IV. THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN GEOLOGY
"And in this manner, for a certain time, a violent reciprocation of atmospheric phenomena must have continued—torrents of vapor rising outwardly, while equally tremendous torrents of condensed vapor, or rain, fell towards the earth. The accumulation of the latter on the yet unstable and unconsolidated surface of the globe constituted the primeval ocean. The surface of this ocean was exposed to continued vaporization owing to intense heat; but this process, abstracting caloric from the stratum of the water below, by partially cooling it, tended to preserve the remainder in a liquid form. The ocean will have contained, both in solution and suspension, many of the matters carried upward from the granitic bed in which the vapors from whose condensation it proceeded were produced, and which they had traversed in their rise. The dissolved matters will have been silex, carbonates, and sulphates of lime, and those other mineral substances which water at an intense temperature and under such circumstances was enabled to hold in solution. The suspended substances will have been all the lighter and finer particles of the upper beds where the disintegration had been extreme; and particularly their mica, which, owing to the tenuity of its plate-shaped crystals, would be most readily carried up by the ascending fluid, and will have remained longest in suspension.
"But as the torrents of vapor, holding these various matters in solution and suspension, were forced upward, the greater part of the disintegrated crystals by degrees subsided; those of felspar and quartz first, the mica being, as observed above, from the form of its plates, of peculiar buoyancy, and therefore held longest in suspension.
"The crystals of felspar and quartz as they subsided, together with a small proportion of mica, would naturally arrange themselves so as to have their longest dimensions more or less parallel to the surface on which they rest; and this parallelism would be subsequently increased, as we shall see hereafter, by the pressure of these beds sustained between the weight of the supported column of matter and the expansive force beneath them. These beds I conceive, when consolidated, to constitute the gneiss formation.
"The farther the process of expansion proceeded in depth, the more was the column of liquid matter lengthened, which, gravitating towards the centre of the globe, tended to check any further expansion. It is, therefore, obvious that after the globe settled into its actual orbit, and thenceforward lost little of its enveloping matter, the whole of which began from that moment to gravitate towards its centre, the progress of expansion inwardly would continually increase in rapidity; and a moment must have at length arrived hen the forces of expansion and repression had reached an equilibrium and the process was stopped from progressing farther inwardly by the great pressure of the gravitating column of liquid.
This column may be considered as consisting of different strata, though the passage from one extremity of complete solidity to the other of complete expansion, in reality, must have been perfectly gradual. The lowest stratum, immediately above the extreme limit of expansion, will have been granite barely DISAGGREGATED, and rendered imperfectly liquid by the partial vaporization of its contained water.
"The second stratum was granite DISINTEGRATED; aqueous vapor, having been produced in such abundance as to be enabled to rise upward, partially disintegrating the crystals of felspar and mica, and superficially dissolving those of quartz. This mass would reconsolidate into granite, though of a smaller grain than the preceding rock.
"The third stratum was so disintegrated that a greater part of the mica had been carried up by the escaping vapor IN SUSPENSION, and that of quartz in solution; the felspar crystals, with the remaining quartz and mica, SUBSIDING by their specific gravity and arranging themselves in horizontal planes.
"The consolidation of this stratum produced the gneiss formation.
"The fourth zone will have been composed of the ocean of turbid and heated water, holding mica, etc., in suspension, and quartz, carbonate of lime, etc., in solution, and continually traversed by reciprocating bodies of heated water rising from below, and of cold fluid sinking from the surface, by reason of their specific gravities.
"The disturbance thus occasioned will have long retarded the deposition of the suspended particles. But this must by degrees have taken place, the quartz grains and the larger and coarser plates of mica subsiding first and the finest last.
"But the fragments of quartz and mica were not deposited alone; a great proportion of the quartz held in SOLUTION must have been precipitated at the same time as the water cooled, and therefore by degrees lost its faculty of so much in solution. Thus was gradually produced the formation of mica-schist, the mica imperfectly recrystallizing or being merely aggregated together in horizontal plates, between which the quartz either spread itself generally in minute grains or unified into crystalline nuclei. On other spots, instead of silex, carbonate of lime was precipitated, together with more or less of the nucaceous sediment, and gave rise to saccharoidal limestones. At a later period, when the ocean was yet further cooled down, rock-salt and sulphate of lime were locally precipitated in a similar mode.