Gideon Algernon Mantell.

Geological excursions round the Isle of Wight, and along the adjacent coast of Dorsetshire; illustrative of the most interesting geological phenomena, and organic remains online

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Online LibraryGideon Algernon MantellGeological excursions round the Isle of Wight, and along the adjacent coast of Dorsetshire; illustrative of the most interesting geological phenomena, and organic remains → online text (page 20 of 21)
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endeavour to deduce therefrom some general re-
sults as to the nature of those physical mutations,

* Professor Sedgwick.


of which we have obtained such unequivocal
proofs. Fortunately, the evidence of the impor-
tant changes which the organic and inorganic
kingdoms of nature have undergone in this part
of the globe, during the vast periods embraced by
our researches, is so conclusive, that the attentive
reader will perceive the following inferences, start-
ling as they may appear, naturally result from the
facts that have been submitted to his observation.

I. The Oolitic Epoch. — The most ancient
deposits comprehended in our Excursions, are
the uppermost beds of an oceanic formation of
great extent — the Oolite — which is characterised
by numerous peculiar species and genera of marine
reptiles, fishes, mollusks, radiaria, corals, zoo-
phytes, &c. With these strata are intercalated in
some places, deposits of variable extent and thick-
ness, containing carbonized vegetable remains,
and the stems and foliage of palms, arborescent
and herbaceous ferns, cycadeous plants, and coni-
ferae ; with bones and teeth of terrestrial reptiles,
and of marsupial and insectivorous mammalia,
associated with vestiges of insects. These beds
are evidently attributable to the action of rivers
and streams, by which the spoils of the land were
transported into the abyss of the ocean. But our
present survey only refers to the period when a


portion of the bed of the Oolitic sea was elevated
above the waters, and constituted an island
clothed with pine-forests, and cycadeous plants.*

II. The Wealden Epoch. — The country with
its pine -forests was gradually submerged, and
formed the beds of estuaries and bays, into which
land floods, loaded with sedimentary detritus, depo-
sited mud, silt, and sand, abounding in the remains
of freshwater mollusks and crustaceans ; in which,
from occasional irruptions of the sea, were inter-
calated layers of oysters, and estuarine shells.
Bones and teeth of terrestrial reptiles, and of river
fishes, with stems and fragments of coniferous wood,
were also drifted into the estuaries and bays by the
streams and rivers. -j- The gradual subsidence of
the sea-bottom covered by these freshwater beds
continued, and the sediments accpuired an exclu-
sively fluviatile character, till at length the accu-
mulated deposits of avast river formed an extensive
delta, many hundred feet in thickness, upon the
inferior strata. The imbedded organic remains
attest, that throughout this epoch the fauna and
flora of the country through which the river
flowed, corresponded with those of the islands and
continents of the Oolitic period.^

* Evidence : the Fossil Forest of Portland, &c. p. 395.

t Evidence: the Purheck strata, p. 354.

% Evidence: the Wealden strata and fossils, p. 332.


III. The Cretaceous Epoch. — The commence-
ment of this era was marked by the subsidence of
the entire area now occupied by the greensand
formation, to a depth sufficient to admit of the
accumulation of the deep sea deposits, of which
the greater part of the cretaceous beds of England,
and of the adjacent portion of the European Con-
tinent, consists. The Wealden sediments were
submerged to a great depth, and upon them were
deposited sands, and argillaceous mud, and calca-
reous detritus, teeming with marine exuviae.*
But the ocean of the chalk extended far beyond
the limits of the Wealden ; it buried beneath its
waters a considerable portion of modern Europe,
and its waves reached the New World, and covered
part of the continent of North America. This
ocean swarmed with numerous forms of marine
organisms, belonging in a great measure to species
and genera unknown in the earlier, and in the
later, geological epochs. The interspersions of
freshwater deposits containing terrestrial exuviae,
though inconsiderable, prove that although the delta
of the country of the Iguanodon was submerged
in the abyss of the ocean, a group of islands, or a
continent, inhabited by that colossal reptile and
its contemporaries, and covered with pine-forests,

• Evidence : Greensand strata at Atherfield, &c. see p. L'23.


cycadeae, and ferns, flourished up to a late period
of the Cretaceous epoch.*

IV. The Tertiary Epoch. — The bed of the
chalk ocean was broken up, and considerable areas
were elevated above the sea, and covered with
vegetation, and tenanted by pachydermata and
other mammalia ; the dry land of Europe during
this period was less extensive than at the pre-
sent time.

In the basins and depressions formed by the
submerged portions of the cretaceous strata, new
sediments began to take place ; the sea which
deposited them teeming with marine animals, dis-
tinct from those of the pre-existing ocean. Local
intrusions of freshwater deposits, abounding in
the spoils of the land and its inhabitants, denote
the existence of islands or continents, tenanted
by mammalia allied to the tapir, elephant, rhino-
ceros, horse, deer, &c. ;-f and the vegetable remains,
consisting of palms and dicotyledonous trees, indi-
cate an approach to the flora of the warm regions of
the south of Europe. A few reptiles, principally
of the alligator and crocodilian types, and lizards of
small size, appear as the representatives of the

* Evidence : The Jguanodon, and freshwater turtles, pine-trees and cycadeae
of the greensand of Maidstone ; the ferns of the greensand of the Isle of
Wight, p. 230; the Clathraria Lyellii of the chalk-marl at Bonchurch, p. 244.

t Evidence : see p. 117, and p. 169.


swarms of colossal oviparous quadrupeds of the
previous epochs.

V. The Pre-historic Epoch. — From the most
recent tertiary deposits, to those in which occur
the remains of animals which seem to have
always been contemporary with the human race,
the transition is imperceptible. But elevatory
movements, and subsidences, more or less general,
appear to have continually taken place, by which
the relative position of the land and sea was
subjected to repeated oscillation. During this
peric 1, large pachyderms, as the Mammoth, Mas-
todon, Hippopotamus, Rhinoceros, &c. — several
species of Horse — gigantic Elks and Deer — and
many Carnivora, as the Lion, Tiger, Bear, Hyena,
&c. — inhabited the European Continent and
Islands. While this fauna prevailed, a succession
of terrestrial disturbances occurred, by which the
physical configuration of the land was materially
changed. England and its Islands were separated
from the Continent ; and to this epoch is pro-
bably referable the formation of the lines of ele-
vation, that traverse the districts over which our
observations have extended.

Lastly — Man took possession of the land, and
such of the large mammalia as had survived
the preceding geological revolutions, were either


exterminated by his agency, or reduced to a domes-
ticated state. Subsequently to the occupation of
these Islands by the aboriginal tribes, the country
has undergone no important physical mutations.
The usual effects of the atmosphere, the wasting of
the shores by the encroachments of the sea, the
erosion of the land by streams and rivers, the
silting up of valleys, and the formation of deltas,
are apparently the only terrestrial changes to
which England and its Islands have been sub-
jected during the historic ages.

Corollary. — From this examination of the
geological phenomena of the south-east of Eng-
land, we learn that at a period incalculably
remote, there existed in the northern hemi-
sphere an extensive island or continent, pos-
sessing a climate of such a temperature, that its
surface was covered with arborescent ferns, palms,
cycadeae, and other coniferae ; and the ocean
that watered its shores, was inhabited by turtles,
and marine lizards of extinct genera. This
country suffered a partial subsidence, which was
effected so tranquilly, that many of the trees
retained their erect position, and the cycadeous
plants, and a considerable layer of the vegetable
mould in which they grew, remained undisturbed.
In this state an inundation of freshwater covered


the country and its forests, and deposited upon the
soil and around the trees a calcareous mud, which
was gradually consolidated into limestone ; thermal
streams, holding flint in solution, percolated the
mass, and silicified the submerged trees and

A further subsidence took place, floods of
freshwater overwhelmed the petrified forest, and
heaped upon it accumulations of detritus, which
streams and rivers had transported from the land.
The country traversed by the rivers, like that of
the submerged forest, enjoyed a tropical climate,
and was clothed with palms, arborescent ferns,
and cycadeae ; it was tenanted by gigantic her-
bivorous and carnivorous reptiles, and its waters
abounded in turtles, and various kinds of fishes,
and mollusca. The bones of the reptiles, the
teeth and scales of the fishes, the shells of the
mollusca, and the stems, leaves, and seed-vessels of
the trees and plants, were brought down by the
streams, and imbedded in the mud of the delta,
beneath which the petrified forest was now

This state continued for an indefinite period —
another change tookplace — the Country of Reptiles
with its inhabitants was swept away, and the
delta, and the fossil trees with the marine strata on


which they once grew, subsided to a great depth,
and formed part of the bottom of a profound
ocean ; the waters of which teemed with countless
myriads of zoophytes, shells, and fishes, of species
long since extinct. Periodical intrusions of ther-
mal streams charged with silex, gave rise to layers
and veins of nodular and tabular flint, and occa-
sioned the silicification of the organic remains
subjected to their influence.

This epoch, which was of long duration, was suc-
ceeded by elevatory movements, by which the
bottom of the deep was broken up, and large areas
were slowly upheaved ; and as the elevation con-
tinued, the deposits which had accumulated in
the depths of the ocean, approached the surface,
and were exposed to the action of the waves.
These masses of cretaceous strata now began to
suffer destruction, and the delta of the Country
of the Iguanodon gradually emerged above the
waters ; and finally the petrified forest of the
Oolite rose in the midst of the sea, and became
dry land. At length some portions of the ele-
vated strata attained an altitude of several hun-
dred feet, and a group of islands was formed ;
but in the basins or depressions beneath the
waters, sediments derived from the disintegration
of the sea-cliffs were deposited. Large herbivorous



mammalia now inhabited such portions of the
former ocean-bed as were covered with vegetation
sufficient for their support ; and as these animals
died, their bones became enveloped in the accu-
mulations of mud and gravel, which were form-
ing in the bays and estuaries.

This era also passed away — the elevatory move-
ments continued — other masses of the bed of the
chalk ocean, and of the wealden strata beneath,
became dry land — and at length those more recent
deposits containing the remains of the herbivorous
mammalia which were the last tenants of the
country. The oak, elm, ash, and other trees of
modern Europe, now sprang up where the groves
of palms and tree-ferns once nourished — the stag,
boar, and horse, ranged over the plains in which
were entombed the bones of the colossal reptiles —
and finally, Man appeared, and took possession of
the soil.

At the present time, the deposits containing
the remains of the mammoth and other extinct
mammalia, are the sites of towns and villages,
and support busy communities of the human race ;
the Huntsman courses, and the Shepherd tends his
flocks on the elevated masses of the bottom
of the ancient chalk ocean — the Farmer reaps his
harvests upon the cultivated soil of the delta of



the Country of the Iguanodon — and the Architect
obtains from beneath the petrified forest, the ma-
terials with which to construct his temples and his
palaces : while from these various strata, the Geo-
logist gathers together the relics of the beings that
lived and died in periods of unfathomable anti-
quity, and of which the very types have long since
been obliterated from the face of the earth, and
by these natural memorials is enabled to determine
the nature and succession of those physical revolu-
tions, which preceded all history and tradition.


Page 127 should be page 126.
,, 144, line 3 from the top, for west, read easl.
,, 220, lign. 18, n. and s. should be transposed: the left
hand of the section is to the south.

A List of the most important Publications relating
to the Geology of the Isle of Wight, and the
Coast of Dorsetshire.

I. " A Description of the principal picturesque Beauties,
Antiquities, and Geological Phenomena op the Isle of Wight ;
by Sir Henry C. Encjlefield, Bart. : with additional observations
on the Strata of the Island, and their continuation in the adja-
cent parts of Dorsetshire, by Thomas Webster, Esq. Illustrated
by Maps, and numerous engravings from original drawings."
1 vol. folio. London, 1816. pp. 238, and 50 plates. Published
at £i is*

The many references and extracts in the present work from
this splendid volume, sufficiently attest its value. The Reader
must bear in mind, that the freshwater character of the " Iron
sands" of Sussex, Kent, and Surrey, was unknown to Mr. Webster
at the period of Sir H. Englefield's publication ; and that the
series of deposits now denominated the Wealden, comprises the
" Iron or ferruginous sands " below the clays and Sussex marbles,
under the name of Hastings sands : while the ferruginous sands
between the Weald-clay and the Gait, belong to the Greensand
group .

II. Dr. Fitton's Memoir, to which reference has so often been
made in the preceding pages, is published in Vol. I V. new series
of the Transactions of the Geological Society of London; and

* Mr. Bohn has a copy for sale, price £2 12*. tirf.


may be purchased separately, as well as several of the following,
at the Society's Apartments, Somerset House. It is entitled —

" Observations on some of the Strata between the Chalk
and the Oxford Oolite in the South-east of England ;"
pp. 286, 5 coloured Maps, 3 large plates of Sections, and 14 plates
of Fossils. Price £1 10s.

III. " On the Geology of the Neighbourhood of Weymouth
and the adjacent Parts of the Coast of Dorset." By the
Eev. Dr. Buckland (now the Dean of Westminster), and Sir H.
De la Beche. Geological Transactions, vol. iv. new series, pp. 46 ;
with a large coloured Map, and two plates of coloured Sections.
Price Is.

IV. "On the Discovery of fossil bones of the Iguanodon


Isle of Purbeck. By the Eev. Dr. Buckland." Geol. Trans.
vol. iii. pp. 8. One Plate. Price 3s. 6d.

V. " Inquiries respecting the Geological Eelations of the
Beds between the Chalk and the Purbeck Limestone in the
South-east of England. By Dr. Fitton." Annals of Philosoxihy
for November, 1824.

VI. "On the Purbeck and Portland Beds. By Thomas
Webster, Esq. Secretary of the Geological Society." Geol.
Trans, vol. ii. Second series, pp. 4. One plate of Fossils. Price
2s. 6d.

VII. " On the Cycadeoide^;, a Family of fossil Plants


Eev. W. Buckland, D.D. &c." Geol. Trans, vol. ii. Second
series; pp. 8, with four plates. Price 5s.

VIII. "Outlines of the Geology of England and Wales.
By the Eev. W. D. Conybeare, and W. Phillips, Esq." 1 vol. 8vo.
London, 1822. This admirable work contains a compendium of
the geological phenomena of the Isle of Wight and the adjacent
coasts, so far as known at the period of its publication.


IX. "Observations on Part op the Sections of the Lower
Greensand at Atherfield, on the Coast of the Isle of Wight.
By W. H. Fitton, M.D. &c." Proceedings of the Geological
Society, vol. iv. p. 198.

X. " On the Thickness of the Lower Greensand Beds of the
South-east of the Isle of Wight. By F. W. Simms, Esq."
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. i. p. 76.

XL " Comparative Remarks on the Sections below the
Chalk on the Coast near Hythe in Kent, and Atherfield
in the Isle of Wight. By Dr. Fitton." Quarterly Journal
of the Geological Society, vol. i. p. 179.

XII. " On the Section between Blackgang Chine and Ather-
field Point. By Capt. L. L. B. Ibbetson and Professor Edward
Forbes." Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. i.
p. 190.

XIII. "Catalogue of Lower Greensand Fossils in the
Museum of the Geological Society. By Professor Edward
Forbes, F.E.S. &c." Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society,
vol. i. p. 237, and p. 345.

The following Memoirs principally relate to the Strata
above the Chalk.

I. " On the Freshwater Formations in the Isle of Wight,
with some Observations on the Strata over the Chalk in
the South-east Part of England. By Thomas Webster, Esq."
Geol. Trans, vol. ii. (published in 1814).

II. "On the Freshwater Formation in Hordwell Cliff,
Hampshire, and on the subjacent Beds from Hordwell to
Muddiford. By Thomas Webster, Esq." Geological Transactions,
vol. i. p. 90. Second series.


III. IV. "On the Strata or the Plastic Clay Formation


Hampshire and Studland Bay in Dorsetshire." And " On
the Freshwater Strata of Hordwell Cliff, Beacon Cliff, and
Barton Cliff, Hampshire. By Charles Lyell, Esq. F.R.S. &c."
Geological Transactions, vol. ii. Second series. Pp. 14, with a
coloured Map. Price 7s.

V. "On the London and Plastic Clay Formations of the
Isle of Wight. By J. S. Bowerbank, Esq. F.R.S." Geological
Transactions, vol. vi. pp. 4. Woodcuts. Price Is. 6d.

VI. " Remarks on the Existence of Anoplotherium and
Pal^eotherium in the Freshwater Strata at Binstead, near
Ryde, in the Isle of Wight. By Samuel Peace Pratt, Esq.
F.R.S." Geological Transactions, vol. iii. pp. 3. Price 3s.

VII. " Description of some Fossil Remains of Cileropotamus,
Pal^otherhjm, Anoplotherium, and Dichobune, from the
Eocene Formation, Isle of Wight. By Professor Owen." Geo-
logical Transactions, vol. vi. pp. 19 ; two plates. Price 7s.

VIII. " On the Tertiary or Supra-cretaceous Formations of
the Isle of Wight, as exhibited in the Sections at Alum and
Whitecliff Bays. By Joseph Prestwich, Jun. Esq." Quarterly
Journal of the Geological Society, vol. ii. pp. 224 — 259.

IX. " On the Discovery of the Fossil Remains of an Alli-

Hordwell Cliff; with Observations upon the Geological
Phenomena of that Locality. By Mr. Searles Wood, F.G.S."
In " The London Geological Journal, and Record of Discoveries
in British and Foreign Palaeontology," p. 1. September, 1846.
Published every second month, by Churchill, London.

*x* Models of the Isle of Wight, coloured geologically (price
from 5s. to 21. 2s.), may be obtained of Mr. R. T. Wilde, 19, Cur-
sitor-street, Chancery -lane. The purchaser should order the model
to be coloured in accordance with the Geological Map of this

1*a- ,;,,:■


Eocene deposits
(nuux'/ie&irvffi water

freshwater Strata
| London Clay &e

Cretaceous I ■ *-» fj*

System | JkTirestane

\\'< .il.l-n

: i '/'/ 1 1,11,1,

Gays. Maris. San&r.





Apton Downs, 25, 204, 206.
Alum Bay, 24, 149, 155.
Ansh-mel, 376.
Arreton Down, 205.
Ashey Down, 122, 205.
Atherfield Cliffs, 221, 230, 342.
Station, 20, 220.


Bagshot, 85.
Ballard Downs, 369.
Barn-door Cove, 386.
Barton Cliff, 166.
Basingstoke, 85.
Bats-corner, 369, 386, 389.
Beacon Cliff, 166.
Bembridge, 123.

Foreland, 336.

Binstead, 18, 102.

Blackgang Chine, 26, 233, 249, 341.

Bognor, 127.

Boiichurch, 247, 251, 257.

Bournemouth, 169.

Bracklesham Bay, 129.

Brading, 122.

: Down, 26, 251.

Haven, 96, 336.

Brighton, 203.
Brixton Bay, 284, 328.
Brook, 2i9.

Bay, 271.

Point, 25, 277.

Bullface Ledge, 277.


Calbourne, 143.
Calshot Castle, 89.
Carisbrook, 142.
Chaldon Downs, 369, 389.
Chapman's Pool, 366.
Cherton Bunny, 166.
Chesil Bank, 391, 393.
Chesilton, 401.
Christchurch Bay, 164.

Colin's Pool, 256.
Cohvell Bay, 149.
Compton Bay, 25, 27, 210, 214, 280.

Chine, 210, 373.

Cowes, 18, 97, 146.
Cowlease Chine, 2S5.
Culver Cliffs, 27, 125, 339.


Dodspit Farm, 143.
Dorsetshire Coast, 28.
Dunnose Point 250, 257, 340.
Durdle Cove, 29, 385.
Durlstone Bay, 352.
Head, 363.


Emmett's Hill, 366.
Esher, 84


Freshwater Gate, 19, 24, 194.


Gad Cliff, 366.
Goldsworth Hill, 84.
Gosport, 88.
Gurnet Bay, 146.


Hampstead Cliff, 146.
Handfast Point, 214, 349.
Headon Hill. 24, 14;/, 158.
Hengistbury Head, 164.
High Down, 177
Holworth Cliff, 392.
Hordwell, 164, 171.
Horse-shoe Bay, 255.
Horsham, 327.
Hurst Castle, 165.


Isle of Portland, 393.

Purbetk, 345

Wight, HO.



Kimmeridge Bay, 366.


Ladder Chine, 231.
Little-town Down, 25G.
Longmead End, 1G5.
Luccomb Chine, 258.
Lulworth Cove, 28, 376.

, East and West, 37

Lymington, 1G3.


Main-bench, 198
Man-of-war Cove, 386.
Medina River, 95, 140.
Motteston Downs, 204.
Mountjoy Down, 140.
Mupe Cove, 386.


Needles, The, 24, 198, 343.

. ■ Down, 205.

Newchurcli, Vale of, 261.
Newport, 139, 142.
Newtown Bay, 96, 140.
>.iton, 241.


Osborne, 145.
Osmington Cliff, 393, 401.

Parkhurst Barracks. 140.
Portland, Isle of, 393.
Purbeek, Isle of, 345.


Quarr Abbey, 103.


Redcliff, 135, 3
Ringstead Hay, 390,401.
Hookley, 142.
R,yde, 18, 98.


Saint Adhelm'a Head, 365.

■ Boniface Down, 250.

Catherine's Down, 240, 249.

Clare, 236.

Helen's, ill. 124, 336.

Sandown Bay, 132, 261, 339.

i :., 237.
Schehallien, 251.

Scratchell's Bay, 198.
Seafleld, 117.

Shalcomb Down, 219, 343.
Shalfleet, 142.
Shanklin, 258.

■ ■ Chine, 258.

Down, 251, 257.

Shepherd's Chine, 285.
Southampton, 86.
Spithead, 90.
Stare Cove, 386.
Stone, Bucks, 400.
Stubbington, 89.
Studland Bay, 349.
Swanage, 346.

■ Bay, 348.

Swindon, 399.
Swine's Back, 369.


Thame, 399.
Thornev Bay, 146.
Tiepit, 2S5.

Tilly-whim Quarries, 363.
Tolland's Bay, 149.
Tongariro, 181.


Undercliff, 93, 237, 251.


Vauxhall Station, 17.
Ventnor, 248, 255.
Shute, 250.


Walpen Chine, 231.
Wandsworth Station, 83.
Wardour, Vale of, 31)9.
West Lulworth, 29, 376.
Weybridge Station, 84.
Weymouth, 391. 401.
Whale Chine, 231.
WhitecliffBay, 124, 339.
Whitenore Point, 390, 401.
Winchester. 86.
Windspit Quarries, 364.
Wingfield Station, 85'.
Woking Common, 84.
Wooton-bridge, 19, 139,

— river, 96.

Worbarrow Bav. 28, 370, 375.
Knob, 367.

Var, River, 96.

Yarmouth, 19, 162, 194, 345.

Yaverland, 123,311.


Afton Down, views from, 25, 206.
Alligator, fossil remains of, 169.

Hantoniensis, 169.

Alum Bay, View of, 24, 147.

, fossils of, 161.

, geology of, 152.

, section of, 155.

Ammonites giganteus, 400

Mantelli, 187.

varians, 187.

Animalcules, fossil in flint, 184.

— j so f t p ar ts, 184.

Anoplotherium commune, 117, 118.
secundarium, 117,

Anticlinal axis of Sandown Bay,

Araucaria excelsa, 398.
Area raulini, 191.
Artesian wells, 81, 87.

well of Crenelle, 82.

Ashey Down, 122.

sea-mark, view from, 205.

Atherfield Cliffs, 221.

fossils, 225, 239.

-, greensand series, 223,

225, 227.

-, road to, 220.

- Station, 20, 221.

-, view of, from the sea,


Bagshot sands, 78.
Bar of shingle off Hurst Castle, 165.
Barber's Isle of Wight, 17.
Barn-door Cove, 386.
Basingstoke, 85.

, ruins of a chapel at,

Bats-corner, 390.

Bern bridge, 124.
Binstead, IS, 105.

, fossils, 103, 107, 110.

, limestone, 107.

, quarries, 102.

Blackgang Chine, view of, 26, 233.

, strata of, 233.

, from the sea, 341.

Bognor rocks, 127.
Bog-wood, 273.
Bonchurch, 245.

, fossils from, 245.

Bones of reptiles, 137, 312, 355.

in firestone, 245.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20

Online LibraryGideon Algernon MantellGeological excursions round the Isle of Wight, and along the adjacent coast of Dorsetshire; illustrative of the most interesting geological phenomena, and organic remains → online text (page 20 of 21)