Abbildungen der Seite

quantities of pumice stone floating on the sea, which had at first the appearance of shoals, so that he was deceived into sending a boat to examine one, which at the distance of a mile, he supposed to be a dry sandbank, upzuards of three miles in length, with black rocks projecting above it here and there.

Mr. Bickmore speaks of seeing the same kind of stones floating over the sea, when approaching (in April, 1865) the Strait of Sunda. He adds: Besides the quantities of this porous, foam-like lava that are thrown directly into the sea by such eruptions, great quantities remain on the declivities of the volcano and in the surrounding mountains, much of which is conveyed by the rivers, during the rainy season, to the ocean.

(Bickmore: Travels in the Eastern Archipelago.) VOLCANIC FIRE-BELT OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.

Humboldt gives a list of the volcanoes of the world, calculated many years ago. It therefore may be accepted as under-estimated, as there are some 900 volcanoes, extinct and active, to be found in the Eastern Archipelago alone.


As will be seen by the map accompanying this ■work, the volcanic fire-belt very nearly surrounds and outlines the western hemisphere. At Mount Erebus, but a few hundred miles from the South Pole, we see one of Nature's grandest outbursts—one of the world's greatest volcanoes in ceaseless eruption. With its lurid glare reflected back in a hundred ways by the icy mirrors of frozen seas, and the prismatic colorings of towering icebergs, it forms a spectacle too grand for description. Based and capped in the regions of perpetual ice and snow, its fiery peak, 13,000 feet, reaching up in the clouds, is a beacon light in an unknown, untrodden land.


-From this source we shall trace the volcanic, eruptic fire-belt. Making its way north, the great subterranean fire-stream — one branch of which passes under the South Shetland Islands, and on under the restless Atlantic; the other passes through Terra del Fuego, and across the Straits of Magellan into South America. Here the fiery current forces its resistless way under the towering peaks of the Chilean Andes, breaking out at the volcanic peaks of Acacagua, Hulliaciaca, Villarica, San Jose, Peteroa, Antuco, Hamatua, Chillan, Calbuco, Corcovado, Osomo and Zandeles. Through Bolivia, appearing in the volcanoes of Isluya, and Sajama, whose peaks tower 22,350 feet above the sea, and on into Peru, breaking out in angry flames in Arequipa, from the towering peaks of Mesta, Chacarni, Pan de Azucar, burying the cities of Arequipa and Orite, Tultapace and Ubinos, in burning lava and ashes, in the sixteenth century. And again, at Cotopaxi, 19,500 feet above the sea, boiling over and forcing its fiery way out of a height of 17,000 feet at Sangaii, still in Peru, pouring out sulphurous smoke, ashes, cinders and lava, the flames lighting up the country around for one hundred and fifty years past Hujrcrincrtne Pacific shores, along into Ecuador, where the great extinct crater of Chimborazo lies, while a branch of the stream, now extinct, makes off to the west some six hundred miles or more, and burst out in the Galapagos Islands, whose numerous extinct craters, nearly two thousand in number, give evidence of a severe eruption in past ages.


From Ecuador, the current flows on through New Granada, Guatemala, Central America and San Salvador. The current through these latter countries seems to be in a quiescent state, as, although abundant evidences of its eruptic forces can be traced in the past, there are no active volcanoes in existence in those countries at the present time.

Still onward pursuing its northerly course, to break out again in Mexico, in Anahuac and in Michiochan, in the volcanoes of Tuxtla, Orizaba, Popocatapetl, Isztachuatl, Toluca, Jornillo, and in Colima, in Zapotai, Tancitari and Soconusco. These are nearly all in an inactive state at present, if we except a little smoke and sulphurous vapors emitted from some of the craters.

Tuxtla, though (in the State of Vera Cruz), emits a flame day and night, lighting up the heavens with a glare that may be seen far away at sea.

The current branches here again, one stream making its way due west, under the sea, for over 2,500 miles, to appear again in those majestic volcanic outbursts of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, in the Sandwich Islands.


The other stream pursues a peaceful course on through North America, following the line of the Pacific shore, on through California, Oregon, Washington Territory and British America, into Alaska. Through these countries, the flow of the fiery channel below may be traced by the evidences, not only of extinct volcanoes, but of the vast overflow of lava and volcanic tufa, to be found all along the route named.

Of Mount Hood, Shasta, Mount St. Helena, and some others of lesser note, there is little to be said. Their peaks, rising from eleven to fourteen thousand feet, have no doubt formed vents for the restless fluid beneath. The geysers, hot springs and mud ebullitions, found all along the Pacific coast, owe their existence and activity to the yet unsubdued fires of the volcanic belt.


Breaking out again at Mount St. Elias, in Alaska, in fitful outbursts, and but lately on one of the islands of the Aleutian chain, we see the mighty forces of the fire-stream still at work.

Crossing from Alaska to Kamptchatka, through the Aleutian Islands, and touching the southern portion of the latter country, the eruptic current turns southby-west, and flows on through the Kurile Islands, and through the main groups of the island empire of Japan, whose uneasy foundations are truly said to be rocked in the cradle of the deep.

Still onward, pursuing its southerly course, through the Phillipine and Mollucca Islands, often shaking them to their centers with its angry forces, the fire-stream makes its way, touching the northwestern portion of Celebes on the one hand, and missing its great island neighbor, Borneo, on the other; it bursts forth in terrible and oft-recurring eruptions in ill-fated Java. Here again the current divides, one sweeping to the north and west, through Sumatra, and away into the Bay of Bengal; the other turns at a point further north, from the Molluccas, and flows east-by-south, barely touching New Guinea, through New Ireland and New Britain, under the Solomon Archipelago; then again to the south it pursues its fiery way, through the New Hebrides, into New Zealand ; while another, evidently smaller stream, branches just north of the Hebrides, flowing south-by-west, touching the southeastern coast of Australia, and apparently terminating at the island group of Tasmania or Van Diemen's Land.

As far as known, there are sixty-five volcanoes in Alaska, ten of them being active, with one or two more in the Aleutian Isles. In the New Hebrides, on the island of Tanna, a volcanic peak still forms one of the beacon lights of the South Sea, to be rivaled sometimes by its fiery neighbor, Tongariro, in New Zealand.


Many theories have been advanced by scientists, to explain earthquake and volcanic action; though that advanced by Darwin, from observations in nearly all parts of the world, is generally accepted. It is believed that the crust of the earth, slowly cooling from its once liquid mass, has now formed a crust of from ten to

« ZurückWeiter »