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analogy of what is known both of the past and present economy of our system. Although the discussion of so comprehensive a subject must carry the beginner far beyond his depth, it will also, it is hoped, stimulate his curiosity, and prepare him to read some elementary treatises on geology with advantage, and teach him the bearing on that science of the changes now in progress on the earth. At the same time it may enable him the better to understand the intimate connection between the Second and Third Books of this work, one of which is occupied with the changes of the inorganic, the latter with those of the organic creation.

In pursuance, then, of the plan above proposed, I will consider in this chapter, first, the laws which regulate the denudation of strata and the deposition of sediment; secondly, those which govern the fluctuation in the animate world; and thirdly, the mode in which subterranean movements affect the earth's crust.

Uniformity of change considered, first, in reference to denudation and sedimentary deposition.—First, in regard to the laws governing the deposition of new strata. If we survey the surface of the globe, we immediately perceive that it is divisible into areas of deposition and non-deposition; or, in other words, at any given time there are spaces which are the recipients, others which are not the recipients, of sedimentary matter. No new strata, for example, are thrown down on dry land, which remains the same from year to year; whereas, in many parts of the bottom of seas and lakes, mud, sand, and pebbles are annually spread out by rivers and currents. There are also great masses of limestone growing in some seas, chiefly composed of corals and shells, or, as in the depths of the Atlantic, of chalky mud made up of foraminifera and diatomaceæ.

As to the dry land, so far from being the receptacle of fresh accessions of matter, it is exposed almost everywhere to waste away. Forests may be as dense and lofty as those of Brazil, and may swarm with quadrupeds, birds, and insects, yet at the end of thousands of years one layer of black mould a few inches thick may be the sole representative of those myriads of trees, leaves, flowers, and fruits, those in

numerable bones and skeletons of birds, quadrupeds, and reptiles, which tenanted the fertile region. Should this land be at length submerged, the waves of the sea may wash away in a few hours the scanty covering of mould, and it may merely impart a darker shade of colour to the next stratum of marl, sand, or other matter newly thrown down. So also at the bottom of the ocean where no sediment is accumulating, seaweed, zoophytes, fish, and even shells, may multiply for ages and decompose, leaving no vestige of their form or substance behind. Their decay, in water, although more slow, is as certain and eventually as complete as in the open air. Nor can they be perpetuated for indefinite periods in a fossil state, unless imbedded in some matrix which is impervious to water, or which at least does not allow a free percolation of that fluid, impregnated, as it usually is, with a slight quantity of carbonic or other acid. Such a free percolation may be prevented either by the mineral nature of the matrix itself, or by the superposition of an impermeable stratum; but if unimpeded, the fossil shell or bone will be dissolved and removed, particle after particle, and thus entirely effaced, unless petrifaction or the substitution of some mineral for the organic matter happen to take place.

That there has been land as well as sea at all former geological periods, we know from the fact that fossil trees and terrestrial plants are imbedded in rocks of every age, except those which are so ancient as to be very imperfectly known to us. Occasionally lacustrine and fluviatile shells, or the bones of amphibious or land reptiles, point to the same conclusion. The existence of dry land at all periods of the past implies, as before mentioned, the partial deposition of sediment, or its limitation to certain areas; and the next point to which I shall call the reader's attention is the shifting of these areas from one region to another.

First, then, variations in the site of sedimentary deposition are brought about independently of subterranean movements. There is always a slight change from year to year, or from century to century. The sediment of the Rhone, for example, thrown into the Lake of Geneva, is now conveyed to a spot a mile and a half distant from that where it accumulated in the tenth century, and six miles from the point where the

delta began originally to form. We may look forward to the period when this lake will be filled up, and then the distribution of the transported matter will be suddenly altered, for the mud and sand brought down from the Alps will thenceforth, instead of being deposited near Geneva, be carried nearly 200 miles southwards, where the Rhone enters the Mediterranean.

In the deltas of large rivers, such as those of the Ganges and Indus, the mud is first carried down for many centuries through one arm, and on this being stopped up it is discharged by another, and may then enter the sea at a point 50 or 100 miles distant from its first receptacle. The direction of marine currents is also liable to be changed by various accidents, as by the heaping up of new sandbanks, or the wearing away of cliffs and promontories.

But, secondly, all these causes of fluctuation in the sedimentary areas are entirely subordinate to those great upward or downward movements of land, which will presently be spoken of, as prevailing over large tracts of the globe. By such elevation or subsidence certain spaces are gradually submerged, or made gradually to emerge: in the one case sedimentary deposition may be suddenly renewed after having been suspended for one or more geological periods, in the other as suddenly made to cease after having continued for ages.

If deposition be renewed after a long interval, the new strata will usually differ greatly from the sedimentary rocks previously formed in the same place, and especially if the older rocks have suffered derangement, which implies a change in the physical geography of the district since the previous conveyance of sediment to the same spot. It may happen, however, that, even where the two groups, the superior and the inferior, are horizontal and conformable to each other, they may still differ entirely in mineral character, because, since the origin of the older formation, the geography of some distant country has been altered. In that country rocks before concealed may have become exposed by denudation; volcanos may have burst out and covered the surface with scoriæ and lava; or new lakes, intercepting the sediment previously conveyed from the upper country, may

numerable bones and skeletons of birds, quadrupeds, and reptiles, which tenanted the fertile region. Should this land be at length submerged, the waves of the sea may wash away in a few hours the scanty covering of mould, and it may merely impart a darker shade of colour to the next stratum of marl, sand, or other matter newly thrown down. So also at the bottom of the ocean where no sediment is accumulating, seaweed, zoophytes, fish, and even shells, may multiply for ages and decompose, leaving no vestige of their form or substance behind. Their decay, in water, although more slow, is as certain and eventually as complete as in the open air. Nor can they be perpetuated for indefinite periods in a fossil state, unless imbedded in some matrix which is impervious to water, or which at least does not allow a free percolation of that fluid, impregnated, as it usually is, with a slight quantity of carbonic or other acid. Such a free percolation may be prevented either by the mineral nature of the matrix itself, or by the superposition of an impermeable stratum; but if unimpeded, the fossil shell or bone will be dissolved and removed, particle after particle, and thus entirely effaced, unless petrifaction or the substitution of some mineral for the organic matter happen to take place.

That there has been land as well as sea at all former geological periods, we know from the fact that fossil trees and terrestrial plants are imbedded in rocks of every age, except those which are so ancient as to be very imperfectly known to us. Occasionally lacustrine and fluviatile shells, or the bones of amphibious or land reptiles, point to the same conclusion. The existence of dry land at all periods of the past implies, as before mentioned, the partial deposition of sediment, or its limitation to certain areas; and the next point to which I shall call the reader's attention is the shifting of these areas from one region to another.

First, then, variations in the site of sedimentary deposition are brought about independently of subterranean movements. There is always a slight change from year to year, or from century to century. The sediment of the Rhone, for example, thrown into the Lake of Geneva, is now conveyed to a spot a mile and a half distant from that where it accumulated in the tenth century, and six miles from the point where the

delta began originally to form. We may look forward to the period when this lake will be filled up, and then the distribution of the transported matter will be suddenly altered, for the mud and sand brought down from the Alps will thenceforth, instead of being deposited near Geneva, be carried nearly 200 miles southwards, where the Rhone enters the Mediterranean.

In the deltas of large rivers, such as those of the Ganges and Indus, the mud is first carried down for many centuries through one arm, and on this being stopped up it is discharged by another, and may then enter the sea at a point 50 or 100 miles distant from its first receptacle. The direction of marine currents is also liable to be changed by various accidents, as by the heaping up of new sandbanks, or the wearing away of cliffs and promontories.

But, secondly, all these causes of fluctuation in the sedimentary areas are entirely subordinate to those great upward or downward movements of land, which will presently be spoken of, as prevailing over large tracts of the globe. By such elevation or subsidence certain spaces are gradually submerged, or made gradually to emerge: in the one case sedimentary deposition may be suddenly renewed after having been suspended for one or more geological periods, in the other as suddenly made to cease after having continued for ages.

If deposition be renewed after a long interval, the new strata will usually differ greatly from the sedimentary rocks previously formed in the same place, and especially if the older rocks have suffered derangement, which implies a change in the physical geography of the district since the previous conveyance of sediment to the same spot. It may happen, however, that, even where the two groups, the superior and the inferior, are horizontal and conformable to each other, they may still differ entirely in mineral character, because, since the origin of the older formation, the geography of some distant country has been altered. In that country rocks before concealed may have become exposed by denudation; volcanos may have burst out and covered the surface with scoriæ and lava; or new lakes, intercepting the sediment previously conveyed from the upper country, may

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