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- Himalayan Journals, V1 - 63/63 -


A poor Mech was fishing in the stream, with a basket curiously formed of a cylinder of bamboo, cleft all round in innumerable strips, held together by the joints above and below; these strips being stretched out as a balloon in the middle, and kept apart by a hoop: a small hole is cut in the cage, and a mouse-trap entrance formed: the cage is placed in the current with the open end upwards, where the fish get in, and though little bigger than minnows, cannot find their way out.

On the 20th we had a change in the weather: a violent storm from the south-west occurred at noon, with hail of a strange form, the stones being sections of hollow spheres, half an inch across and upwards, formed of cones with truncated apices and convex bases; these cones were aggregated together with their bases outwards. The large masses were followed by a shower of the separate conical pieces, and that by heavy rain. On the mountains this storm was most severe: the stones lay at Dorjiling for seven days, congealed into masses of ice several feet long and a foot thick in sheltered places: at Purneah, fifty miles south, stones one and two inches across fell, probably as whole spheres.

Ascending to Khersiong, I found the vegetation very backward by the road-sides. The rain had cleared the atmosphere, and the view over the plains was brilliant. On the top of the Khersiong spur a tremendous gale set in with a cold west wind: the storm cleared off at night, which at 10 p.m. was beautiful, with forked and sheet lightning over the plains far below us. The equinoctial gales had now fairly set in, with violent south-east gales, heavy thunder, lightning, and rain.

Whilst at Khersiong I took advantage of the very fair section afforded by the road from Punkabaree, to examine the structure of the spur, which seems to be composed of very highly inclined contorted beds (dip north) of metamorphic rocks, gneiss, mica-slate, clay-slate, and quartz; the foliation of which beds is parallel to the dip of the strata. Over all reposes a bed of clay, capped with a layer of vegetable mould, nowhere so thick and rich as in the more humid regions of 7000 feet elevation. The rocks appeared in the following succession in descending. Along the top are found great blocks of very compact gneiss buried in clay. Half a mile lower the same rock appears, dipping north-north-east 50 degrees. Below this, beds of saccharine quartz, with seams of mica, dip north-north-west 20 degrees. Some of these quartz beds are folded on themselves, and look like flattened trunks of trees, being composed of concentric layers, each from two to four inches thick: we exposed twenty-seven feet of one fold running along the side of the road, which was cut parallel to the strike. Each layer of quartz was separated from its fellows, by one of mica scales; and was broken up into cubical fragments, whose surfaces are no doubt cleavage and jointing places. I had previously seen, but not understood, such flexures produced by metamorphic action on masses of quartz when in a pasty state, in the Falkland Islands, where they have been perfectly well described by Mr. Darwin;* [Journal of Geological Society for 1846, p. 267, and "Voyage of the Beagle".] in whose views of the formation of these rocks I entirely concur.

The flexures of the gneiss are incomparably more irregular and confused than those of the quartz, and often contain flattened spheres of highly crystalline felspar, that cleave perpendicularly to the shorter axis. These spheres are disposed in layers parallel to the foliation of the gneiss: and are the result of a metamorphic action of great intensity, effecting a complete rearrangement and crystallization of the quartz and mica in parallel planes, whilst the felspar is aggregated in spheres; just as in the rearrangement of the mineral constituents of mica-schists, the alumina is crystallized in the garnets, and in the clay-slates the iron into pyrites.

The quartz below this dips north-north-west 45 degrees to 50 degrees, and alternates with a very hard slaty schist, dipping north-west 45 degrees, and still lower is a blue-grey clay-slate, dipping north-north-west 30 degrees. These rest on beds of slate, folded like the quartz mentioned above, but with cleavage-planes, forming lines radiating from the axis of each flexure, and running through all the concentric folds. Below this are the plumbago and clay slates of Punkabaree, which alternate with beds of mica-schist with garnets, and appear to repose immediately upon the carboniferous strata and sandstone; but there is much disturbance at the junction.

On re-ascending from Punkabaree, the rocks gradually appear more and more dislocated, the clay-slate less so than the quartz and mica-schist, and that again far less than the gneiss, which is so shattered and bent, that it is impossible to say what is _in situ,_ and what not. Vast blocks lie superficially on the ridges; and the tops of all the outer mountains, as of Khersiong spur, of Tonglo, Sinchul, and Dorjiling, appear a pile of such masses. Injected veins of quartz are rare in the lower beds of schist and clay-slate, whilst the gneiss is often full of them; and on the inner and loftier ranges, these quartz veins are replaced by granite with tourmaline.

Lime is only known as a stalactitic deposit from various streams, at elevations from 1000 to 7000 feet; one such stream occurs above Punkabaree, which I have not seen; another within the Sinchul range, on the great Rungeet river, above the exit of the Rummai; a third wholly in the great central Himalayan range, flowing into the Lachen river. The total absence of any calcareous rock in Sikkim, and the appearance of the deposit in isolated streams at such distant localities, probably indicates a very remote origin of the lime-charged waters.

From Khersiong to Dorjiling, gneiss is the only rock, and is often decomposed into clay-beds, 20 feet deep, in which the narrow, often zigzag folia of quartz remain quite entire and undisturbed, whilst every trace of the foliation of the softer mineral is lost.

At Pacheem, Dorjiling weather, with fog and drizzle, commenced, and continued for two days: we, reached Dorjiling on the 24th of March, and found that the hail which had fallen on the 20th was still lying in great masses of crumbling ice in sheltered spots. The fall had done great damage to the gardens, and Dr. Campbell's tea-plants were cut to pieces.

Illustration--POCKET-COMB USED BY THE MECH TRIBES.

END OF VOLUME I OF HIMALAYAN JOURNALS.


Himalayan Journals, V1 - 63/63

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