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Title: Wonders of Creation: A Descriptive Account of Volcanoes and Their Phenomena
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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[Illustration:  Mount Vesuvius]

[Illustration:  Marvels of Creation]

                      WONDERS OF CREATION:

                    A DESCRIPTIVE ACCOUNT OF


 "The mountains quake at Him and the hills melt and the earth is
               burned at His presence"--NAHUM 1:5



Being intended for the Young, this work treats of Volcanoes only in
a popular way. Scientific details and philosophical speculations
are accordingly avoided. Nevertheless, a perusal of the following
pages may so stimulate the curiosity of youthful minds, that some,
on attaining to riper years and more mature understanding, may be
inspired with a longing to inquire more deeply into this
interesting subject. They may be stimulated to investigate, in a
philosophical spirit, all the marvellous facts and phenomena
connected with volcanic agency, and to speculate on their causes
and modes of operation. Some also, on reaching their manhood, may
be induced to ascend one or more of the nearer active volcanoes,
and examine their phenomena for themselves. The facilities of
travel are now so great, that a visit to Vesuvius or Etna is no
longer beyond the limits of a holiday trip. Even the more remote
Hecla with the playful Geysers may be reached within a reasonable
time. Perhaps a very few, who are now scientific travellers in
embryo, may call to remembrance what they may have read in these
pages, when, many years hence, they may be climbing the cone of
Cotopaxi, or peering into the crater of Kilauea.

Apart from these considerations, a perusal of this work may enable
the young mind to form a more lively idea of the tremendous energy
of the forces which are imprisoned in the bowels of the earth. Such
a vivid conception will naturally lead to a higher appreciation of
the wisdom and power of Him who guides the operation of those
forces by his laws, and has set bounds to their activity which they
cannot overpass.



Volcanoes in general--Origin of the Name--General
Aspect--Crater--Cone--Subordinate Cones and Craters--Peak of
Teneriffe--Lava-Streams--Cascades and Jets of Lava--Variations
in its Consistency--Pumice--Different Sorts of
 Lava--Obsidian--Olivine--Sulphur--Dust, Ashes, &c.--Volcanic
Silk--Volcanic Islands--Volcanic Fishes--Hot Water, Mud,
Vapours, &c.--Volcanic Storm--Explosions--Number of
Volcanoes--King of the Volcanoes--Artificial Volcano


Volcanoes of Iceland--Mount Hecla--Earliest Eruption--Great
Eruption in 1845--Skaptàr Yökul--Terrible Eruption in 1783--Rise
and Disappearance of Nyoë--Katlugaia--The Geysers--A very hot
Bath--Californian Geysers--Iceland-spar--Jan Mayen


Mount Vesuvius--Origin of Name--Former Condition--Eruption of A.D.
79--Death of Pliny--Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum--Appearance
of the Mountain before and after Eruption--Formation of
Monte Nuovo--Eruption of Boiling Water--Coloured Vapours--Cascade
of Lava--Discovery of Remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii--The
Buildings of Pompeii--Street of Tombs--Skeletons--Sundry
Shops--Ascents of Vesuvius--Crater--Temple of Serapis


Mount Etna--Its Appearance and Height--Ancient Eruptions--Pindar's
Allusion--Virgil's Description--Subordinate Cones and
Craters--Caverns--Val de Bove--Formation of Monti Rossi--Eruption
of 1852--Whirlwinds--Lava Torrents--Cascades of Lava--Description
of Crater--Empedocles--Enceladus--Craters of 1865--Cyclopean
Isles--Homer's Legend--Volcanic Origin--Other Basaltic Groups


Lipari Islands--Stromboli--Origin of Name--Position of
Crater--Description of Crater--New Volcanic Island named
Julia--Phenomena preceding its Elevation--Description of Island
and Crater--Its Disappearance--Rise of Islands at Santorin


Peak of Teneriffe--Its Crater--Eruption of Chahorra--Palma--Great
Caldera--Lancerote--Great Eruption--Sudden Death--Fuego, Cape de
Verde Islands--Cotopaxi--Its Appearance--Great Eruptive
Force--Tunguragua--Great Eruption of Mud and Water--Fish thrown
out--Quito--Its Overthrow--Pichinca--Humboldt's Ascent--Narrow


Jorullo--Great Monument--Jorullo's Estate--Interruption to his
Quiet--His Estate Swells--Swallows Two Rivers--Throws up
Ovens--Becomes a Burning Mountain--Popocatepetl--Spanish
Ascents--Orizaba --Muller's Ascent--Morne Garou--Pelée--La


Hawaii, Sandwich Islands--Crater of Kilauea--Its awful
Aspect--Fiery Lake and Islands--Jets of Lava--Depth of Crater
and Surface of Lake--Bank of Sulphur--Curious Rainbow--Mouna
Kaah and Mouna Loa --Eruption of the Latter in 1840--Recent
Eruption--Great Jet and Torrent of Lava--Burning of the
Forests--Great Whirlwinds--Underground Explosions--Other
Volcanoes in the Pacific


Atolls, or Coral Islands--Their strange Appearance--Their Connexion
with Volcanoes--Their Mode of Formation--Antarctic
Volcanoes--Diatomaceous Deposits


Volcanoes of Java--Papandayang--Mountain Ingulfed--Great
Destruction of Life and Property--Galoen gong--Destructive
Eruption--Mount Merapia--Great Eruption, with Hurricane--Another,
very destructive---Mud Volcano--Crater of Tankuban Prahu--Island of
Sumbáwa--Volcano of Tomboro--Terrific Eruption--Timor--A Volcano
quenches itself--Cleaving of Mount Machian--Sangir--Destructive


Mud and Air Volcanoes--Luss--Macaluba--Taman--Korabetoff New Island
in the Sea of Azof--Jokmali--Fires of Baku--Mud Volcano in Flank of
Etna--Air Volcanoes of Turbaco, Cartagena, and Galera Zamba


New Zealand--Boiling Fountains and Lakes


Underground Sounds--Quito--Rio Apure--Guanaxuato--Melida--Nakous


Extinct Volcanoes--Auvergne--Vienne--Agde--Eyfel--Italy--Lacus
Cimini--Grotto del Cane--Guevo Upas--Talaga Bodas--The Dead Sea

                       WONDERS OF CREATION:



Volcanoes in general--Origin of the Name--General
Aspect--Crater--Cone--Subordinate Cones and Craters--Peak of
Teneriffe--Lava-Streams--Cascades and Jets of Lava--Variations
in its Consistency--Pumice--Different Sorts of
Lava--Obsidian--Olivine--Sulphur--Dust, Ashes, &c.--Volcanic
Silk--Volcanic Islands--Volcanic Fishes--Hot Water, Mud, Vapours,
&c--Volcanic storm--Explosions--Number of Volcanoes--King of
the Volcanoes--Artificial Volcano.

Among the many wonderful works of God, none exhibits so much of
awful grandeur as an active volcano. This name for a burning
mountain was first applied to that which exists in the island
anciently called Hiera, one of the Lipari group. It is derived from
the name of the heathen god Vulcan, which was originally spelt with
an initial B, as appears from an ancient altar on which were
inscribed the words BOLCANO SAC. ARA. This spelling indicates the
true derivation of the name, which is simply a corruption of
Tubal-cain, who was "an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron"
(Gen. iv. 22). The ancient heathen, having deified this personage,
imagined, on first seeing a burning mountain, that Tubal-cain, or
Vulcan, must have established his forge in the heart of it, and so,
not unnaturally, named it Volcano--an appellation which the Island
of Hiera retains to the present day.

The Cyclops--the supposed descendants of Vulcan, who were fabled to
have been of gigantic stature, and to have had each only one eye in
the centre of the forehead--were imagined to be the workmen who
laboured in these underground forges. The noises, proceeding from
the heart of the mountain, were attributed to their operations. It
is to the Island of Hiera that Virgil alludes in the Æneid, lib.
viii. 416. The passage is thus rendered by Dryden:--

     "Sacred to Vulcan's name, an isle there lay,
      Betwixt Sicilia's coasts and Lipare,
      Raised high on smoking rocks, and deep below,
      In hollow caves the fires of Etna glow.
      The Cyclops here their heavy hammers deal;
      Loud strokes and hissings of tormented steel
      Are heard around; the boiling waters roar,
      And smoky flames through fuming tunnels soar."

A volcano generally presents itself to the imagination as a
mountain sending forth from its summit great clouds of smoke with
vast sheets of flame, and it is not unfrequently so described. The
truth is, however, that a real volcano seldom emits either true
smoke or true flame. What is mistaken for smoke consists merely of
vast volumes of fine dust, mingled with much steam and other
vapours--chiefly sulphurous. What appears like flames is simply the
glare from the glowing materials which are thrown up towards the
top of the mountain--this glare being reflected from the clouds of
dust and steam.

[Illustration:  Peak of Teneriffe.]

The most essential part of a volcano is the crater, a hollow basin,
generally of a circular form. It is often of large dimensions, and
sometimes of vast depth. Some volcanoes consist of a crater alone,
with scarcely any mountain at all; but in the majority of cases the
crater is situated on the top of a mountain, which in some
instances towers to an enormous height. The part of the mountain
which terminates in the principal crater is usually of a conical
form--much like a glass-house chimney, and is therefore named the
cone. It is generally composed of loose ashes and cinders, with
here and there masses of stone, which have been tossed into the air
by the volcanic forces. In some mountains the cone rises out of a
hollow at a considerable height from the base. A hollow of this
kind is generally regarded as having been a former crater, which
had become extinct before the existing cone was raised. There are
sometimes formed lower down the mountain subordinate craters,
smaller than that which occupies the summit of the cone. Within the
crater itself there are frequently numerous little cones, from
which vapours are continually issuing, with occasional volleys of
ashes and stones.

One of the largest and most perfect of the volcanic cones in the
world is that of the Peak of Teneriffe, of which you have here a
representation. It conveys a good idea of the general form of the
cone, and has long been a conspicuous and useful landmark to
mariners. It is upwards of twelve thousand feet in height, and is
said to be visible in very clear weather at a distance of a hundred

The most interesting products of an active volcano are the streams
of lava which it pours forth--sometimes from the principal crater
on the summit--sometimes from the smaller craters lower down. This
lava consists of melted stone. When it issues from the mountain its
heat is intense and it glows like a furnace, so that, during the
night especially, these fiery rivers present a grand yet awful
spectacle. The streams spread themselves till they sometimes attain
a breadth of several miles, with a depth of several hundred feet,
and they flow onward till their length sometimes reaches fifty

Lava, not being so liquid as water, does not flow so rapidly:
nevertheless, when it is careering down the sides of a mountain, or
where the slope of the ground is considerable, it advances with
great speed. Even when at its hottest, it is somewhat viscid, like
treacle, and this viscidness increases as it cools. Hence on a
level plain, and at some distance from its source, the lava-stream
advances at a leisurely pace. In such circumstances the cooling
proceeds so quickly that a crust of considerable thickness is soon
formed on the top of the current, and persons who are bold enough
may cross the stream by means of this natural bridge. Even where
the current continues flowing rapidly, this crust may be formed on
its surface; and a man, whose curiosity exceeds his prudence, may
stand on the top of it, bore a hole through the crust, and see the
lava flowing underneath his feet!

Nothing can resist the progress of the lava-flood; trees, houses,
everything yields to its massive assault, The trees take fire
before its approach, and when it reaches them they emit a hissing
noise almost amounting to a shriek, and then plunging into the
molten flood are seen no more. Even the sea cannot withstand the
lava-stream, but retires on its approach; so that promontories
stretching to a considerable distance from the shore are formed in
this manner, when the molten matter hardens into stone.

The eruptions of lava are sometimes attended by peculiarities which
impart to them much additional grandeur. Instances have occurred in
which the fiery stream has plunged over a sheer precipice of
immense height, so as to produce a glowing cascade exceeding in
breadth and perpendicular descent the celebrated Falls of Niagara.
In other cases, the lava, instead of at once flowing down the sides
of the mountain, has been first thrown up into the air as a fiery
fountain several hundred feet in height. This happens when the
great crater at the summit of the cone is full of liquid lava but
does not overflow. Then, on the formation of an opening in the side
of the cone, a good way down, the lava issuing from it is projected
upwards to nearly the same height that it occupies in the interior
of the crater at the top of the cone. It is hardly possible for the
fancy to picture to itself anything so magnificent as such a
fountain of liquid fire must be. A simple jet of water of
considerable volume, thrown into the air to the height of a hundred
feet, is itself a beautiful spectacle. What then must be a huge jet
of glowing white lava projected to the height of several hundred
feet, and with what an awful thundering sound must it come tumbling
to the ground, thence to rush as a roaring torrent down the
mountain's side!

Lava, when congealed, differs in its consistency according as it is
near the top or near the bottom of the stream. When near the top it
is porous, owing to its rapid cooling; when near the bottom it is
dense, owing to its slow cooling and the great pressure to which it
is subjected. When the lighter superficial lava is brought suddenly
into contact with water, as when a lava-stream enters the sea, it
becomes still lighter and more porous--forming the well-known
substance called pumice, so much used for polishing. It may be
regarded as the solidified froth of lava, and is so light that it
floats on the surface of water.

The lavas of different mountains, when cooled and hardened, differ
much in their appearance and composition. Among those of Iceland is
found the beautiful black volcanic glass named obsidian. It is a
good deal used for ornamental purposes; for it possesses the
peculiar property of presenting a different appearance according to
the manner in which it is cut. When cut in one direction it is of a
beautiful jetty black; when cut across that direction it is
glistering gray. The lavas of Vesuvius are generally of a brown
colour, and are also used in the arts. In them are found the
beautiful olive-green crystals of the mineral called olivine,
sometimes used by jewellers. But the most useful of all volcanic
productions is native sulphur, in which Mount Etna has been very
prolific. It is to this mountain chiefly, therefore, that we are
indebted for our beautiful fire-works--our squibs, crackers, Roman
candles, serpents, Catherine-wheels, and sky-rockets. Would it had
produced nothing more harmful than these! But it has also supplied
one of the ingredients of that villainous gunpowder, which has been
the means of thrusting so many of our fellow-creatures prematurely
out of the world. Etna, however, can hardly be held responsible for
this sad misuse of the valuable substance which it affords; while
even gunpowder itself has, on the whole, been of vast benefit to
mankind. Could we only refrain from shooting each other with it, we
might regard it as an almost unmixed good; for it has helped us
greatly in forming our roads, railways, and tunnels, and in working
our quarries and mines.

In all great eruptions the flow of the lava is preceded by the
ejection of vast quantities of volcanic dust, ashes, dross, slag,
and loose stones. These are tossed into the air with tremendous
violence, consequently, to a great height. The stones thus ejected
are sometimes of immense size. A rock, whose weight is estimated at
two hundred tons, was thrown from the summit of Cotopaxi to the
distance of more than ten miles. Large stones have been tossed up
by Vesuvius to the estimated height of three thousand six hundred
feet. The dust of the volcano of St. Vincent was carried more than
two hundred miles to the eastward in the teeth of the trade wind;
consequently it must have been thrown to an enormous height, in
order to its falling at so vast a distance from its source.

Besides the usual volcanic dust and ashes, there is sometimes
thrown from the crater of a volcano a substance resembling spun-glass
or asbestos. It possesses the flexibility and lustre of silk.
The volcano of Salazes, in the Island of Bourbon, is remarkable for
this substance, and it has there been seen to form a cloud covering
the entire surface of the mountain. But it has also been found in
other places. How curious it would be to have this volcanic silk
spun into threads, and knitted into stockings or woven into a
garment! Who can tell what may happen in these days of adventure
and invention? Who knows but what some young reader, whose eye is
now resting on this page, may yet live to present his ladylove with
a pair of knitted gloves composed of the volcanic silk of Salazes?

Great as the contrast is between this filmy material and the
ponderous blocks tossed into the air by Cotopaxi and Etna, it is
not greater than that between the latter and other masses which
have from time to time been upheaved by volcanic forces. Instances
have occurred of whole islands having been raised from the bed of
the ocean, or whole mountains upreared on the surface of the land,
far away from the sea, and that too in the short space of a few
hours. But of such we shall have occasion to speak more at large in
the sequel.

Of all the extraordinary productions that have ever been thrown up
by volcanoes, the strangest of all are fishes. How droll to dine
upon fish cooked in a volcano! A queer fish it must be that likes
to dwell in the bowels of a mountain--more especially of one whose
entrails are mostly of liquid fire. But of this also more fully

In addition to the solid materials thrown out by volcanoes, there
are sometimes poured forth torrents of boiling water and liquid
mud. More frequently, however, the water issues in the form of vast
columns of steam and sulphurous vapour. These ascend to great
heights in the air, and becoming gradually chilled, they form
immense masses of dark heavy clouds, similar to those we observe
before a thunderstorm. Nor is this resemblance apparent only. For
the clouds that overhang an active volcano during an eruption of
its vapours are, in reality, thunderclouds highly charged with
electricity. They accordingly produce what Baron Humboldt calls the
volcanic storm. It includes all the most terrible of atmospheric
phenomena--lightnings of extraordinary vividness; thunders that
peal and reverberate as if they would rend the echoes asunder;
torrents of rain that pour down upon the mountain and its
neighbourhood, hissing like thousands of serpents when they fall on
the glowing lava-torrent; and whirlwinds that sweep the volcanic
ashes round and round in vast eddies, and before whose violence no
man of mortal mould is able for a moment to stand.

Beyond and above this din of contending elements are heard the
hoarse bellowings of the mountain itself, which, meanwhile,
trembles to its very core. The detonations from the volcano far
exceed in loudness any other earthly noise. Compared with these,
the pealing of the loudest thunder is but as the report of a musket
contrasted with the simultaneous discharge of a thousand pieces of
heavy ordnance. The explosions of Tomboro, and the vibrations
accompanying them, have been heard and felt at almost incredible
distances. Judge, then, of the immensity of the forces which are
thus brought into play, and the overwhelming grandeur of the scene
which such an eruption, with all its accompaniments of storm and
tempest, must present to the bewildered eye and ear. Even to read
of it sends a thrill through the nerves: what, then, must it be to
listen and behold?

So far do we dwell from the nearest volcanoes, and so little are we
familiar with the names except of a few, that not many persons are
aware of the large number of burning mountains on the face of our
globe. The total number, however, of those which are known to have
been active within historic times is fully two hundred. Of these,
the most familiar to us for its classic fame and its restless
activity is Mount Vesuvius, which stands alone in its grandeur on
the continent of Europe. The most violent in its activity is
Tomboro, in the island of Sumbáwa. The highest is Cotopaxi, in the
range of the Andes, which rises far into the region of perpetual
snow. Its height is 16,800 feet above the level of the sea. Strange
it seems, that volcanic fires should glow at such a height in the
midst of snow and ice. But in this particular Cotopaxi does not
stand alone. The Peak of Teneriffe, Mount Etna, and several others,
also rise above the snow-line; while the burning mountains of
Iceland, Greenland, and Kamtschatka, with those which rear their
heads in the frozen regions near the South Pole, are for the most
part enveloped in ice and snow from head to foot.

Before proceeding to describe to you some of the more interesting
of the individual volcanoes and volcanic groups, it may be well to
let you into a secret worth knowing. You would doubtless like to
have a volcano all to yourself. Here is the receipt: Buy several
pounds of clean iron filings, and a somewhat larger quantity of the
flowers of sulphur. Mix the two together and knead them well with
water into a stiffish paste. Then wrap this pudding in a cloth, and
put another cloth about it, which has been smeared with common or
coal-tar. Dig a hole in some quiet corner of your garden, pop your
dumpling into it, and cover it well up with earth, treading it down
firmly with your feet. Not many hours will elapse before you will
see the ground swell like a molehill; an eruption will ensue, and
you will be the happy possessor of a Stromboli of your own!


Volcanoes of Iceland--Mount Hecla--Earliest Eruption--Great
Eruption in 1845--Skaptàr Yökul--Terrible Eruption in 1783--Rise
and Disappearance of Nyoë--Katlugaia--The Geysers--A very hot Bath
--Californian Geysers--Iceland-spar--Jan Mayen

We shall begin with the volcanoes of Iceland, of which the most
interesting and active is Mount Hecla. The annexed woodcut will
give you an idea of its appearance. You will observe the column of
volcanic vapour ascending from the snow-clad summit of the cone,
and how dreary and desolate is the aspect of the country at its

The earliest recorded eruption of Mount Hecla took place in the
ninth century of the Christian era; but probably there had been
many before that date. Since then there have been between twenty
and thirty considerable eruptions of this mountain, and it has
sometimes remained in a state of activity for upwards of six years
with little intermission. It took a long rest, however, of more
than sixty years' duration, prior to the year 1845, when it again
burst forth. After a violent storm on the night of the 2nd of
September in that year, the surface of the ground in the Orkney
Islands was found strown with volcanic dust. There was thus
conveyed to the inhabitants of Great Britain an intimation that
Hecla had been again at work. Accordingly, tidings soon after
arrived of a great eruption of the mountain. On the night of the
1st of September, the dwellers in its neighbourhood were terrified
by a fearful underground groaning, which continued till mid-day on
the 2nd. Then, with a tremendous crash, there were formed in the
sides of the cone two large openings, whence there gushed torrents
of lava, which flowed down two gorges on the flanks of the
mountain. The whole summit was enveloped in clouds of vapour and
volcanic dust. The neighbouring rivers became so hot as to kill the
fish, and the sheep fled in terror from the adjoining heaths, some
being burnt before they could escape.

On the night of the 15th of September, two new openings were
formed--one on the eastern, and the other on the southern slope--from
both of which lava was discharged for twenty-two hours. It
flowed to a distance of upwards of twenty miles, killing many
cattle and destroying a large tract of pasturage. Twelve miles from
the crater, the lava-stream was between forty and fifty feet deep
and nearly a mile in width. On the 12th of October a fresh torrent
of lava burst forth, and heaped up another similar mass. The
mountain continued in a state of activity up to April 1846; then it
rested for a while, and began again in the following month of
October. Since then, however, it has enjoyed repose.

The effects of these eruptions were disastrous. The whole island
was strown with volcanic ashes, which, where they did not smother
the grass outright, gave it a poisonous taint. The cattle that ate
of it were attacked by a murrain, of which great numbers died. The
ice and snow, which had gathered about the mountain for a long
period of time, were wholly melted by the heat. Masses of pumice
weighing nearly half a ton were thrown to a distance of between
four and five miles.

[Illustration:  Mount Hecla]

Mount Hecla is not the only volcano in Iceland. There are several
others; and from one of them, named Skaptàr Yökul, there was, in
the year 1783, an eruption still more violent than that from Hecla
above described. It began on the 8th of June, and raged with little
abatement till the end of August, whence onward it continued, but
with less violence, till the following year. The lava, in this
case, poured from numerous openings; but these rivulets ultimately
united themselves into two large currents, which flowed onwards to
the sea. In their progress, these burning torrents filled up the
beds of two considerable rivers. The greater of the two streams,
after it had ceased to flow and had become a solid mass of rock,
measured fifty miles in length, and between twelve and fifteen
miles in breadth. Its average depth on the plains was about a
hundred feet; but in the bed of the river, which it had filled, it
was not less than six hundred feet. The snow and ice, which had
previously covered the mountain, were not only melted, but the
water that flowed from them was raised to the boiling point, and
poured down with destructive effect on the plains. The dust and
ashes thrown into the air darkened the sun; and they were then
strown over the surface of the island, destroying all the pastures,
so that many thousands of cattle, horses, and sheep perished. But
worse than that, upwards of nine thousand persons lost their lives
by this dreadful catastrophe.

About a month before this great eruption of Skaptàr Yökul, a
volcanic island was thrown up from the sea, at a distance of about
seventy miles from Iceland. So great was the quantity of ashes and
dross ejected from its crater, that it overspread the sea to a
distance of a hundred and fifty miles, forming a crust which
obstructed the progress of ships. Portions of this crust floated as
far as the Shetland and Orkney islands. The King of Denmark named
this fiery apparition "Nyoë," or "New Island," and doubtless prided
himself not a little on this addition to his limited dominions.
But, alas, for human ambition! About a year after the date of its
first appearance, Nyoë sank into the depths out of which it arose,
and its position is now marked only by a moderate shoal.

It is not by their ejected lavas alone that the volcanoes of
Iceland produce their destructive effects. Disastrous consequences
have frequently resulted from the sudden melting of their snows and
glaciers, on which the volcanic fires operate far more rapidly than
does the heat of the sun. It is chiefly by the vast quantities of
earth, sand, stones, and broken fragments of rock, which they hurry
along with them in their wild career, that the waters, so suddenly
freed, produce the greatest amount of damage. During an eruption of
Katlugaia, one of the southern Icelandic volcanoes, in 1756, the
mass of material thus carried down by the melted snows and glaciers
was so great, that, advancing several leagues into the sea, it
formed three parallel promontories, which rose above the sea-level,
where there had formerly been a depth of forty fathoms of water.
Vast ravines were, at the same time, scooped out of the sides of
the mountain by the erosion of the waters. Another eruption of this
volcano in 1860 produced similar results.

Still more interesting than the volcanic mountains of Iceland are
its Geysers, or intermittent springs of boiling water. The chief of
these is the Great Geyser. A jet rises to a vast height, and is
accompanied by much steam. Indeed, it is quite at the boiling-point.

The little mound, from the top of which the jet appears to rise, is
composed of a substance named siliceous sinter, and is a deposit
from the water of the fountain. At the top of this mound, which is
between six and seven feet in height, there is an oval basin,
measuring about fifty-six feet in one direction, and about forty-six
in the other; its average depth is about three feet. In the
centre of this basin is a round hole, about ten feet in diameter,
out of which the water springs. This hole is the mouth of a
circular well, between seventy and eighty feet in depth. It is down
this well that the jet retires on its disappearance; and it drags
along with it all the water out of the basin, leaving both basin
and well quite empty, without even a puff of steam coming out of
the hole. In this state of emptiness the basin and well remain for
several hours. Suddenly the water begins to rise in the well,
overflowing till it fills the basin. Loud explosions are heard from
below, and the ground trembles. Then, with amazing violence, up
springs a vast column of boiling water, surmounted by clouds of
steam, which obscure the air. This first jet is followed by several
others in rapid succession, to the number of sixteen or eighteen;
the last jet being usually the greatest of all, and attaining a
height of nearly a hundred feet. In some instances it has risen to
a height of a hundred and fifty feet; and one particular jet was
measured which rose to the amazing height of two hundred and twelve

The action of the fountain seldom continues more than about five
minutes at a time, and then a repose of several hours ensues. If
left to itself, the periods of the fountain's activity, though not
quite regular, generally recur at intervals of six or seven hours.
But they may be hastened by throwing big stones down the well. This
not only hurries the eruption of the jet, but increases its energy,
and the stones are thrown out with great force by the column of
boiling water; the loudness of the explosions being also
considerably augmented.

There are several other geysers in the island besides this big one.
Their jets are smaller, but to compensate this deficiency, they are
more frequent in their ascent; so that travellers who are too
impatient to await the eruptions of the Great Geyser, content
themselves with visiting the little ones.

Would it not be very convenient to live near a geyser? We might
have our victuals cooked by it, and have pipes led from it all
round our house, to keep us comfortable in winter; and we might
have nice hot baths in our dressing-rooms, arid even a little
steam-engine to roast our meat and grind our coffee. But perhaps
you may think it might not be altogether pleasant to be kept so
continually in hot water.

Were any of the water from the geyser to fall on your hands, you
would doubtless feel it rather sore; still more so, were you to be
so rash as to thrust your hand fairly into the jet of boiling
water, as it ascends into the air. Nevertheless, strange as it may
seem, it would be possible for you, without feeling any pain or
sustaining any injury, to thrust your hand right into the glowing
lava as it flows from the crater of Hecla. The only precaution
needful to be observed, is first to plunge the hand into cold
water, and then dry it gently with a soft towel, but so as to leave
it still a little moist. This discovery was made by a French
philosopher, M. Boutigny, and has been practically proved both by
him and M. Houdin, the celebrated conjuror, by thrusting their
hands into molten iron, as it flowed from the furnace. The latter
describes the sensation as like what one might imagine to be felt
on putting the hand into liquid velvet.[1] The reason why this
experiment proves so harmless is that between the skin and the
glowing substance there is formed a film of vapour, which acts as a
complete protection. It is this elastic cushion of vapour which
imparts that feeling of softness described by M. Houdin; for it is
with it alone that the hand comes into contact.

[1. Houdin's Autobiography, ii 270]

Geysers have been recently discovered in California; but the jets
do not rise higher than twenty or thirty feet. They are, however,
very numerous, there being upwards of a hundred openings within a
space of half a mile square. The vapour from the whole group rises
to upwards of a hundred and fifty feet into the air. The boiling
water issues from conical mounds, with great noise. The whole
ground around them is a mere crust, and when it is penetrated the
boiling water is seen underneath. The Californian geysers, however,
are impregnated, not with silica, like those of Iceland, but with
sulphur, of which they form large deposits. The sulphurous vapours
from the water corrode the rocks near the fountains; nevertheless
trees grow, without injury to their health, at a distance from them
of not more than fifty feet.

Besides obsidian, already mentioned as a product of its volcanoes,
Iceland is famed for another mineral of great scientific value. It
is that fine variety of carbonate of lime named Iceland-spar.
Transparent and colourless, like glass, this mineral possesses the
property of double refraction--any small object viewed through it
in a particular direction appearing double. It is much used for
optical purposes--especially for obtaining polarized light.

There is another volcano lying far to the northward of Iceland. It
is in the island of Jan Mayen, off the coast of Greenland, and has
on its summit a vast crater, 2000 feet in diameter, and 500 in


Mount Vesuvius--Origin of Name--Former Condition--Eruption of A D
79--Death of Pliny--Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum--Appearance
of the Mountain before and after Eruption--Formation of
Monte Nuovo--Eruption of Boiling Water--Coloured Vapours--Cascade
of Lava--Discovery of Remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii--The
Buildings of Pompeii--Street of Tombs--Skeletons--Sundry Shops--Ascents
of Vesuvius--Crater--Temple of Serapis.

Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the continent of
Europe, and it is highly interesting both from its historical
associations and the frequency of its eruptions. It is situated on
the coast of the Bay of Naples, about six miles to the eastward of
the city and at a short distance from the shore. It forms a
conspicuous feature in the beautiful landscape presented by that
bay, when viewed from the sea, with the city in the foreground.

Mount Vesuvius was in ancient times held sacred to the deified hero
Hercules, and the town of Herculaneum, built at its base, was named
after him. So also, it is said, was the mountain itself, though in
a more round-about way. Hercules, as you will doubtless learn, was
feigned to have been the son of the heathen god Zeus and Alcmena, a
Theban lady. Now one of the appellations of Zeus was Υης,
which was applied to him as being the god of rains and dews--the
wet divinity. Thus Hercules was Υησουυιος, the son of Ves. How
this name should have become corrupted into "Vesuvius," you can be
at no loss to perceive.

Vesuvius was not always a volcano. It was for many ages a very
peaceable and well-behaved mountain. Ancient writers describe it as
having been covered with gardens and vineyards, except at the top
which was craggy. Within a large circle of nearly perpendicular
cliffs, was a flat space sufficient for the encampment of an army.
This was doubtless an ancient crater; but nobody in those times
knew anything of its history. So little was the volcanic nature of
the mountain suspected, that the Roman towns of Stabiæ, Pompeii,
and Herculaneum had been erected at its base, and their inhabitants
dwelt in fancied security.

In the year A.D. 63, however, the dwellers in the cities got a
great fright; for the mountain shook violently, and a good many
houses were thrown down. But soon all became quiet again, and the
people set about rebuilding the houses that had fallen. They
continued to live in apparent safety for some time longer. They
danced, they sung, they feasted; they married, and were altogether
as merry a set of citizens as any in southern Italy. But the 24th
of August A.D. 79 at length arrived. Then, woe to Stabiæ! woe to
Pompeii! woe to Herculaneum!

Pliny the elder was that day in command of the Roman fleet at
Misenum, which was not far off. His family were with him, and,
among others, his nephew, Pliny the younger, who has left an
interesting account of what happened on the occasion. He observed
an extraordinary dense cloud ascending in the direction of
Vesuvius, of which he says:--"I cannot give you a more exact
description of its figure, than by resembling it to that of a pine
tree; for it shot up to a great height in the form of a tall trunk,
which spread out at the top into a sort of branches. It appeared
sometimes bright, and sometimes dark and spotted, as it was either
more or less impregnated with earth and cinders"

On seeing this remarkable appearance, the elder Pliny, who was a
great naturalist and a man of inquiring mind, resolved to go ashore
and inspect more narrowly what was going on. But a rash resolve it
proved. Steering towards Retina (now Resina), a port at the foot of
the mountain, he was met, on his approach, by thick showers of hot
cinders, which grew thicker and hotter as he advanced--falling on
the ships along with lumps of pumice and pieces of rock, black but
burning hot. Vast fragments came rolling down the mountain and
gathered in heaps upon the shore. Then the sea began suddenly to
retreat, so that landing at this point became impracticable. He
therefore steered for Stabiæ, where he landed, and took up his
abode with Pomponianus--an intimate friend.

Meanwhile, flames appeared to issue from several parts of the
mountain with great violence--the darkness of the night heightening
their glare. Pliny nevertheless went to sleep. Soon, however, the
court leading to his chamber became almost filled with stones and
ashes; so his servants awoke him, and he joined Pomponianus and his
household. The house now began to rock violently to and fro; while
outside, stones and cinders were falling in showers. They,
notwithstanding, thought it safer to make their way out from the
tottering mansion; so, tying pillows upon their heads with napkins,
they sallied forth. Although it was now day, the darkness was
deeper than that of the blackest night. By the aid of torches and
lanterns, however, they groped their way towards the beach, with a
view to escape by sea; but they found the waves too high and
tumultuous. Here Pliny, having drunk some cold water, lay down upon
a sailcloth which was spread for him; when almost immediately
flames, preceded by a strong smell of sulphur, issuing from the
ground, scattered the company and forced him to rise. With the help
of two of his servants he succeeded in raising himself; but, choked
by some noxious vapour, he instantly fell down dead.

[Illustration:  Vesuvius Before the Eruption of A.D. 79.]

Nor was he alone in his death; for although many of the inhabitants
of the devoted cities were able to effect their escape; yet, so
suddenly did the overwhelming shower of ashes, cinders, and stones
fall upon them, that not a few of them perished in their dwellings
or their streets. As for the cities themselves, they were utterly
buried completely out of sight, and, like other things that are
long out of sight, they soon became also buried out of mind. For
many centuries they remained entirely forgotten.

You will doubtless like to know how Vesuvius looked, after doing so
much mischief. Here is a picture showing what like it was
immediately before the eruption; and one showing its appearance
soon after the event. On comparing the two, you will observe the
mountain had undergone a great change. It was no longer flat on the
top, but had formed for itself a large cone, from the summit of
which dense vapours ascended. This cone was composed entirely of
the ashes, cinders, and loose stones, thrown up during the
eruption. It had become separated by a deep ravine from the
remainder of the former summit, which afterwards came to be
distinguished by the name Monte Somma. The whole of the forests,
vineyards, and other luxuriant vegetation, which had covered that
portion of the sides of Vesuvius where the eruption took place,
were destroyed. Nothing could be more striking than the contrast
between the beautiful appearance of the mountain before this
catastrophe, and its desolate aspect after the sad event. This
remarkable contrast forms the subject of one of Martial's Epigrams,
lib. iv. Ep. 44. It is thus rendered by Mr. Addison:--

[Illustration:  Vesuvius after the Eruption of A.D. 79.]

     "Vesuvius covered with the fruitful vine
      Here flourished once, and ran with floods of wine.
      Here Bacchus oft to the cool shades retired,
      And his own native Nysa less admired.
      Oft to the mountain's airy tops advanced,
      The frisking Satyrs on the summit danced.
      Alcides [1] here, here Venus graced the shore,
      Nor loved her favourite Lacedaemon more.
      Now piles of ashes, spreading all around,
      In undistinguished heaps deform the ground.
      The gods themselves the ruined seats bemoan,
      And blame the mischiefs that themselves have done."

[1. Hercules]

Since the eruption of A.D. 79, Vesuvius has had many fits of
activity with intervals of rest. In A.D. 472, it threw out so great
a quantity of ashes, that they overspread all Europe, and filled
even Constantinople with alarm. In A.D. 1036 occurred the first
eruption in which there was any ejection of lava. This eruption was
followed by five others, the last of which occurred in 1500. To
these succeeded a long rest of about a hundred and thirty years,
during which the mountain had again become covered with gardens and
vineyards as of old. Even the inside of the crater had become
clothed with shrubbery.

In this interval, however, there was an extraordinary eruption--not
of Vesuvius itself, but at no great distance from it, in the Bay of
Baiæ, on the opposite shore of the Bay of Naples. The whole of
this neighbourhood is a volcanic country, and was anciently named
the Phlegræan Fields. It contains a crater in a state of subdued
activity, called the Solfatara; an extinct volcano having a large
crater called Monte Barbaro; and Lake Avernus, also supposed to be
an extinct volcanic crater. Between Monte Barbaro and the sea,
there was formerly a fiat piece of ground bordering on the Lucrine
Lake, which is separated from the Bay of Baiæ by a narrow strip of
shingle. On the 29th of September 1538, the flat piece of ground
above mentioned became the scene of a great eruption, which
resulted in the throwing up of a new elevation to the height of
four hundred and thirteen feet, and with a circumference of eight
thousand feet. It received the name of Monte Nuovo, and is now
covered with a luxuriant vegetation.

In 1631 there was another dreadful eruption of Mount Vesuvius,
which covered with lava most of the villages at the foot of the
mountain. To add to the calamity, torrents of boiling water were,
on this occasion, thrown out by the volcano, producing awful

There have been since that time numerous eruptions, which it would
be tedious to mention in detail; but two of them are worthy of
notice. During an eruption in February 1848, a column of vapours
arose from the crater about forty feet high, presenting a variety
of colours; and a short time afterwards there arose ten circles,
which were black, white, and green, and which ultimately assumed
the form of a cone. A similar appearance had been observed in 1820.
More recently, in May 1855, a great stream of glowing lava, about
two hundred feet in breadth, flowed towards a vast ravine nearly a
thousand feet in depth. The first descent into this chasm is a
sheer precipice, over which the lava dashed heavily, forming a
magnificent cascade of liquid fire.

Of the buried cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii no traces were
discovered till the year 1713, when some labourers, in digging a
well, came upon the remains of Herculaneum about twenty-four feet
underground. Little attention, however, was paid to the discovery
at that time; but in 1748 a peasant, digging in his vineyard,
stumbled on some ancient works of art. On sinking a shaft at this
spot to the depth of twelve feet, the remains of Pompeii were
found. This discovery led to further researches, and the exact
positions of the two cities were erelong ascertained. The work of
disinterment has continued with little interruption from that to
the present time, and many valuable specimens of ancient art have
been brought to light.

The greatest progress has been made at Pompeii; because the stuff,
in which it was buried, is far looser than that which covers
Herculaneum. In the former city, although it was anciently reckoned
only a third-rate place, there have already been discovered eight
temples, a forum, a basilica, two theatres, a magnificent
amphitheatre, and public baths. The ramparts, composed of huge
blocks of stone, have also been exposed. One of the most remarkable
places is the Cemetery. It consists of a broad path covered with
pavement, and bordered on either side with stately monuments,
placed over the tombs of the wealthy citizens of the place, and in
which whole families have been interred.

The houses were found filled with elegant furniture, the walls of
the apartments adorned with beautiful paintings. Numerous statues,
vases, lamps, and other elegant works of art, have been recovered.
Many skeletons have also been found, in the exact positions in
which the living men were caught by the deadly shower of
suffocating ashes. The excavators came upon the skeleton of a
miser, who had been attempting to escape from his house, and whose
bony fingers were still clutching the purse which contained the
treasure he loved. There were also found in the barracks at Pompeii
the skeletons of two soldiers chained to the stocks; and the
writings scribbled by the soldiers on the walls are still quite
legible. In the vaults of a villa in the suburbs were discovered
the skeletons of seventeen persons, who had probably sought refuge
there, and been entombed. The stuff in which they were imbedded had
been originally soft, but had become hardened through time. In this
substance was found a cavity, containing the skeleton of a female
with an infant in her arms. Although nothing but the bones
remained, the cavity contained a perfect cast of the woman's
figure--thus showing that she must have been imbedded in the
substance while alive. Round the neck of this skeleton there was a
gold chain, and on the fingers jewelled rings.

In many of the houses the names of the owners over the doors are
still legible, and the fresco-paintings on the inner walls are
still quite fresh and beautiful. The public fountains are adorned
with shells formed into patterns; and in the room of a painter
there was found a collection of shells in perfectly good order. A
large quantity of fishing-nets was found in both the cities, and in
Herculaneum some pieces of linen retaining its texture. There also
was discovered a fruiterer's shop, with vessels full of almonds,
chestnuts, carubs, and walnuts. In another shop stood a glass
vessel containing moist olives, and a jar with caviare--the
preserved roe of the sturgeon. In the shop of an apothecary stood a
box that had contained pills, now reduced to powder, which had been
prepared for a patient destined never to swallow them--a happy
circumstance for him, if he eventually escaped from the city. Very
recently there has been laid open a baker's shop, with the loaves
of bread on the shelves, all ready for his customers, but doomed
never to be eaten. These loaves are of the same form as those still
made in that country, and on being analyzed were found to consist
of the same ingredients as modern bread.

Mount Vesuvius rises rather abruptly from the plain on which it
stands. The circuit of the base is about twelve miles, and the
height of the summit above the level of the sea about three
thousand feet. This latter measurement, however, alters from time
to time, owing to the variable height of the cone. Its moderate
elevation, and the ease with which it may be approached, have
induced many travellers to ascend the mountain; and not a few have
recorded their experiences. So frequent are the eruptions of the
volcano, however, and so much do they change the aspect of the
crater, that any description remains correct for only a limited

Within the last hundred years the crater has been five times wholly
altered, in consequence of its interior having been completely
blown out, and its walls having crumbled down. When Sir William
Hamilton ascended the mountain in 1756, it had no less than three
craters and cones, one within another. The outermost was a very
wide-mouthed cone. Within it rose centrically another, smaller in
size and narrower in the mouth; and within that again was the third
and highest, having a smaller base and still narrower opening at
the top, whence the greatest volume of vapour ascended. In 1767
this innermost cone merged in the second, which was greatly
enlarged; and by a subsequent eruption the interval between the
first and second was obliterated, so that only a single cone
remained. In 1822 the whole interior of the cone was blown out, and
its walls crumbled down, so as to lower the height of the mountain
several hundred feet. But within the vast gulf, nearly a mile in
diameter, which was thus left yawning open, there soon began to be
formed a new cone, which showed itself erelong above the jagged
edge of the crater. Eventually this cone increased, by the
accumulation of ejected matters, to such an extent as to obliterate
the division between it and the rim of the former crater--thus once
more establishing a continuous cone. Since that time, the cone and
crater have twice undergone similar changes.

The most usual appearance of the crater, when in comparative
repose, is that of a vast circular or oval hollow basin, with
nearly perpendicular walls, broken in their continuity, every here
and there, by large projecting dykes, formed by the injection of
more recent lavas into fissures rent in those which had previously
become consolidated. Below the perpendicular walls is a rapid
slope, composed of fine ashes or sand, descending to the floor of
the crater, which is, for the most part, nearly flat. It is much
rent by fissures, which during the night are seen to glow with a
ruddy glare, emanating from the hot materials beneath, and giving
to the floor the appearance of being overspread with a fiery
tissue, like a spider's web. From the bottom there usually rise one
or two small craters of eruption, whence continually issue
sulphurous fumes, and which, at pretty regular intervals, discharge
showers of stones heated to whiteness.

The exterior of the cone is composed entirely of loose cinders,
ashes, and stones, so that the ascent is very laborious. The region
of the mountain beneath the cone presents no difficulties, and that
part of the ascent may be performed on donkeys or mules. The view
from the top is magnificent. The contrast between the desolate
aspect of the interior of the crater, and the smiling prospect
which may be seen from its edge, has been well compared to looking
out of Tartarus into Paradise.

Near Puzzuoli, in the Bay of Baiæ, and not far from Monte Nuovo,
stand the ruins of the Temple of Serapis, so interesting to
geologists. These remains, consisting chiefly of the shafts of
three marble columns, still erect, though with a slight inclination
sea-ward, afford distinct proofs, confirmed by other phenomena in
the neighbourhood, that, since the beginning of the Christian era,
the level of the coast in relation to that of the sea has changed
twice--the land having first sunk and been then raised again, each
time to the extent of upwards of 20 feet. The evidence of the
submergence of the pillars consists mainly of a zone commencing at
the height of about 12 feet above their pedestals, and extending 9
feet upwards, in which are numerous perforations, made by a marine
bivalve mollusc. The upraising again of the ground on which the
temple stands, to nearly its original height, appears to have
occurred about the time of the formation of Monte Nuovo.


Mount Etna--Its Appearance and Height-Ancient Eruptions-Pindar's
Allusion--Virgil's Description--Subordinate Cones and
Craters--Caverns--Val del Bove--Formation of Monti Rossi--Eruption
of 1852--Whirlwinds--Lava Torrents--Cascades of Lava--Description
of Crater --Empedocles--Enceladus--Craters of 1865-Cyclopean
Isles--Homer's Legend-Volcanic Origin--Other Basaltic Groups

Mount Etna may well be called the Queen of European Volcanoes, so
majestic does she look, with her lofty summit glistening in the
sunbeams white with snow, yet pouring forth volumes of vapour. This
mountain, as you will observe from the annexed woodcut, is
altogether more massive in its appearance than Vesuvius. It is
about three times higher, rising to nearly eleven thousand feet
above the level of the sea, and it has a circuit of about
eighty-seven miles at its base.

Etna has been a volcano from time immemorial; but of its more
ancient eruptions only vague traditions have survived. The Greek
poet Pindar is the earliest writer who makes mention of its
activity. He refers to it in his first Pythian Ode, Strophe B, 1.
1. The passage is thus rendered by Carey--

     "From whose caverned depths aspire,
      In purest folds upwreathing, tost
      Fountains of approachless fire--
      by day a flood of smouldering smoke
      With sullen gleam the torrents pour"

[Illustration:  Mount Etna.]

The ode in which this allusion occurs is said to have been written
about B.C. 470; and the eruption to which it refers probably took
place shortly before that date.

Virgil also describes the mountain very forcibly in the Æneid,
lib. iii. 570. Dryden renders the passage thus:--

     "The port capacious, and secure from wind,
      Is to the foot of thund'ring Etna joined.
      By turns a pitchy cloud she rolls on high:
      By turns hot embers from her entrails fly,
      And flakes of mounting flames, that lick the sky.
      Oft from her bowels massy rocks are thrown,
      And shivered by the force come piece-meal down.
      Oft liquid lakes of burning sulphur flow,
      Fed from the fiery springs that boil below."

Since the one to which Pindar alludes, there have been recorded
about sixty eruptions; but in the present century Etna has been
less frequently active than Vesuvius.

Owing to the great height of Mount Etna, the lava seldom rises so
far as to flow from the summit. It more frequently bursts forth
from the flanks of the mountain; and in this manner there have been
formed numerous smaller cones, of which several have craters of
their own. Hence Etna is rather a group of volcanoes than a single
cone; but all these subordinate volcanic hills cluster round the
flanks of the great central summit. Etna may thus be regarded as a
fertile mother of mountains, with all her children around her. Some
of these hills, her offspring, are covered with forests and rich
vegetation--such having enjoyed a lasting repose. Others are still
arid and bare, having been more recently formed. Owing to this
peculiarity in its structure, Etna does not present that conical
aspect which characterizes most other volcanoes. Strange as it may
seem, there are, on the sides of the mountain, caverns which the
Sicilians use for storing ice. Some of these caverns are of vast
extent. One called Fossa della Palomba measures, at its entrance,
625 feet in circumference, and has a depth of about 78 feet. This
great cavity, however, forms merely the vestibule to a series of
others, which are perfectly dark.

Another striking feature of Mount Etna is the Val del Bove. It is a
deep valley, presenting, when viewed from above, somewhat of the
appearance of an amphitheatre, It stretches from near the summit
down to the upper limit of the wooded region of the mountain, and
has a remarkably desolate aspect--presenting a vast expanse of bare
and rugged lava.

Of the numerous eruptions of Etna, one of the most memorable was
that of 1669, when on the flank of the mountain above Nicolosi,
about half way between Catania and the top of the great crater,
there was formed an immense rent about twelve miles long, from
which a vast torrent of lava descended. After flowing for several
miles, and destroying a part of Catania in its course, it entered
the sea, and formed a small promontory, which has since proved very
useful as a breakwater. But besides this stream, there were at the
same time thrown up such immense quantities of ashes, cinders,
stones, and other matters, that they formed two conical hills, more
than three hundred feet in height above the slope of the mountain
from which they rose, and measuring nearly two miles in
circumference at their base. These hills were named Monti Rossi.

Mount Etna was in activity as lately as 1865; but a previous
eruption in 1852 was of greater violence. It began, as usual, with
hollow underground rumblings, and the ascent of dense columns of
vapour, mingled with dust and ashes, high into the air. These were
speedily whirled into enormous eddies by fierce whirlwinds. Two new
mouths were formed on the side of the mountain, and these vomited
forth immense streams of lava, which rushed with the vehemence of a
torrent down the steep. The violence of the commotion increasing,
the two mouths were, by the crumbling of the intervening rocks,
blended into one, and then huge fragments of the broken rock were
hurled to a great height, along with vast quantities of hot stones,
cinders, and black sand. Increasing quantities of lava were now
poured from the greatly enlarged opening, and these formed on the
plains below a great river of liquid fire, nearly two miles in
breadth, and between seven and eight feet in depth, which advanced
at the rate of upwards of a hundred feet in an hour, carrying
before it devastation and ruin. Its course being through a highly
cultivated country, the damage it inflicted was immense. This
eruption continued for several months, with only short intervals of

[Illustration:  Crater of Etna.]

It has more than once happened, that the lava-streams of Etna, in
their descent from the crater of eruption, have come to a
precipitous wall of rock, over which they have plunged in a cascade
similar to that formed by the lava of Vesuvius in 1855, but on a
less magnificent scale, as respects the height of the fall. One of
these occasions was during the eruption of 1771, and another during
that of 1819.

The principal cone of Mount Etna was ascended in 1834 by Messrs.
Elie de Beaumont and Leopold von Buch. The former describes what
they saw in the following terms:--"It was to us a moment of
surprise difficult to describe, when we found ourselves
unexpectedly on the margin--not, indeed, of the great crater--but
of an almost circular gulf, nearly three hundred feet in diameter,
which does not touch the great crater save at a small part of its
circumference. We peered eagerly into this nearly cylindrical
funnel; but vain was our search into the secret of its volcanic
action. From the almost horizontal tops of the nearly vertical
steeps, nothing can be descried but the upper cone. On trying to
reckon those one below another, vision becomes gradually lost in
the perfect darkness beneath. No sound issues from this darkness.
There are only exhaled slightly sulphurous white vapours, chiefly
steam. The dismal aspect of this black and silent gulf, in which
our view was lost--its dark moist sides, along which crept, in a
languid and monotonous manner, long flakes of vapour of a sombre
gray--the great crater to which this narrow gulf is attached, with
its confused heap of diverse substances, coloured yellow, gray,
red, like the image of chaos--all presented around us an aspect
quite funereal and sepulchral."

The French geologist, in having escaped from his visit to the
crater with nothing worse than a fit of the vapours, came off
better than Empedocles, the Sicilian philosopher, in the days of
old: for, as the story goes, this inquisitive sage, being very
anxious to have a peep into the crater, and venturing too near,
toppled in altogether, and nothing more was seen of him, except one
of his sandals, which was vomited up by the volcano--thus conveying
to his friends an intimation of the manner of his death.

Some incredulous persons allege that this story has no better
foundation than the fable of the poets, that the giant Enceladus,
son of Titan and Terra, having offended Jupiter, the infuriated god
first felled him with a thunderbolt, and then put Mount Etna as a
sort of extinguisher on the top of him--his restlessness underneath
fully accounting for all the commotions of the mountain.

Soon after the eruption which took place towards the end of January
1865, the craters then opened were visited by M. Fouqué, a French
geologist. At the time of his visit, 10th March, they were seven in
number, and he thus describes their modes of action:--

"The three upper craters produced two or three times a minute,
powerful detonations like thunderclaps. The lower craters, on the
contrary, incessantly gave forth a succession of reports too rapid
to be reckoned. These sounds, although unremitting, were clear and
distinct, the one from the other. I can find no better comparison
for them than the strokes of a hammer falling on an anvil. Had the
ancients heard a similar noise, I can readily conceive whence arose
the idea of their imagining a forge in the centre of Etna, with the
Cyclops for workmen."

Off the eastern coast of Sicily, and not far from Mount Etna, lie
the Cyclopean Isles, of one of which the annexed woodcut gives a
representation. You will observe what a singular appearance it
presents, with its rows of basaltic columns piled one above
another. The other isle is close by, and there is an ancient
tradition that they at one time formed part of the mainland of
Sicily. Homer has a curious story about the manner in which they
became detached. The passage occurs towards the end of the ninth
book of the Odyssey. He tells that, at the time Ulysses visited
Sicily, it was inhabited by the Cyclops, who, as already mentioned,
were said to have had each only one eye, situated in his forehead.
Their king's name was Polyphemus, a huge giant who beguiled Ulysses
and a portion of his crew into a cave, where he killed some of the
crew and devoured them for his supper. Ulysses, fearing his turn
might come next, persuaded Polyphemus to taste some strong wine he
had with him, and filled him so tipsy that he fell fast asleep.
While he was in this state, Ulysses burnt out his one eye with a
red-hot iron. The giant awoke in agony, but Ulysses contrived to
escape from his clutches, and, after getting into his ship, began
taunting and jeering the monster. Thereupon Homer says:--

[Illustration:  Cyclopean Isle]

     "These words the Cyclops' burning rage provoke:
      From the tall hill he rends a pointed rock;
      High o'er the billows flew the massy load,
      And near the ship came thund'ring on the flood.
      It almost brushed the helm, and fell before:
      The whole sea shook, and refluent beat the shore."

                                     Pope's _translation_.

The huge missile having thus missed its mark, Ulysses, with great
impudence, renewed his jeers, taunting the giant, and telling him
who it was that had poked out his eye; whereupon Polyphemus invokes
the vengeance of Neptune upon him, and--

     "A larger rock then heaving from the plain,
      He whirled it round--it rung across the main:
      It fell and brushed the stern: the billows roar,
      Shake at the weight, and refluent beat the shore."

                                     Pope's _translation_.

The rocks of which the Cyclopean Isles are composed are entirely of
volcanic origin, and it is far from improbable that they may have
at one time been attached to Sicily, and severed from it by some
great volcanic convulsion. A careful examination of these large
piles of basaltic columns led Dr. Daubeny to the conclusion, that
the lavas from which they have been formed were consolidated under
great pressure, and probably at the bottom of the sea, whence they
have been afterwards upheaved. He also concludes, from certain
appearances, that the two islands were at one time united.

The Cyclopean Isles strongly resemble, in their general aspect, the
well-known Giant's Causeway on the northern coast of Ireland, and
the Isle of Staffa off the western coast of Scotland. The latter,
which, around its whole sea-girt outline, presents ranges of
basaltic columns, some of them disposed in curious fantastic
groups, most nearly resembles the Sicilian pair. These differ from
it chiefly in their having the columns piled in terraces, one above
another. Staffa, however, can boast of a far more striking feature
--the celebrated Cave of Fingal--its stately basaltic columns
inspiring every beholder with admiration, not unmixed with awe,
while its brightly-tinted floor rivals in brilliancy of colouring
the most beautiful mosaics.

In the Island of Iceland, also, there are some remarkable ranges of
basaltic columns. One in particular, named the Ruins of
Dverghamrar, is in the form of a semicircle skirting the sea-coast.
Another group, still more wonderful, forms a curious natural Gothic
arch, surmounted by pinnacles. It is so picturesque that an
architect might study it with advantage, and derive from it
valuable hints in designing the entrance to a cathedral.


Lipan Islands--Stromboli--Origin of Name--Position of
Crater--Description of Crater--New Volcanic Island named
Julia--Phenomena preceding its Elevation--Description of Island
and Crater--Its Disappearance--Rise of Islands at Santorin

The Lipari Islands are all of volcanic origin. The most interesting
among them, for the length of time it has been in action and the
constancy of its activity, is Stromboli. This name is a corruption
of the ancient Greek name Στρογγυλη which was given to it
because of its round swelling form. This is a very fussy little
volcano, for it keeps perpetually puffing, growling, and fuming. It
throws out columns of steam, and at intervals stones, cinders, and
ashes, which are for the most part drifted by the wind into the
sea. This restless volcano has been in almost uninterrupted
activity since at least the third century before the Christian era
--however much further back.

Several enterprising travellers have ascended to the crater of
Stromboli. It was examined with great care in 1828 by M. Hoffmann,
a celebrated Prussian geologist, who, while being held fast by his
companions, leant over the crag immediately above the crater, and
looked right down into one of its active mouths. He thus describes
what he saw:--

"Three active mouths were seen at the bottom of the crater. The
principal one, in the middle, was about two hundred feet in
diameter; it shows nothing remarkable, only fuming slightly; and
numerous yellow incrustations of sulphur coat the walls of its
chimney. Close by this mouth is another, somewhat nearer the
precipice, only twenty feet wide, in which I could observe the play
of the column of liquid lava, which at intervals poised itself at a
level. This lava did not look like a burning mass vomiting flames,
but as glossy as molten metal--like iron issuing from the smelting
furnace, or silver at the bottom of a crucible.

"This melted mass rose and fell--evidently urged by the powerful
tension of elastic vapours pressing it upwards from beneath; and it
was easy to perceive the balance of effect between the weight of
the molten masses and the pressure of the steam which resisted
them. The surface rose and fell rhythmically: there was heard a
peculiar sound, like the crackling of air from bellows entering the
door of a furnace. A bubble of white vapour issued at each crack,
raising the lava, which fell down again immediately after its
escape. These bubbles of vapour dragged to the surface of the lava
red-hot cinders, which danced as if tossed by invisible hands in
rhythmic sport above the brink of the opening.

"This play, so regular and attractive, was interrupted, every
quarter of an hour or so, by more tumultuous movements. The mass of
whirling vapour then rested motionless for a moment--even making a
jerking motion of return, as if inhaled by the crater, from the
bottom of which the lava rose more strongly as if to encounter it.
Then the ground trembles, and the walls of the crater starting
bend. It was quite an earthquake. The mouth of the crater uttered a
loud rolling bellow, which was followed by an immense bubble of
vapour, bursting at the surface of the lava with a loud thundering
report. The whole surface of the lava, reduced to glowing
splinters, was then tossed into the air.

[Illustration:  Julia, or Graham's Island, in August 1831.]

"The heat struck our faces forcibly; while a flaming sheaf rose
right into the air, and fell back in a shower of fire all around.
Some bombs ascended to a height of about 1200 feet, and in passing
over our heads described parabolas of fire. Immediately after such
an eruption, the lava withdrew to the bottom of the chimney, which
then yawned black and gaping. But erelong there was seen re-ascending
the shining mirror of the surface of lava, which then
recommenced the rhythmic play of its ordinary less violent

What an agreeable visit this must have been! Don't you think,
between ourselves, that the German philosopher must, on this
occasion, have greatly resembled an Irishman in love, seeing he was
so eager to reach the mouth of the _crater?_

Before passing on to the description of other existing volcanoes,
it may entertain you to hear something about Julia. This
interesting _crater_ had a short and troubled existence. She
was not born like others of her name, but rose suddenly and
majestically out of the sea, as the poets feign that Venus did of
old. She did not, however, keep her head long above water, but
after raging and fuming for about a couple of months, she plunged
again under the waves. This happened in the year 1831.

On page 57 is a picture showing you how she looked in August of
that year, about a month after she made her appearance. You see
what a fury of a _crater_ she must have been. It was a French
philosopher (Constant Prévost) who christened her Julia; but it is
hard to divine what prompted him to act so ungallantly. Perhaps, at
the moment, he may have had in his eye some Julia of his
acquaintance, with very red hair and a very fiery temper.

This volcanic island rose out of the Mediterranean, about midway
between the Island of Pantellaria and the village of Sciacca on the
southern coast of Sicily. From about the 28th of June to the 2nd of
July 1831, the inhabitants of Sciacca felt several slight shocks,
which they imagined to have proceeded from Etna. On the 8th of July
the crew of a Sicilian ship, which was sailing at a distance of
about six miles from Sciacca, suddenly observed in the sea a jet of
water about 100 feet high. It rose into the air with a thundering
noise, sustained itself for about ten minutes, and then fell down.
Similar jets continued to rise in succession, at intervals of about
a quarter of an hour, and produced a thick mist overspreading the
surface of the sea, which was much agitated and covered with a
reddish scum. Shoals of dead fishes were drifted on the waves. On
the third day the jets were between 800 and 900 feet in diameter,
and between 60 and 70 feet in height, while the steam from them
rose to nearly 1800 feet.

On the 12th of July the inhabitants of Sciacca had their nostrils
assailed by a strong smell of sulphur, and beheld the surface of
the sea covered with black porous cinders, which, being drifted
ashore, formed a bed of some thickness on the beach. So great was
the drift of volcanic ashes, that boats could hardly struggle
through the water, and multitudes of dead fishes floated on its
surface. Next morning they saw rising out of the sea a column of
dark vapour, which, however, towards night became lurid red. From
time to time, during both the day and night, they heard loud
reports, and saw bright sparks of fire through the dusky vapour.

[Illustration:  Julia, or Graham's Island, on 29th September 1831.]

On the 18th of July the captain of the Sicilian ship discovered
that an island had arisen out of the sea at the spot whence the
appearances before described had proceeded. It had already attained
a height of nearly twelve feet, and had in its centre a crater,
which vomited forth immense jets of steam, along with ashes,
cinders, stones, &c. The water which boiled in this crater was
reddish, and the cinders, which covered the sea all round the
island, were of a chocolate colour. The island subsequently
attained a height of upwards of 90 feet at its highest point, and a
circumference of about three-quarters of a mile. A channel of
communication was also opened between the sea and the interior of
the crater, which had a diameter of about 650 feet. The vapours and
other matters thrown up from the mouth of the volcano formed a
luminous column upwards of 200 feet in height.

On the 29th of September it was visited by the French gentleman who
gave it the name of Julia, and it then presented the appearance
which we have sketched. He landed with a party and proceeded to
examine the crater, in which he found a circular basin filled with
reddish water, almost boiling hot, and fresh. This basin was nearly
200 feet in diameter. There rose from the water bubbles of gas,
which made it appear as if it were boiling. The water was not quite
at the boiling point, however, yet the bubbles of gas were
sufficiently hot to burn the fingers.

[Illustration:  Crater of Julia, or Graham's Island.]

These bubbles rose from a great depth, and each, on bursting, which
it did with a feeble report, threw out sand and cinders. At a short
distance from the crater there rose sulphurous vapours, which
deposited sulphur and salt. The loose dust and ashes forming the
soil of the island were hot, and walking on them was difficult. The
foregoing woodcut will give you an idea of the appearance which the
crater presented to those visitors.

In the following month of October nothing remained of this
wonderful island but a hillock of sand and cinders; and at the end
of six months it had quite vanished. Soundings taken a few years
ago show ten feet of water over the spot, so that, although the
island has disappeared, there is still a shoal left behind. This
temporary volcano is best known in England under the name of
Graham's Island; so called after an English naval officer of that
name, who was the first to set foot on it, and who planted upon it
the English flag, so claiming it for his sovereign. The Sicilians
allege this to be the reason why it disappeared so soon--that it
was in a hurry to escape from under the English yoke.

Similar phenomena have been taking place during the past year,
1866, in the Bay of Santorin, situated in the island of that name,
which lies to the northward of Crete. There are several islands in
the bay, all apparently of volcanic origin, and one of them was
thrown up about three centuries before the beginning of the
Christian era. Last year their number was increased by a series of
eruptions similar in their attendant circumstances to those which
accompanied the upheaval of Julia. The first warnings were given on
the 30th of January 1866, by low underground rumblings, and slight
movements of the ground at the south end of New Kammeni, one of the
formerly upheaved islands in the bay. Next day these phenomena
increased in violence, and quantities of gas bubbled up from the
sea. On the 1st of February, reddish flames ascended from the
water, and on the 2nd there rose, out of the harbour of Voulcano,
an island, which was christened "George." The volcanic agitation
was prolonged during February and March--the upheaval of other two
islands being the result. Whether these additional islands will
continue permanently above water remains to be seen.


Peak of Teneriffe--Its Crater--Eruption of Chahorra--Palma--Great
Caldera--Lancerote--Great Eruption--Sudden Death--Fuego, Cape de
Verde Islands--Cotopaxi--Its Appearance--Great Eruptive
Force--Tunguragua--Great Eruption of Mud and Water--Fish thrown
out--Quito--Its Overthrow--Pichinca--Humboldt's Ascent--Narrow

The Island of Teneriffe is celebrated for its magnificent snow-clad
peak. On referring to the woodcut of this volcano at page 11, you
will observe in what a sharp point the cone terminates, and how
slender is the column of vapour at its summit. The crater at the
top is comparatively small--its greatest diameter being 300, and
its smallest 200 feet, while its depth is only about 100 feet. From
this crater there has been no eruption since 1706, when the finest
harbour in the island was destroyed. But from the side of the peak
there rises a supplementary mountain named Chahorra, on the top of
which there is also a crater, whence there was an eruption in 1798.
So great was its violence, that masses of rock were thrown to a
height of upwards of 3000 feet. In the neighbouring island of Palma
there is a volcanic crater named the Great Caldera, whose depth is
said to be upwards of 5000 feet.

Almost due east of Palma, and much nearer the African coast, lies
the Island of Lancerote, on which are a great many volcanic cones,
arranged nearly in a straight line. These were for the most part
formed by a long series of eruptions which took place during the
years from 1730 to 1736. Such immense quantities of lava were
poured forth in the course of those six years, that about a third
of the surface of the island was covered by them, and many towns
and villages were destroyed. St. Catalina, a populous and thriving
town, was first overflowed by a lava-stream, and then a new crater
burst forth on its very site, raising over it a hill 400 feet high.
All the cattle in the island fell down dead in one day, and nearly
about the same time--they were suffocated by deadly vapours that
rose from the ground. The volcanic activity of this island was
renewed in August 1824, when there was formed, near the port of
Rescif, a new crater, which vomited forth such quantities of
stones, ashes, and other volcanic matters, that in the short space
of twenty-four hours they formed a hill of considerable height.

The Cape de Verde Islands, lying to the south-westward of the
Canaries, are also volcanic. In 1847 a volcano named Fuego,
situated in one of them, after remaining at rest about fifty years,
burst into fresh activity. No less than seven new vents were
formed; and from these were poured forth great streams of lava,
which wrought immense damage in the cultivated parts of the island.
The inhabitants sustained great loss by the destruction of their
cattle and crops.

Passing over to the South American continent, we come to the range
of the Andes, which contains numerous volcanoes. Among these the
most conspicuous is Cotopaxi, the highest volcano in the world,
situated in the territory of Quito. So perfect is the form of the
cone, that it looks as if it had been turned in a lathe. Its
coating of snow gives it a dazzling appearance, and so sharply is
the snow-line defined that it seems almost as if the volcano-king
wore a white night-cap instead of a crown.

The eruptions of this mountain are rare. One of the greatest of
them lasted for three years, and desolated an immense extent of
country with floods of lava. On this occasion, it is said, columns
of fire rose to the height of nearly 5000 feet, so great was the
energy of the volcanic force.

A little to the southward of Cotopaxi, but concealed from it by the
intervening mass of Chimborazo, lies the volcano of Tunguragua,
from which there was an extraordinary eruption in the year 1797,
that proved very destructive to the cities in its neighbourhood.
Indeed, so terrible was the convulsion of the ground, which lasted
four minutes, that the cities of Riobamba and Quero were reduced to
heaps of ruins. Then the base of Tunguragua was rent, and from
numerous apertures there were poured out streams of water and mud,
the latter gathering in the valleys to the depth of 600 feet. This
mud spread itself far and wide, blocking up the channels of rivers,
and forming lakes, which remained upwards of two months. But,
strangest of all, quantities of dead fishes were found in the water
which burst from the volcano. These fishes are supposed to have
been bred in subterranean lakes contained in caverns in the
interior of the mountain, considerably removed from the volcanic
fires in the centre. It is probable that, when the rent was formed
near the base, one of those caverns was broken open, and that the
waters from it were discharged along with their finny inhabitants.

Here is a picture of one of those fishes, which was taken by Baron
Humboldt. When you see what a queer-looking fish it is, you will
wonder the less at its having chosen so strange an abode.

[Illustration:  Pimelodus Cyclopum]

Quito, the capital of the province of that name, is the highest of
cities--being situated at an elevation of between nine and ten
thousand feet above the level of the sea. It is built on a plain,
lying on the flanks of the volcano Pichinca, of which a view is
given in the annexed woodcut. Poor Quito has suffered severely from
this dangerous neighbourhood; for, on the 22nd of March 1859, a
violent shaking of the mountain laid the whole city in ruins.

Pichinca, you will observe, has a most irregular outline, but very
graceful withal. Instead of a single cone like Cotopaxi, it has a
group of cones, some of which are very pointed. It has four
principal summits, of which the most southerly contains the active
crater. Here the celebrated traveller Baron Humboldt nearly lost
his life. Having ascended the cone and approached the edge of the
crater, he peered into the depths of the dark abyss, and there
beheld the glowing lava boiling as if in a huge caldron. A thick
mist coming on, he unwarily advanced to within a few feet of the
rapid slope descending into the crater, and was within an ace of
toppling over into the fiery gulf beneath. What a pity it would
have been had he fallen in! We should have had no "Personal
Narrative," no "Cosmos."

[Illustration:  Pichinca]

There are in this region of South America other two great
volcanoes, named Antisana and Sangay. The former has not been in
action since 1718, but is remarkable for the immense beds of lava
which it has amassed around it during its former eruptions. Sangay,
again, has ever since 1728 been in a state of almost perpetual
activity--in this respect resembling Stromboli, which, however, it
far exceeds in height, its summit being nearly 18,000 feet above
the level of the sea. The eruptions of this mountain are
accompanied by loud explosions, which are heard at great distances,
and they succeed each other with immense rapidity. The fumes
emitted are sometimes gray, sometimes orange; and the matters
ejected are cinders, dross, and spherical masses of stone. These
last are often two feet in diameter, and in strong explosions as
many as sixty of them may be thrown out at a time. They are glowing
at a white heat, and for the most part they fall back into the vent
of the crater. Sometimes, however, they alight on the edge of the
cone--imparting to it a temporary brilliancy; but the mass of the
cone, being composed of loose black cinders, has a most dismal

Another very active South American volcano is Rancagua in Chili. It
is, however, of moderate height, and thus in its general character
resembles Stromboli, which it rivals in restlessness. Another of
the volcanoes of Chili, named Chillan, which had long been in a
state of repose, renewed its activity in November 1864. Its usually
snow-clad summit became covered in a short time with a thick layer
of volcanic ashes, which greatly altered its appearance. Streams of
lava were also thrown out by the mountain on this occasion.

There are several volcanoes in Central America. One of them, named
Masaya, was very active during the sixteenth century. It is
situated near the lake of Nicaragua, in the territory of that name.
It was visited in 1529 by the Spanish historian Gonzales Fernando
de Oviedo, from whose description it seems to have presented
phenomena resembling those seen in the crater of Stromboli. "In its
ordinary state," he says, "the surface of the lava, in the midst of
which black scoriae are continually floating, remains several
hundred feet below the edges of the water. But sometimes there is
suddenly produced an ebullition so violent, that the lava rises
almost to the very brim."


Jorullo--Great Monument--Jorullo's Estate--Interruption to his
Quiet--His Estate Swells--Swallows Two Rivers--Throws up
Ovens--Becomes a Burning Mountain--Popocatepetl--Spanish
Ascents--Orizaba --Muller's Ascent--Morne-Garou--Pelée---La

What a fortunate man was Mr. Jorullo! Old Cheops, king of Egypt,
spent vast sums of money, many long years, and the labour of
myriads of his subjects, in erecting the Great Pyramid as a
monument to his memory. But Mr. Jorullo, without his having to lay
down a single Mexican dollar, and without any labour, either of his
own or of his servants, had a magnificent monument raised to his
memory in a single night. Jorullo's monument, too, is far bigger
than the pyramid of Cheops--being nearly four times the height, and
occupying a much larger extent of ground. Whether it will last as
long as the pyramid has done, time only can show.

You would doubtless like to know how this great monument was
reared. Here is the story:--Don Pedro di Jorullo was a Mexican
gentleman who lived about the middle of the last century. He was a
landed proprietor--the owner of a nice little farm of great
fertility, situated to the westward of the city of Mexico, and
about ninety miles from the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The ground
was well watered by artificial means, and produced abundant crops
of indigo and sugar-cane. Thus Mr. Jorullo was a very thriving
well-to-do sort of man.

[Illustration:  Jorullo]

This gentleman's prosperity continued without interruption till the
month of June 1759, when, to the great alarm of his servants
dwelling on the estate, strange underground rumblings were heard,
accompanied by frequent shakings of the ground. These continued for
nearly two months; but at the end of that time all became quiet
again, and Mr. Jorullo's servants slept in fancied security. On the
night of the 28th of September, however, their slumbers were
suddenly broken by a return of the horrible underground
rumblings--thundering more loudly than before. The next night, these
subterranean thunders became so loud, that the Indian servants
started from their beds, and fled in terror to the mountains in the
neighbourhood. Gazing thence, after day had dawned, they beheld to
their astonishment that a tract of ground from three to four square
miles in extent, with their master's farm in the middle of it, had
been upheaved in the shape of an inflated bladder. At the edges
this singular elevation rises only about thirty-nine feet above the
old level of the plain; but so great is the general convexity of
the mound, that towards the centre it swells up to five hundred and
twenty-four feet above the original level.

The Indians affirmed that they saw flames issue from the ground
throughout an extent of more than half a square league, while
fragments of burning rocks were thrown to enormous heights. Thick
clouds of ashes rose into the air, illuminated by glowing fires
beneath; and the surface of the ground seemed to swell into
billows, like those of a tempestuous sea. Into the vast burning
chasms, whence these ejections were thrown, two rivers plunged in
cataracts; but the water only increased the violence of the
eruption. It was thrown into steam with explosive force, and great
quantities of mud and balls of basalt were ejected. On the surface
of the swollen mound there were formed thousands of small cones,
from six to ten feet in height, and sending forth steam to heights
varying from twenty to thirty feet.

Out of a chasm in the midst of these cones, or ovens, as the
natives call them, there rose six large masses, the highest of
which is sixteen hundred feet in height, and constitutes the
volcano of Jorullo. The eruptions of this central volcano continued
till February 1760 with extreme violence--the crater throwing out
large quantities of lava; but in the succeeding years it became
less turbulent in its activity. It still, however, continues to
burn; and the mountain emits from the wide crater at its summit
several jets of vapour. The foregoing woodcut gives a view of this
volcano, and of the little steaming ovens which stud the whole
ground around it, giving it at a distance the appearance of the sea
in a storm. And now confess that Mr. Jorullo's monument is far
grander than the pyramid of Cheops. Surely the loss of his farm was
amply compensated to him, by the perpetuation of his memory and his
name, through the rearing of such a marvellous cenotaph.

For a long time after the first eruption, the ground for a great
distance round the volcano was too hot to be habitable or capable
of cultivation. It is now, however, so much cooled down, that it is
once more covered with vegetation; and even some small portions of
the raised ground containing the ovens have been again brought
under culture.

Besides this volcano, so recent in its origin, Mexico contains
other five--Orizaba, Toluca, Tuxtla, Popocatepetl, and Colima. What
is rather remarkable, these five, together with Jorullo, all lie
nearly in a straight line running east and west. The tracts of
country which these volcanoes have desolated with their lavas are
called by the Mexicans the "Malpays."

The most remarkable of these mountains is Popocatepetl. Although it
has long remained in comparative quiet, it was very active at the
time of the Spanish invasion under Cortés. Of the first approach of
the Spaniards to this volcano, and of the attempts made by some of
them to climb to the top, Mr. Prescott, in his history of the
conquest of Mexico, gives the following graphic account:--

"They were passing between two of the highest mountains on the
North American continent, Popocatepetl, 'the hill that smokes' and
Iztaccihuatl, or 'white woman;' a name suggested, doubtless, by the
bright robe of snow spread over its broad and broken surface. A
puerile superstition of the Indians regarded these celebrated
mountains as gods, and Iztaccihuatl as the wife of her more
formidable neighbour. A tradition of a higher character described
the northern volcano as the abode of the departed spirits of wicked
rulers, whose fiery agonies in their prison-house caused the
fearful bellowings and convulsions in times of eruption. It was the
classic fable of antiquity. These superstitious legends had
invested the mountain with a mysterious horror, that made the
natives shrink from attempting its ascent, which, indeed, was, from
natural causes, a work of incredible difficulty.

"The great _volcan_, as Popocatepetl was called, rose to the
enormous height of 17,852 feet above the level of the sea; more
than 2000 feet above the 'monarch of mountains'--the highest
elevation in Europe. During the present century it has rarely given
evidence of its volcanic origin, and 'the hill that smokes' has
almost forfeited its claim to the appellation. But at the time of
the conquest it was frequently in a state of activity, and raged
with uncommon fury while the Spaniards were at Tlascala; an evil
omen, it was thought, for the natives of Anahuac. Its head,
gathered into a regular cone by the deposit of successive
eruptions, wore the usual form of volcanic mountains, when not
disturbed by the falling in of the crater. Soaring towards the
skies, with its silver sheet of everlasting snow, it was seen far
and wide over the broad plains of Mexico and Puebla; the first
object which the morning sun greeted in his rising, the last where
his evening rays were seen to linger, shedding a glorious
effulgence over its head, that contrasted strikingly with the
ruinous waste of sand and lava immediately below, and the deep
fringe of funereal pines that shrouded its base.

"The mysterious terrors which hung over the spot. and the wild love
of adventure, made some of the Spanish cavaliers desirous to
attempt the ascent, which the natives declared no man could
accomplish and live. Cortés encouraged them in the enterprise,
willing to show the Indians that no achievement was above the
dauntless daring of his followers. One of his captains,
accordingly, Diego Ordaz, with nine Spaniards, and several
Tlascalans, encouraged by their example, undertook the ascent. It
was attended with more difficulty than had been anticipated.

"The lower region was clothed with a dense forest, so thickly
matted, that in some places it was scarcely possible to penetrate
it. It grew thinner, however, as they advanced, dwindling by
degrees into a straggling stunted vegetation, till, at the height
of somewhat more than 13,000 feet, it faded away altogether. The
Indians, who had held on thus far; intimidated by the strange
subterraneous sounds of the volcano, even then in a state of
combustion, now left them. The track opened on a black surface of
glazed volcanic sand and of lava, the broken fragments of which,
arrested in its boiling progress in a thousand fantastic forms,
opposed continual impediments to their advance. Amidst these, one
huge rock, the Pico del Fraile, a conspicuous object from below,
rose to the perpendicular height of 150 feet, compelling them to
take a wide circuit. They soon came to the limits of perpetual
snow, where new difficulties presented themselves, as the
treacherous ice gave an imperfect footing, and a false step might
precipitate them into the frozen chasms that yawned around. To
increase their distress, respiration in these aerial regions became
so difficult, that every effort was attended with sharp pains in
the head and limbs. Still they pressed on, till, drawing nearer the
crater, such volumes of smoke, sparks, and cinders were belched
forth from its burning entrails, and driven down the sides of the
mountain, as nearly suffocated and blinded them. It was too much
even for their hardy frames to endure, and, however reluctantly,
they were compelled to abandon the attempt on the eve of its
completion. They brought back some huge icicles--a curious sight in
those tropical regions--as a trophy of their achievement, which,
however imperfect, was sufficient to strike the minds of the
natives with wonder, by showing that with the Spaniards the most
appalling and mysterious perils were only as pastimes. The
undertaking was eminently characteristic of the bold spirit of the
cavalier of that day, who, not content with the dangers that lay in
his path, seemed to court them from the mere Quixotic love of
adventure. A report of the affair was transmitted to the Emperor
Charles V.; and the family of Ordaz was allowed to commemorate the
exploit by assuming a burning mountain on their escutcheon.

"The general was not satisfied with the result. Two years after he
sent up another party, under Francisco Montano, a cavalier of
determined resolution. The object was to obtain sulphur to assist
in making gunpowder for the army. The mountain was quiet at the
time, and the expedition was attended with better success. The
Spaniards, five in-number, climbed to the very edge of the crater,
which presented an irregular ellipse at its mouth, more than a
league in circumference. Its depth might be from 800 to 1000 feet.
A lurid flame burned gloomily at the bottom, sending up a
sulphureous steam, which, cooling as it rose, was precipitated on
the sides of the cavity. The party cast lots, and it fell on
Montano himself to descend in a basket into this hideous abyss,
into which he was lowered by his companions to the depth of 400
feet! This was repeated several times, till the adventurous
cavalier had collected a sufficient quantity of sulphur for the
wants of the army."

The more tranquil state of the volcano in modern times having
rendered the summit no longer so difficult of access as it was in
those days, the ascent has been several times achieved--twice in
1827, and again in 1833 and 1834. The crater is now a large oval
basin with precipitous walls, composed of beds of lava, of which
some are black, others of a pale rose tint. At the bottom of the
crater, which is nearly flat, are several conical vents, whence are
continually issuing vapours of variable colour, red, yellow, or
white. The beds of sulphur deposited in this crater are worked for
economical purposes. Two snowy peaks tower above its walls.

Not less magnificent in its proportions is the volcano of Orizaba,
which is nearly of the same height as Popocatepetl. It was very
active about the middle of the sixteenth century, having had
several great eruptions between 1545 and 1560; but since then it
has sunk into comparative repose. This mountain was ascended by
Baron Muller in 1856. A first attempt proved unsuccessful; but by
passing a night in a grotto near the limit of perpetual snow, he
was able on the following day, after a toilsome ascent, to reach
the edge of the crater--not, however, till near sunset. His
experiences, and the scene which was presented to his wondering
gaze, he describes in the following terms:--

"I have achieved my purpose, and joy banishes all my griefs, but
only for a moment; suddenly I fell to the ground, and a stream of
blood gushed from my mouth.

"On recovering, I found myself still close to the crater, and I
then summoned all my strength to gaze and observe as much as
possible. My pen cannot describe either the aspect of those
regions, or the impressions they produced on me. Here seemed to be
the gate of the nether world, enclosing darkness and horror. What
terrible power must have been required to raise and shiver such
enormous masses, to melt them and pile them up like towers, at the
very moment of their cooling and acquiring their actual forms!

"A yellow crust of sulphur coats in several places the internal
walls, and from the bottom rise several volcanic cones. The soil of
the crater, so far as I could see, was covered with snow,
consequently not at all warm. The Indians however affirmed that, at
several points, a hot air issues from crevices in the rocks.
Although I could not verify their statement, it seemed to me
probable; for I have often observed similar phenomena in

"My original intention of passing the night on the crater had for
overpowering reasons become impracticable. The twilight which, in
this latitude, as every one knows, is extremely short, having
already begun, it was necessary to prepare for our return. The two
Indians rolled together the straw mats which they had brought, and
bent them in front so as to form a sort of sledge. We sat down upon
these, and stretching out our legs, allowed ourselves to glide down
on this vehicle. The rapidity with which we were precipitated
increased to such a degree, that our descent was rather like being
shot through the air, than any other mode of locomotion. In a few
minutes we dashed over a space which it had taken us five hours to

There are several of the West Indian islands of volcanic origin;
and three of them--St. Vincent, Martinique, and Guadaloupe--contain
active volcanoes. The most remarkable is the volcano of Morne-Garou,
in St. Vincent, the eruptions from which have been
particularly violent. In 1812 the ashes which it threw out were so
great in quantity, and projected to so vast a height, that they
were carried to a distance of two hundred miles in the teeth of the
trade-wind. From Mount Pelée, in Martinique, there was an eruption
in August 1851. La Soufriere, the volcano in Guadaloupe, is said to
have been cleft in twain during an earthquake. Its activity has
long been in a subdued state; but it is remarkable for its deposits
of sulphur.


Hawaii, Sandwich Islands--Crater of Kilauea--Its awful Aspect--Fiery
Lake and Islands--Jets of Lava--Depth of Crater and Surface
of Lake--Bank of Sulphur--Curious Rainbow--Mouna-Kaah and
Mouna-Loa--Eruption of the Latter in 1840--Recent Eruption--Great
Jet and Torrent of Lava--Burning of the Forests--Great
Whirlwinds--Underground Explosions--Other Volcanoes in the Pacific.

Hawaii is well known in history as being the island where the
celebrated navigator Captain Cook was killed. The name used to be
written Owhyhee; but a better apprehension of the native
pronunciation has led to its being altered into Hawaii. No one who
visits it in the present day need be afraid of sharing the fate of
poor Captain Cook; for the descendants of the savages who, in his
time, inhabited the island, have now, through the labours of
Christian missionaries, become a very decent sort of quiet,
well-behaved Christian people.

Hawaii, which is the largest of a group called the Sandwich
Islands, can boast of the greatest volcanic crater in the world. It
is called sometimes Kirauea, sometimes Kilauea; for the natives
seem not very particular about the pronunciation of their _l_
and their _r_; but where one uses _l_ another as
pertinaciously employs _r_, while a third set use a sound
between the two, as you may have heard some people do at home.
Situated on the lower slopes of a lofty mountain called Mouna-Roa,
or Loa (for there is the same dubiety about the _l_ and the
_r_ here as in the former case), the crater of Kilauea is a
vast plain between fifteen and sixteen miles in circumference, and
sunk below the level of its borders to a depth varying from two
hundred to four hundred feet--the walls of rock enclosing it being
for the most part precipitous. The surface of the ground is very
uneven, being strown with huge stones and masses of volcanic rock,
and it sounds hollow under the tramp of the foot.

Towards the centre of the plain is a much deeper depression. Those
who have ventured to approach it, and look down, describe it as an
awful gulf, about eight hundred feet in depth, and presenting a
most gloomy and dismal aspect. The bottom is covered with molten
lava, forming a great lake of fire, which is continually boiling
violently, and whose fiery billows exhibit a wild terrific
appearance. The shape of the lake resembles the crescent moon; its
length is estimated at about two miles, and its greatest breadth at
about one mile. It has numerous conical islands scattered round the
edge, or in the lake itself, each of them being a little
subordinate crater. Some of them are continually sending out
columns of gray vapour; while from a few others shoots up what
resembles flame. It is, probably, only the bright glare of the lava
they contain, reflected upwards. Several of these conical islands
are always belching forth from their mouths glowing streams of
lava, which roll in fiery torrents down their black and rugged
sides into the boiling lake below. They are said sometimes to throw
up jets of lava to the height of upwards of sixty feet. The
foregoing woodcut can convey only an imperfect idea of this immense

[Illustration:  Crater of Kilauea]

The outer margin of the gulf all round is nearly perpendicular. The
height of the bounding cliffs is estimated at about four hundred
feet above a black horizontal ledge of hardened lava, which
completely encircles it, and beyond which there is a gradual slope
down into the burning lake. The surface of the molten lava is at
present between three and four hundred feet below this horizontal
ledge; but the lava is said sometimes to rise quite up to this
level, and to force its way out by forming an opening in the side
of the mountain, whence it flows down to the sea. An eruption of
this kind took place in 1859. On one side of the margin of the lake
there is a long pale yellow streak formed by a bank of sulphur. The
faces of the rocks composing the outer walls of the crater have a
pale ashy gray appearance, supposed to be due to the action of the
sulphurous vapours. The surface of the plain itself is much rent by
fissures. It is said that the glare from the molten lava in the
lake is so great as to form rainbows on the passing rain-clouds.

The entire Island of Hawaii is of volcanic origin; and besides this
great crater it contains two other lofty mountains, whose summits
are covered with snow, and whose height is estimated at fifteen or
sixteen thousand feet above the level of the sea. The one is named
Mouna-Kaah or Keah, the other is Mouna-Loa--the same on whose lower
flanks the crater of Kilauea is situated. Mouna-Kaah has long been
in a state of repose. So also was Mouna-Loa up to 1840, when it
burst forth with great fury, and it has continued more or less in a
state of activity ever since. There has been a grand eruption very
lately, said by the natives to have been the greatest of any on

A new crater opened near the top, at a height of about ten thousand
feet, and for three days a flood of lava poured down the north-eastern
slope. After a pause of about thirty-six hours, there was
opened on the eastern slope, about half way down the mountain,
another crater, whence there rose an immense jet of liquid lava,
which attained a height of about a thousand feet, and had a
diameter of about a hundred feet. This jet was sustained for twenty
days and nights; but during that time its height varied from the
extreme limit of a thousand, down to about a hundred feet. The play
of this fiery fountain was accompanied by explosions so loud as to
be heard at the distance of forty miles. Nothing could surpass the
awful grandeur of this jet, which was at a white heat when it
issued from its source, but, cooling as it ascended into the air,
it became of a bright blood red, which, as the liquid fell,
deepened into crimson.

In a few days there was raised around this crater a cone of about
three hundred feet in height, composed of the looser materials
thrown out along with the lava. This cone continued to glow with
intense heat, throwing out occasional flashes. The base of this
cone eventually acquired a circumference of about a mile. But the
fountain itself formed a river of glowing lava, which rushed and
bounded with the speed of a torrent down the sides of the mountain,
filling up ravines and dashing over precipices, until it reached
the forests at the foot of the volcano. These burst into flames at
the approach of the fiery torrent, sending up volumes of smoke and
steam high into the air. The light from the burning forests and the
lava together was so intense as to turn night into day, and was
seen by mariners at a distance of nearly two hundred miles.

During the day the air throughout a vast extent was filled with a
murky haze, through which the sun showed only a pallid glimmer.
Smoke, steam, ashes, and cinders were tossed into the air and
whirled about by fierce winds--sometimes spreading out like a fan,
but every moment changing both their form and colour. The stream of
lava from the fountain flowed to a distance of about thirty-five
miles. The scene was altogether terrific--the fierce red glare of
the lava--the flames from the burning trees--the great volumes of
smoke and steam--the loud underground explosions and thunderings,--all
combined to overpower the senses, and fill the mind with
indescribable awe.

A remarkable volcanic chain runs along the northern and western
margins of the Pacific Ocean. It embraces the Aleutian Islands, the
peninsula of Kamtschatka, the Kurile, the Japanese, and the
Philippine Islands. The most interesting are the volcanoes of
Kamtschatka, in which there is an oft-renewed struggle between
opposing forces--the snow and glaciers predominating for a while,
to be in their turn overpowered by torrents of liquid fire.


Atolls, or Coral Islands--Their strange Appearance--Their
Connexion with Volcanoes--Their Mode of Formation--Antarctic
Volcanoes--Diatomaceous Deposits

To the southward of the Sandwich Islands, on the other side of the
equator, there is a large group of islands in the Pacific, which
have a very peculiar appearance. They are called Atolls or Coral
Islands. Although not exactly of volcanic origin, yet the manner in
which they are formed has some connexion with submarine volcanic

An atoll consists essentially of a ring of coral rocks but little
elevated above the level of the sea, and having in its centre a
lagoon or salt-water lake, which generally communicates by a deep
narrow channel with the sea. The ring of rocks is flat on the
surface, which is composed of friable soil, and sustains a
luxuriant vegetation, chiefly of cocoa-nut palms. It is seldom more
than half a mile in breadth between the sea and lagoon, sometimes
only three or four hundred yards. The outer margin of the ring is
the highest, and it slopes gradually down towards the lagoon; but
on the outside of the ledge of rocks is a beach of dazzling
whiteness, composed of powdered and broken coral and shells. The
appearance they present is thus not less beautiful than singular.
Some of these islands are of large size, from thirty to fifty miles
long, and from twenty to thirty broad, but they are in general
considerably smaller. Their most frequent form is either round or
oval. The rocks composing them are all formed by different species
of coral. The animal which constructs them is of the polyp tribe,
and so small that it can be seen only under the higher powers of
the microscope. It multiplies by means of buds like those of a
tree, the individuals all combining to form a composite stony mass,
which is called a polypidom. A number of such polypidoms growing
close together form a coral reef. See woodcuts.

[Illustration:  Coral]

[Illustration:  Coral Polyp]

It was at one time supposed that these coral reefs were erected on
the edges of the craters of submarine volcanoes, an opinion to
which their annular form, and the lagoon in the centre, lent some
countenance; but the vast size of some of them, united to several
other particulars connected with them, threw great doubts over this

More recently it has been shown by Mr. Darwin that, while volcanic
agency does perform a part in their formation, it is different from
what had been formerly imagined. His supposition is, that these
coral reefs were built round the coasts of islands which had once
stood very much higher above water than they do now. He conceives
that the bottom of the sea under them being very volcanic, and
containing large collections of molten lava beneath a thin solid
crust, the islands have gradually sunk down into the lava, until
their central parts have become covered with a considerable depth
of water. The central parts thus submerged, he imagines, form the
lagoons in the middle of the islands, while the ring of coral reefs
has gradually grown upwards, as the ground on which it rested sank

[Illustration:  Coral Reef.]

The corals thus rise to near the surface, but immediately on their
being uncovered by the water they die, and the reef ceases to grow.
Then the waves by their action break the upper part of it into
pieces, which thus become heaped up by degrees on the remainder,
until the mass attain so great a height that the sea can no longer
wash over it. Thus the curious ring of land is gradually formed,
and affords a nutritive soil, in which cocoa-nuts, on being cast
ashore, germinate and grow to be large trees. Other seeds, wafted
by the waves or carried by birds, also begin to grow, until the
whole surface becomes covered with vegetation. Then comes man and
builds his habitation upon those fertile spots, and finds in them
an agreeable and convenient abode, well suited to those who are
accustomed to live by fishing and other simple means.

You will thus perceive that the connexion between the atoll and the
volcano consists in this--that while the coral builds up the reef,
the volcano beneath ingulfs the island and causes it to sink down.
In some instances, however, the volcano, after a while, reverses
its action, and raises up the island with the reef upon it. In such
cases, the coral reefs are seen standing out of the water, forming
perpendicular cliffs several hundred feet in height. Then also the
interior of the island becomes once more dry land, and that, too,
of great fertility.

[Illustration:  Mount Erebus.]

Almost due south of that region, in the Pacific, where the coral
islands abound, but at a great distance from them, and considerably
within the limits of the Antarctic zone, lies South Victoria. Here,
in lat. 76 degrees S., Captain Ross discovered, in 1841, two
volcanoes, which he called Erebus and Terror, after the names of
his two ships. Of the former, which is the higher of the two, a
view is given in the annexed woodcut. It is covered with perpetual
snow from the bottom even to the tip of the summit. Nevertheless,
it is continually sending forth vast columns of vapour, which glow
with the reflection of the white hot lava beneath. These vapours
ascend to a great height, more than two thousand feet above the top
of the cone, which is itself twelve thousand feet above the level
of the sea.

There is found in these frozen regions a remarkable botanical
curiosity, having a certain connexion with volcanoes. The waters of
the ocean, all along the borders of the icy barrier, produce in
amazing abundance the family of water-plants named Diatomaceae. The
Diatoms are so called from their faculty of multiplying themselves
indefinitely by splitting into two; and so rapidly is this process
performed, that in a month a single diatom may produce a thousand
millions. The quantity found in the Antarctic regions is so immense
that, between the parallels of 60 degrees and 80 degrees of south
latitude, they stain the whole surface of the sea of a pale olive-brown
tint. These plants, which are so minute as to be individually
invisible, save under the higher powers of the microscope, have the
curious property of encrusting themselves with a sheath, or shell,
of pure silica. These shells remain after the death of the plant,
and are as indestructible as flint. They are marvellous objects,
both as respects the elegance of their forms and the beauty of
their markings. So great is the accumulation of these shells at the
bottom of the sea, that they have formed an immense bank 400 miles
in length by 120 in breadth, between the 76th and 78th degrees of
south latitude. One portion of this bank rests on the coast at the
foot of Mount Erebus.

Now, it is remarkable that these microscopic shells of Diatoms are
not unfrequently found in the ejections of volcanoes; while it is
generally supposed that, in the case of those situated near the
sea, eruptions are caused by the formation of explosive steam
consequent on the access of sea-water to the reservoirs of molten
lava lying underground. The proximity of this Diatomaceous bed to
Mount Erebus would easily explain how these minute shells might be
found abundant in the fine dust ejected from that volcano.


Volcanoes of Java--Papandayang--Mountain Ingulfed--Great
Destruction of Life and Property--Galoen-gong--Destructive
Eruption--Mount Merapia--Great Eruption, with Hurricane--Another,
very destructive--Mud Volcano Crater of Tankuban-Prahu--Island of
Sumbáwa--Volcano of Tomboro--Terrific Eruption--Timor--A Volcano
quenches itself--Cleaving of Mount Machian--Sangir--Destructive

One of the most marvellous volcanic regions in the world is that
composed of the islands of the Malayan Archipelago in the Indian
Ocean. They form a chain stretching from east to west, but curving
up towards the north at the western extremity. The most easterly of
the chain is Timor, the most westerly Sumatra.

The most interesting of the group is Java, which is almost entirely
of volcanic origin, and contains no less than thirty-eight
mountains of that conical form which indicates their having at one
time or other been active volcanoes. Only a few of them, however,
have been in activity in more recent times. The most remarkable
eruption was that of the mountain named Papandayang, which occurred
in 1772. During this convulsion the greater part of the mountain,
which was formerly one of the largest in the island, was completely
swallowed up in some great underground gulf.

On the night between the 11th and 12th of August of that year, the
mountain appeared to be wholly enveloped in a remarkable luminous
cloud. The inhabitants fled in consternation; but before they could
all escape, the mountain began to totter, and the greater part of
it tumbled down and disappeared. The crash with which it fell was
dreadful, the noise resembling the discharge of volleys of
artillery. Besides that part of the mountain which thus fell in, a
large extent of ground in its neighbourhood was ingulfed. The space
measured fifteen miles in length and six in breadth. The ground for
many miles round this space was covered with immense quantities of
ashes, stones, cinders, and other substances thrown out by the
volcano. These were, on many parts of the surface, accumulated to
the height of three feet; and even at the end of six weeks, the
layers thus deposited retained so much heat as to render the
mountain inaccessible. By this dreadful occurrence forty villages
were destroyed, some ingulfed with the ground on which they stood,
others buried under the loose materials which had been ejected. Not
far short of three thousand of the inhabitants perished.

Another of the volcanoes of Java, called Galoen-gong, burst into
eruption in 1822, commencing with a terrible explosion of stones,
ashes, &c., followed by a stream of hot mud, which overspread a
large tract of ground. This eruption proved still more fatal to
human life, about four thousand persons having been destroyed.

So lately as September 1849, Mount Merapia, another volcano in this
island, which had been supposed to be quite extinct, burst forth
into an eruption, which lasted three days. It was accompanied by a
violent hurricane. The bed of a river was filled up by the matter
thrown out from the crater, and the destruction of property in
crops, &c., was immense. Fortunately the inhabitants succeeded in
making their escape, so that no lives were lost. A second eruption
of this mountain however, in January 1864, was more disastrous,
three hundred and fifty people having perished.

Java likewise contains a remarkable mud volcano. When viewed from a
distance, there are seen to rise from it large volumes of vapour,
like the spray from the billows dashing against a rocky shore, and
there is heard a loud noise like distant thunder. On a nearer
approach, the source of these phenomena is seen to be a
hemispherical mound of black earth mixed with water, about sixteen
feet in diameter, and which at intervals of a few seconds is pushed
upwards by a force acting from beneath to a height of between
twenty and thirty feet. It then suddenly explodes with a loud
noise, scattering in every direction a quantity of black mud, which
has a strong pungent smell resembling that of coal-tar, and is
considerably warmer than the air. With the mud thus thrown out
there has been formed around the mound a large perfectly level and
nearly circular plain, about half a mile in circumference. The
water mixed with the mud is salt, and the salt is separated from it
by evaporation for economical purposes. During the rainy season the
action of this mud volcano becomes more violent, the explosions are
louder, and the mud is thrown to a greater height.

The crater of Tangkuban-Prahu, another of the volcanoes of Java,
presents a remarkable appearance. On approaching its edge, nothing
is seen but an abyss, from which dense clouds of vapour continually
arise, with hideous sounds, like the steam rushing from the open
valves of hundreds of steam-engines. This great abyss consists
really of two craters, separated the one from the other by a narrow
ridge of rock, to which it is possible to descend and view them
both. Each of them is elliptical in form, and surrounded by a
crater-wall. That of the western, which the natives call the
poison-crater, is a rapid slope nearly a thousand feet in depth,
and is densely covered with brushwood almost to the bottom. The
flat floor of this deep basin is continually sending out vapours,
and in its centre is a pool of boiling water of a sulphur yellow
colour. The floor itself is nothing but a crust of sulphur full of
rents and holes, whence vapours constantly arise. This crust covers
a surface of boiling hot bitter water, and by breaking it beautiful
crystals of sulphur may be obtained.

The eastern is called by the natives the king's-crater; its walls
are only between five and six hundred feet in depth, and are
perfectly bare from top to bottom. The surfaces of the rocks
composing them are grayish white, an effect produced upon them by
the action of the vapours, to which they are continually exposed.
The bottom of this crater consists of mud mixed with sulphur; but
round the edges are some stones and hard masses. These are the
remnants of an eruption which took place from this crater in 1846,
when there was thrown up a great mass of sulphurous boiling mud,
accompanied by quantities of sand and stones. This mountain,
therefore, seems to be also more of the nature of a mud volcano,
than of one which throws out burning lava.

Nearly in a right line to the eastward of Java lies the Island of
Sumbáwa, in which stands the volcano of Tomboro, the most violent
in its eruptions of any in the world. One of the most remarkable
occurred in the year 1815, beginning on the 5th of April and
continuing till the middle of July. Its effects were felt over an
immense tract of country, embracing the Molucca Islands, Java, and
portions of Celebes, Sumatra, and Borneo. The concussions produced
by its explosions were sensible at a distance of a thousand miles
all round; and their sound is said to have been heard even at so
great a distance as seventeen hundred miles. In Java the day was
darkened by clouds of ashes, thrown from the mountain to that great
distance (three hundred miles), and the houses, streets, and
fields, were covered to the depth of several inches with the ashes
that fell from the air. So great was the quantity of ashes ejected,
that the roofs of houses forty miles distant from the volcano were
broken in by their weight. The effects of the eruption extended
even to the western coasts of Sumatra, where masses of pumice were
seen floating on the surface of the sea, several feet in thickness
and many miles in extent.

From the crater itself there were seen to ascend three fiery
columns, which, after soaring to a great height, appeared to unite
in a confused manner at their tops. Ere long, the whole of the side
of the mountain next the village of Sang'ir seemed like one vast
body of liquid fire. The glare was terrific, until towards evening,
when it became partly obscured by the vast quantities of dust,
ashes, stones, and cinders thrown up from the crater. Between nine
and ten o'clock at night the ashes and stones began to fall upon
the village of Sang'ir, and all round the neighbourhood of the
mountain. Then arose a dreadful whirlwind, which blew down nearly
every house in the village, tossing the roofs and lighter parts
high into the air. In the neighbouring sea-port the effects were
even more violent, the largest trees having been torn up by the
roots and whirled aloft. Before such a furious tempest no living
thing could stand. Men, horses, and cattle were whirled into the
air like so much chaff, and then dashed violently down on the
ground. The sea rose nearly twelve feet above the highest tide-mark,
sweeping away houses, trees, everything within its reach.

This whirlwind lasted about an hour, and then commenced the awful
internal thunderings of the mountain. These continued with scarcely
any intermission until the 11th of July, when they became more
moderate, the intervals between them gradually increasing till the
15th of July, when they ceased. Almost all the villages for a long
distance round the mountain were destroyed; and it is computed that
nearly twelve thousand persons perished. By far the greatest part
of this destruction was wrought by the violence of the whirlwind
which accompanied the eruption.

Considerably to the eastward of Sumbáwa lies the Island of Timor,
in which there was for a long time a volcanic peak, whose perpetual
fires served as a lighthouse to mariners navigating those seas. But
in the year 1637 there took place a great eruption of the mountain,
which ended in its being gobbled up whole and entire, leaving
nothing behind it but a lake, in which its fires were quenched, and
which now occupies its place.

To the north of Timor lie the Molucca Islands, several of which are
volcanic. In one of them, named Machian, there occurred in the year
1646 an extraordinary event. A mountain was rent from top to
bottom, sending out great columns of fire and dense vapours. The
two parts now remain two distinct mountains.

In the Island of Sangir, another of the Moluccas, there was a
violent eruption in March 1856. A large portion of the mountain
fell down, and tremendous floods of water issued forth. The
destruction that ensued was dreadful, upwards of two thousand
persons having perished.

In another part of the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar, lies the
little Isle of Bourbon, containing the volcano Salazes, which
occasionally throws out the curious thready substance already
mentioned, so strongly resembling spun glass.


Mud and Air Volcanoes--Luss--Macaluba--Taman--Korabetoff--New
Island in the Sea of Azof--Jokmali--Fires of Baku--Mud Volcano in
Flank of Etna--Air Volcanoes of Turbaco, Cartagena, and Galera-Zamba.

The curious mud volcano in the Island of Java, described in
the preceding chapter, although presenting some peculiar features,
is not the only one of the kind in the world. Mud, as you have
learned, is often thrown out in great quantities, along with
boiling water, even by true volcanoes, which at other times eject
ashes and lava. But there are some volcanoes that never throw out
anything else than mud and water, gas and steam. Such are called
mud volcanoes or salses.

The most remarkable assemblage of mud volcanoes in the world exists
in the district of Luss, lying at the south-east corner of
Beloochistan. They extend over a very large area, and are
exceedingly numerous. The cone of one of them is no less than four
hundred feet high, and the crater at the top is ninety feet in
diameter. The mud in the crater is quite liquid, and is constantly
disturbed by bubbles of gas, and occasionally by jets of the mud

More familiarly known is the mud volcano of Macaluba, near
Girgenti, in Sicily. It is situated in a country much impregnated
with sulphur and other inflammable matters. The top of the hill is
covered with dry clay, in which are numerous basins full of warmish
water mixed with mud and bitumen. From these small craters bubbles
of gas arise from time to time; but at long intervals they become
much more active, and throw up jets of wet mud to the height of
nearly two hundred feet. This mud smells strongly of sulphur.

In the peninsula of Taman, near the entrance to the Sea of Azof,
there is a group of mud volcanoes, from one of which there was a
considerable eruption on the 27th of February 1793. It was preceded
by underground detonations, and accompanied by a column of fire and
dense vapour, which rose to the height of several hundred feet. The
discharge of mud and gas was abundant. The accompaniment of fire
and smoke makes this eruption more nearly resemble that of a true

There is in the adjacent parts of the Crimea a mountain named
Korabetoff, which also presents similar phenomena. On the 6th of
August 1853, a column of fire and smoke was seen to rise from the
top of this mountain to a great height, and it continued for five
or six minutes. Two other similar but less violent ejections of
fire and smoke followed at short intervals. These appearances were
the accompaniments of an eruption of black fetid mud, which
overspread the ground at the foot of the mountain to a considerable

A still more striking phenomenon occurred in the Sea of Azof, on
the 10th of May 1814. On that day a column of flame and very thick
smoke arose out of the water, with a loud report like that of a
cannon, and masses of earth with large stones were tossed high up
into the air. Ten eruptions of this kind succeeded each other at
intervals of about a quarter of an hour; and after they had ceased
for a time, they began again during the night. Next morning it was
found that an island had risen out of the sea, between nine and ten
feet in height, surrounded by a lower level of hardened mud. A
strong fetid smell, probably that of petroleum, proceeded from the
island, and extended for a considerable distance all round.

[Illustration:  Air Volcanoes of Turbaco]

Another mud volcano, named Jokmali, near the Caspian Sea, was
formed in November 1827. In this case, also, the ejection of mud
was for several hours preceded by flames, rising to so great a
height that they could be seen at a distance of twenty-four miles.
Large pieces of rock were at the same time thrown up and scattered
to considerable distances all round. The entire district in which
this mountain is situated, has its soil copiously impregnated with
petroleum, and numerous wells are formed for its collection.
Quantities of this mineral oil are frequently found floating on the
sea, along the neighbouring shores, where the sailors are in the
habit of setting fire to this floating petroleum, while they
dexterously steer their boats so as to avoid the flames. In this
district also stands the city of Baku, held sacred by the Parsees,
or fire-worshippers, who have here built a temple, in which are
kept burning perpetual fires, fed by the naphtha springing from the

During the past year, 1866, a small mud volcano has been formed in
the flanks of Mount Etna. It began with an outburst of strong jets
of boiling water. First, one rose to the height of about six feet,
then several others broke out, whereupon the height of the whole
set diminished. There was much gas bubbling through the water, and
some petroleum floated on its surface. It was very muddy, and left
a thick deposit as it flowed away. Neither flames nor noise
accompanied this eruption.

There are also diminutive volcanoes, consisting of small conical
hills, from which nothing seems to be emitted but various sorts of
gas. These are called air volcanoes. Such are those of Turbaco in
South America, discovered by Baron Humboldt, who has left us a
picture of them, of which you here have a copy. These volcanic
hillocks are truncated cones, eighteen or twenty in number,
composed of hardened mud, from 18 to 24 feet in height, and from
about 140 to about 180 feet in diameter at the base. The small
craters at the top are filled with liquid mud, whence bubbles of
gas, chiefly nitrogen, are being continually disengaged.

There is a similar, but much larger, group in the neighbouring
province of Cartagena. It consists of about one hundred cones
spread over a district of nearly four hundred square leagues. There
is also a group of about fifty cones within a range of four or five
miles in the adjacent peninsula of Galera-Zamba. A sub-marine
volcano, from which there have been several eruptions, is supposed
to be connected with these numerous salses.


New Zealand--Boiling Fountains and Lakes

In the eruptions of mud volcanoes, described in the foregoing
chapter, a frequent ingredient is boiling water. There are,
however, several instances in which there are thrown up jets of
boiling water that are not intermingled with mud, but in which the
water is either pure or impregnated with some mineral which it
holds in perfect solution. Of this nature are the Geysers of
Iceland and California, already described.

In New Zealand there is another variety of this phenomenon, the
boiling water issuing forth, not in intermittent jets, as in the
Geysers, but in perpetually flowing springs, forming lakes, in
which the water remains nearly at the boiling point. These springs
and lakes occur at a place called Roto-Mahana. The annexed woodcut
will convey an idea of their appearance.

There are several basins raised one above another, and all higher
than the level of the large lake. The highest is of an oval form,
and about two hundred and fifty feet in circumference. It is filled
from an opening at the height of about a hundred feet above the
level of the lower lake. At various stages below this upper basin
are numerous other springs, from which several similar basins are
filled. The whole of these basins empty themselves into the large
lake below, and the water in all of them is nearly boiling hot,
giving forth, with a hissing sound, volumes of white vapour.

[Illustration:  Boiling Lakes of Roto Mahana]

These waters are richly impregnated with carbonate of lime, which
has formed all round the margins of the basins beautiful
incrustations of snowy whiteness. The sand round the lake is very
warm; and if a stick be thrust into it, jets of steam arise.

Doubtless, some years hence, the enterprising English settlers will
establish hot baths here. Not far from the lake there are smaller
basins, in which the water is not beyond what would be agreeable
for a warm bath; while it is of a blue colour and beautifully

On both banks of the river Waikato, also in this neighbourhood, are
found numerous basins full of boiling mud or slime, which cannot be
approached save with extreme care, owing to the softness and
slipperiness of the soil. The largest of these basins is oval in
form, 14 feet long by 8 feet wide, and about as much in depth. It
contains hot mud of a bright red colour, being strongly impregnated
with oxide of iron. Large viscous bubbles are continually rising to
the top, and on bursting they emit a fetid, sulphureous smell.
These phenomena are nearly akin to those of a mud volcano.


Underground Sounds--Quito--Rio Apure--Guanaxuato--Melida--Nakous.

Not the least remarkable among the phenomena produced by volcanic
forces, are the strange underground noises which are occasionally
heard. For the most part these are the preludes either of shocks of
earthquake or of volcanic eruptions. Those which for months
preceded the upheaval of the volcano of Jorullo, will recur to your
remembrance. For about a month before the great mud eruption from
Tunguragua on 4th February 1797, already described, there proceeded
from the interior of that mountain noises of the most fearful kind.
These would occur suddenly in the midst of perfect silence. They
were heard by Antonio Pineda, the naturalist, who was there at the
time, and they led him to foretell the approach of some great
convulsion. Strange to say, however, the catastrophe itself was
unaccompanied by underground noises any where near the volcano.
But, stranger still, at Quito, which is distant about 200 miles, a
short time after the eruption began, there were heard tremendous
underground thunders. But this distance, between the site of the
underground noises and the probable focus of disturbance, was far
exceeded in another remarkable instance. It is stated by Humboldt
that, in the grassy plains of Calaboso, on the banks of the Rio
Apure, a tributary of the Orinoco, there were heard, over a large
extent of country, loud underground thunders, unaccompanied by any
shaking of the ground; while great streams of lava were being
poured forth from the crater of Morne-Garou, in the Island of St.
Vincent, at the distance of no less than 632 miles in a right line.
This was as though an eruption of Mount Vesuvius were accompanied
by underground thunders in Normandy.

There have, nevertheless, been instances of the existence of such
underground noises, without their having been followed either by an
earthquake, by a volcanic eruption, or any other outward appearance
whatever. One of the most remarkable cases of the kind, was that
mentioned by Humboldt as having occurred at Guanaxuato in Mexico, a
mountain-city situated far from any active volcano. This celebrated
traveller states that these noises began on the 9th of January
1784, and lasted above a month. The sounds were at first neither
very loud nor very frequent; but from the 15th to the 16th of
January they resembled continuous low rolling thunder, alternating
with short loud thunder-claps. The sounds then gradually died away
and nothing came of them, although they excited great terror among
the inhabitants while they lasted. There are mines in the
neighbourhood fifteen hundred and ninety-eight English feet in
depth, yet neither in them nor at the surface could the least
tremor be detected.

A somewhat similar phenomenon occurred in the Island of Melida in
the Adriatic, off the coast of Dalmatia, where underground
rumblings were heard from March 1822 to September 1824; but in this
case the sounds were sometimes accompanied by shocks.

A still more singular phenomenon of this sort occurs on the borders
of the Red Sea, at a place called Nakous, where intermittent
underground sounds have been heard for an unknown number of
centuries. It is situated at about half a mile's distance from the
shore, whence a long reach of sand ascends rapidly to a height of
about three hundred feet. This reach is about eighty feet wide, and
resembles an amphitheatre, being walled in by low rocks. The sounds
coming up from the ground at this place recur at intervals of about
an hour. They at first resemble a low murmur; but ere long there is
heard a loud knocking, somewhat like the strokes of a bell, and
which, at the end of about five minutes, becomes so strong as to
agitate the sand.

The explanation of this curious phenomenon given by the Arabs, is,
that there is a convent under the ground here, and that these
sounds are those of the bell, which the monks ring for prayers. So
they call it "Nakous," which means a bell. The Arabs affirm that
the noise so frightens their camels when they hear it as to render
them furious. Philosophers attribute the sounds to suppressed
volcanic action--probably to the bubbling of gas or vapours


Extinct Volcanoes--Auvergne--Vienne--Agde--Eyfel--Italy--Lacus
Cimini--Grotto del Cane--Guevo Upas--Talaga Bodas--The Dead Sea.

There are two sorts of extinct volcanoes: _first_, those in
which all evidences of activity have entirely ceased; and,
_secondly_, those in which a subdued state of activity
lingers. The former are more widely distributed than the latter;
but sometimes both kinds occur in the same district of country.

Extinct volcanoes are found in the district of Auvergne in France.
Solidified streams of lava occur at Volvic near Riom; and the
crater whence they descended is still visible on the top of the Puy
de Nugere. It is an oblong basin, having its edge broken on the
side down which the lava flowed. In its descent the fiery stream
appears to have encountered a knoll of granite, by which it was
divided into two branches. These seem to have reunited lower down,
and thence to have overspread the valley beneath.

The Puy de Côme, a mountain near Clermont, appears to have sent
forth two streams of lava, which have effected considerable changes
in the surface of the country--blocking up the courses of rivers
diverting them into new channels, and forming swamps in the old. On
the top of Puy Pariou, to the north of Clermont, there exists a
perfect crater, quite round, and about two hundred and fifty feet
deep, whence there has flowed a stream of lava, whose course can be
distinctly traced. The summit of Puy Graveniere, a long round-backed
hill also near Clermont, consists almost entirely of a heap
of volcanic cinders, which have obliterated all traces of a crater;
but two streams of lava appear to have flowed from the sides of the
mountain. The Puy de Dôme, and the mountains in its neighbourhood,
likewise appear to be of volcanic origin, and to have been upheaved
somewhat in the same manner as Jorullo. Although the aspect of the
mountains of Auvergne indicates so clearly their having been active
since the surrounding country acquired its present general
conformation, neither history nor tradition has preserved any
record of their eruptions.

There is extant, however, a letter from Sidonius Apollinaris, a
cotemporary of Pliny, addressed to the Bishop of Vienne, in which
he refers to forms of prayer which had been appointed by the bishop
at the time when earthquakes demolished the walls of Vienne, and
the mountains, opening, vomited forth torrents of inflamed
materials. It hence appears that the extinct volcanoes in the
neighbourhood of Vienne, and perhaps those of Le Puy, had been in a
state of eruption not long after the beginning of the Christian
era. To the westward of the latter town, there is a number of small
volcanic craters, of which the two largest are the Lake de Bouchet
and the Crater of Bar, which also appears to have been at one time
a lake, but is now dry. The former has its greatest diameter about
2300 feet, with a depth of about 90 feet. The latter is on the top
of a mountain, which is composed entirely of such substances as are
ejected by volcanoes. Its diameter is about 1660, and its depth
about 130 feet; while it is almost perfect in its form. The
mountains near Vienne exhibit streams of lava, which accommodate
themselves to the existing valleys. Near Agde also, on the shores
of the Gulf of Lions, on the top of a hill named St. Loup, there is
an extinct crater, whence have descended two streams of lava
apparently of recent origin. On one of them the town of Agde has
been built; the other projects into the sea.

The district of Eyfel, on the borders of the Rhine, is another in
which extinct volcanoes abound. They occur mostly in the form of
circular craters, which are now filled with water, their borders
consisting of volcanic ejections. They also exhibit various
superficial streams of lava. One of the most remarkable of these
round craters lies near Andernuch, a little west of the Rhine. It
is named the Lake of Laach, and is nearly two miles in circumference.
On its margin are found numerous volcanic ejections, exactly
resembling those of Mount Vesuvius. Notwithstanding these
evidences that the extinct volcanoes of Eyfel have been in activity
since the country acquired its present conformation, there are no
historical records of their operations. There is, indeed, a passage
in Tacitus referring to fires that issued from the earth near
Cologne; but his description does not warrant the conclusion that
the event to which he alludes was of the nature of a volcanic
eruption. The Drachenfels on the eastern bank of the Rhine, and the
other mountains in its neighbourhood, belong to the more ancient
volcanic formations. The same may be affirmed of the other
mountains scattered throughout Germany and central Europe
generally, in which rocks of volcanic origin occur.

There are a good many traces of extinct volcanoes in Italy, besides
those of the Phlegræan fields already mentioned. In general
character they resemble those previously described. The chief
localities are certain lakes, near Volterra in Tuscany, which give
forth very hot sulphurous and boracic acid vapours; a small
sulphureous lake near Viterbo continually giving forth bubbles of
gas; the Lake of Vico between Viterbo and Rome; the mountain and
Lake of Albano near Rome; Mount Vultur in the Apennines, in the
province of the Basilicata; and Lake Agnano near Naples. Of these,
the Lakes of Vico and Agnano are the most interesting. The former
is the ancient Lacus Cimini, and old authors state that its site
was once occupied by a town, whose ruins used to be visible at the
bottom of the lake when the water was clear. The ground, with the
town upon it, is said to have been ingulfed during a volcanic
convulsion, when the lake was formed in its place.

The Lake Agnano is the site of an ancient volcanic crater, and on
its margin is situated the Grotto del Cane, so famous for the
deadly vapours it exhales. These consist of carbonic acid gas, in
combination with watery vapour. This celebrated Grotto is thus
described, in his work on volcanoes, by Dr. Daubeny, who visited
the spot:--

"The mouth of the cavern being somewhat more elevated than its
interior, a stratum of carbonic acid goes on constantly
accumulating at the bottom, but upon rising above the level of its
mouth, flows like so much water over the brim. Hence the upper part
of the cavern is free from any noxious vapour; but the air of that
below is so fully impregnated, that it proves speedily fatal to any
animal that is immersed in it, as is shown to all strangers by the
experiment with the dog.

"The sensation I experienced, on stooping my head for a moment to
the bottom, resembled that of which we are sometimes sensible on
drinking a large glass of soda water in a state of brisk
effervescence. The cause in both instances is plainly the same.

"The quantity of carbonic acid present in the cavern at various
heights, was shown by immersing in it various combustibles in a
state of inflammation. I found that phosphorus would continue
lighted at about two feet from the bottom, whilst a sulphur match
went out a few inches above, and a wax taper at a still higher

"It was impossible to fire a pistol at the bottom of the cavern,
for although gunpowder may be exploded even in carbonic acid by the
application of a heat sufficient to decompose the nitre, and
consequently to envelop the mass in an atmosphere of oxygen gas,
yet the mere influence of a spark from steel produces too slight an
augmentation of temperature for this purpose."

Similar phenomena, but on a grander scale, are presented by the
extinct crater in the Island of Java called "Guevo Upas," the
Poison-Valley. It is a level about half a mile in circumference,
surrounded by precipitous rocks. From various parts of its soil
carbonic acid gas is discharged in such quantities as to prove
fatal to any animal venturing nigh. The ground is consequently
strown with numerous skeletons. This valley gave rise to the famous
figment about the upas-tree, which once obtained such general
belief in Europe.

There is another extinct crater in Java, whence are exhaled vapours
equally deadly, but which exert a most peculiar effect on the dead
carcasses subjected to their influence. Instead of their being, as
in the Gruevo Upas, reduced to skeletons, the carcasses have all
their bones dissolved by the vapours; while the flesh, skin, hair,
and nails are by their action preserved from decay. This remarkable
crater is situated near the volcano of Talaga Bodas.

Of all the extinct volcanoes in the world, however, none is so
remarkable as the Dead Sea. That singular collection of salt and
bitter water has the level of its surface depressed 1312 feet below
that of the Mediterranean--thus indicating an enormous subsidence.
The Dead Sea occupies the site of what was formerly the plain of
Jordan, described as having been "well-watered everywhere, as the
garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt." One part of it, called
the Vale of Siddim, was full of slime-pits--the only indications of
volcanic action. When the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which stood
in the plain, were destroyed, the Lord, it is said, rained upon
them fire and brimstone from heaven; but while these fell upon the
cities from the atmosphere, it appears that they must have
primarily been discharged from the earth; for "the smoke of the
country went up as the smoke of a furnace." The phenomena,
therefore, most likely resembled, in the first instance, those of
Jorullo; but the catastrophe seems to have ended like the last
great eruption of the volcano in Timor--the whole of the plain
having been ingulfed and replaced by the salt lake, whose depressed
level so clearly indicates the nature of its origin.

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