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been followed by many natural philosophers who have given it all possible extension, and, from physical truths and exaet observations, have conducted this theory to a degree of veri. similitude of which the others are not capable. I adopt it, not only as it appears to me the most consonant to the theorems of natural philosophy, but as I find it most proper to give the most natural and easy explanation of the facts which we observe in Sicily, and which seem to add additional proofs to those observed in other regions."*
Bouguer, and many other naturalists, have observed, that Sabsidence. in South America the plains have palpably subsided, and left the rocks elevated in many fantastic forms. It is indeed to be conceived that the earth, originally in a fluid state, as appears from the depression of the poles, and many other circumstances well known in natural philosophy, and replete with innumerable vapours and gases, could only acquire its present comparative solidity by prodigious subsidences, arising from the gravitation of the solid and semifluid parts towards the centre. The most prodigious of the subsidences must have been that which sunk two thirds of the globe to make room for the present oceans, sufficient receptacles for the primeval waters, if the idea of this vast subsidence can be supported. Ferrara, arguing only on that subsidence which gave place to the Mediterranean, says that the mountains above Reggio are very sensibly inclined towards the sea, which indicates that their base sunk to form the channel which divides Italy from Sicily. He also observes, that the inclination of the strata towards the sea may be seen in all the mountains which border the southern side of Sicily t. The following passage likewise deserves observation : “Where the mountains are formed of soils in which the lavas are united with the calcareous masses, or, to explain myself more clearly, where a frontier of consolidated lava was filled from the bottom to the top with calcareous masses, the series of these heights is calcareous on the one side, and volcanic on
* Ferrara, 354.
+ Ferr. 371, 374.
the other. Such is the mountainous mass, terminating in the summit, upon which stands the village of Carlentini. To suppose, with Dolomieu, that the lava pressed through the vale, whence, rising by the side, it arrived at the top, without having passed to the other side, is to suppose an order of things which can 'never have existed at the epoch when the lava was fluid. In fact, this division does not exist when you proceed towards the west, above Lentini, where the lavas cover all parts, that is, the volcanic stratum covers all that extent. The same phenomena are observable in the mountains of Canzaria, near Vizzini, and in some which are in the plain of Marineo, beyond Licodia. In all these stratiform mountains the position of the strata of similar materials corresponds from one mountain to another; a circumstance which may be estimated by the eye, where the breadth of the valleys is not too great. This circumstance demonstrates the character of the revolutions which have produced these inequalities."* He afterwards proceeds to state the sinking of à part of a mountain in 1536, and the catastrophe which happened at Nicosia about 1750, when a fourth part of the city, with the convent and churches of the Capuchins, sunk in one day, so that nothing could be seen but the tops of the buildings, and of the trees; but the people escaped by stepping out of the windows. In 1740 the town of Salemi suffered the same misfortune; and in 1790 some lands sunk near S. Maria di Niscemi. He also states that the people of a place, a few miles to the west of Catania, thirteen years ago could only see the top of the cupola of the Benedictine monastery of that city, the prospect having been impeded by the lava of 1669, but now the entire cupola is seen, the chalky soil under the lava having subsided f.
Perhaps this doctrine of subsidence might of itself explain the inequalities and other phenomena of the earth's surface, without having recourse to any concussion of a satellite or other body. The summits of basalt, and the caps of lime
stone, in the Tyrolese, might perhaps be explained in this manner, and we are at least certain that the cause exists. But it is far from the intention of this work to propose or support any theory; and these remarks must only be regarded as a few scattered hints which may interest the reader.
Pini, in what he calls a new theory of the earth, supposes Pini's system. a nucleus surrounded with a fluid zone, which contained the elements of the various substances; and he imagines the effects and variations to have been very prompt and sudden, owing to the extreme rapidity of the rotation of the earth. He argues for a formation wholly aqueous; but his chief new fact seems to be a granitic mountain at Gana, in Austrian Lombardy, which is throughout full of cavities, a few inches distant from each other, and lined with crystals of quartz and felspar*
The chief features of De Luc's new system of geology De Luc's. seem to be the following. He supposes that during the deluge the former continents disappeared; but this is clearly contrary to the Mosaic account of paradise, and the whole scriptural narrative, which represents the land as stable and unalterable. That successive catastrophes affected the beds of our continents, even while they were rising under the waters by chemical precipitations, being occasioned by caverns which formed under them. That valleys, lakes, abrupt precipices, existed at the birth of our continents, in consequence of those catastrophes by which the beds were ruined. That stony masses and gravel, which are scattered in such great quantities upon the continents, are also original features, and do not arise from currents; the flints proceeding from beds of chalk dissolved; and the gravel, as well as the large blocks, caused by the attrition of fragments, have been expelled from the interior by expansive fluids, during the subsidence of the beds, and dispersed at the same time at the bottom of the sea. That the precipices towards the sea have not been produced by the sea itself, but are original features,
See the Opuscoli Scelti, tom. xiii. Milan 1790, 4to. p. 369, 379.
resulting from the rupture of the beds, at the time of the
These theories may be compared with the Wernerian and
THIS division comprehends the rocks which consist of different substances blended together, and for which no distinct denominations have been adopted. Many of them have been classed under vague names, particularly that of granite.
Under the division of Aggregated Rocks, Gmelin's plan. Gmelin, in his edition of Linnæus, has ar