speculations respecting the nature
of igneous rocks produced at great depths by modern volcanic eruptions. 435


Earthquakes and their effects Deficiency of ancient accounts Ordinary
atmospheric phenomena Changes produced by earthquakes in modern times
considered in chronological order Earthquake in Murcia, 1829 Island of



Ischia in 1828 Bogota in 1827 Chili in 1822 Great extent of country
elevated Aleppo in 1822 Ionian Isles in 1820 Island of Surabawa in 1815
Town of Tomboro submerged Earthquake of Cutch in 1819 Subsidence
of the delta of the Indus Earthquake of Caraccas in 1812 South Carolina
in 1 811 Geographical changes in the valley of the Mississippi Volcanic con-
vulsions in the Aleutian Islands in 1806 Reflections on the earthquakes of
the nineteenth century Earthquake in Quito, 1797 Cumana, 1797 Ca-
raccas, 1790 Sicily, 1790 Java, 1786 Sinking down of large tracts . 457


Earthquake in Calabria, February 5th, 1783 Shocks continued to the end
of the year 1786 Authorities Extent of the area convulsed Geological
structure of the district Difficulty of ascertaining changes of relative level
even on the sea-coast Subsidence of the quay at Messina Shift or fault in
the Round Tower of Terranuova Movement in the stones of two obelisks
Alternate opening and closing of fissures Cause of this phenomenon Large
edifices engulphed Dimensions of new caverns and fissures Gradual closing
in of rents Bounding of detached masses into the air Landslips Build-
ings transported entire to great distances Formation of fifty new lakes
Currents of mud Small funnel-shaped hollows in alluvial plains Fall of
cliffs along the sea-coast Shore near Scilla inundated State of Stromboli
and Etna during the shocks Illustration afforded by this earthquake of the
mode in which valleys are formed . . . 475


Earthquakes of the eighteenth century, continued Guatimala, 1777
Java, 1772 Truncation of a lofty cone Caucasus, 1772 Java, 1771 St.
Domingo, 1770 Colombia, 1766 Chili, 1760 Azores, 1757 Lisbon, 1755
Sinking down of the quay to the depth of six hundred feet Shocks felt
throughout Europe, Northern Africa, and the West Indies Great wave
Shocks felt at sea St. Domingo, 1751 Conception Bay, 1750 Permanent
elevation of the bed of the sea to the height of twenty-four feet Peru,
1746 Kamtschatka, 1737 Martinique, 1727 Iceland, 1725 Teneriffe,
1706 Java, 1699 Landslips obstruct the Batavian and Tangarau rivers
Quito, 1698 Sicily, 1693 Subsidence of land Moluccas, 1693 Jamaica,
1692 Large tracts engulphed Portion of Port Royal sunk from twenty
to fifty feet under water The Blue Mountains shattered Reflections on the
amount of change in the last one hundred and forty years Proofs of ele-
vation and subsidence of land on the coast of the Bay of Baiae Evidence
of the same afforded by the present state of the Temple of Serapis . .502




Magnitude of the subterranean changes produced by earthquakes at great
depths below the surface Obscurity of geological phenomena no proof of
want of uniformity in the system, because subterranean processes are but little
understood Reasons for presuming the earthquake and volcano to have a
common origin Probable analogy between the agency of steam in the
Icelandic geysers, and in volcanos during eruptions Effects of hydrostatic
pressure of high columns of lava Of the condensation of vapours in the
interior of the earth That some earthquakes may be abortive eruptions
Why all volcanos are in islands or maritime tracts Gases evolved from
volcanos Regular discharge of heat and of gaseous and earthy matter from
the subterranean regions Cause of the wave-like motion and of the retreat of
the sea during earthquakes Difference of circumstances of heat and pressure
at great depths Inferences from the superficial changes brought about by
earthquakes In what manner the repair of land destroyed by aqueous causes
takes place Proofs that the sinking in of the earth's crust somewhat exceeds
the forcing out by earthquakes Geological consequences of this hypothesis,
that there is no ground for presuming that the degree of force exerted by sub-
terranean movements in a given time has diminished Concluding remarks . 551





Frontispiece. This representation of the present state of the Temple of Serapis
has been carefully reduced from that given by the Canonico Andrea de
Jorio in his ' Ricerche sul Tempio di Serapide, in Puzzuoli.' Napoli, 1820.

Plate I. Jig. 1. Showing that a chain of volcanic vents surrounds the Asiatic
Islands, in the same manner as a continuation of the same line skirts the
eastern borders of the continent of Asia. This plate is copied from
plate 13 of Von Buch's Phys. Besch. der Canarischen Inseln. Berlin,
1825. The position, however, of some of the volcanos, and the outline of
several of the islands, has been corrected.

Fig. 2. Showing the direction of the trachytic islands from N.W. to
S.E. parallel to the principal mountain-chains of Greece, as also to the
Grecian islands which constitute a continuation of the mountains of the
main land, and are of the same mineral composition. This plate is also
copied from Von Buch, plate 12, p. 365.

Plate II. fig. 1. -View of the islands of Ischia and Procida, with part of the
coast of Misenum, taken from part of plate 17 of Sir William Hamilton's
Campi Phlegrsei.

Fig. 2. Map of the Volcanic district of Naples. This map is copied
from one constructed by G. P. Scrope, Esq., to illustrate a memoir in the
Geol. Trans., vol. ii. part iii., from unpublished maps of Captain Smyth,
R.N., p. 375,



1. Transverse section of the Italian peninsula . . . 156

2. Diagram explanatory of the sinuosity of river-courses . . 196

3. Diagram showing the recent excavation of lava at the foot of Etna by

the river Simeto ...... 205

4. Section of travertin of San Vignone .... 232



5. Section of spheroidal concretionary travertin seen in descending from

the Temple of Vesta, under the Cascade of Tivoli . . 240

C. Section on the banks of the Arve at its confluence with the Rhone,

showing the stratification of deposits where currents meet . 291

7. Cut representing stony fragments drifted by the sea at Northmavine,

Shetland ....... 298

8. View of the ' Grind of the Navir,' a passage forced by the sea through

rocks of hard porphyry in the Shetland Isles . . . 300

9. Granitic rocks named the Drongs, between Papa Stour and Hillswick

Ness, Shetland ...... 301

10. Drongs to the south of Hillswick Ness, Shetland . 301

11. View of Monte Nuovo, formed in the Bay of Baise, September 29th,

1538 ....... 385

12. View of the volcanos of the Phlegrsean Fields . . . 38G

13. Diagram exhibiting a supposed section of Vesuvius and Somma 394

14. View of Monti Rossi on the flanks of Etna, formed in 1669 . 418

15. Chart and section of Santorin and the contiguous islands in the Grecian

Archipelago . . . . . . 441

16. View of the Isle of Palma, and of the Caldera in its centre . 444
17- View of the cone arid crater of Barren Island in the Bay of Bengal 446

18. Supposed section of the same .... 450

19. Deep fissure nearPolistenain Calabria caused by the earthquake of 1783 480

20. Shift or fault in the round tower of Terranuova in Calabria occasioned

by the earthquake of 1783 . . . . 481

21 . Horizontal shift in the stones of two obelisks in the Convent of S. Bruno 482

22. Fissures near Jerocarne in Calabria caused by the earthquake of 1783 483

23. Chasm formed by the earthquake near Oppido in Calabria . 485

24. Chasm in the hill of St. Angelo, near Soriano in Calabria, caused by the.

earthquake in 1783 * .... 486

25. Circular pond nearPolistena in Calabria caused by the same earthquake 486

26. Change of the surface at Fra Ramondo, near Soriano in Calabria 490

27. Landslips near Cinquefrondi caused by earthquake of 1783 . 492

28. Circular hollows in the plain of Rosarno formed by the same earthquake 493

29. Section of one of them . . . . 494

30. Ground plan of the coast of the Bay of Baise in the environs of Puzzuoli 518

31. Section exhibiting the relation of the recent marine deposits to the

more ancient in the Bay of Baise to the north of Puzzuoli . 519

32. Section exhibiting the same relation to the south-east . 519

33. View of the crater of the Great Geyser in Iceland . . 536

Online LibraryCharles LyellPrinciples of geology; being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 53)