Principles of Geology (Book I)
Or, The modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology
Sir Charles Lyell
SIR CHARLES LYELL, M.A. F.R.&
VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCillETSI \1V LONDON; AUTHOR OF "A MANUAL Of
ELEMENTARY GEOLOGY," "TRAVELS IN NORTH AMERICA," "A SECOND
VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES," ETC. ETC.
NEW AND ENTIRELY REVISED EDITION.
D. APPLETON & CO., 346 & 348 BROADWAY. *
" Vere scire est per causas scire." BACON.
"The stony rocks are not primeval, but the daughters of Time." LINNAEUS,
Syst. Nat. ed. 5, Stockholm, 1748, p. 219.
" Amid all the revolutions of the globe, the economy of nature has been uniform,
and her laws are the only things that have resisted the general movement. The
rivers and the rocks, the seas and the continents have been changed in all their
parts ; but the laws which direct those changes, and the rules to which they are
subject, have remained invariably the same." PLAYFAIK, Illustrations of the Huttonian
" The inhabitants of the globe, like all the other parts of it, are subject to change.
It is not only the individual that perishes, but whole species.
" A change in the animal kingdom seems to be a part of the order of Nature, and
is visible in instances to which human power cannot have extended." PLAYFAIR,
Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory, 413.
PEEFACE TO THE NINTH EDITION.
THE Principles of Geology in the first five editions embraced
not only a view of the modern changes of the earth and its
inhabitants, as set forth in the present work, but also some
account of those monuments of analogous changes of ancient
date, both in the organic and inorganic world, which it is the
business of the geologist to interpret. The subject last mentioned,
geology proper," constituted originally a fourth
book, now omitted, the same having been enlarged into a separate
treatise, first published in 1838, in one volume 12mo., and
called " The Elements of Geology," afterwards recast in two
volumes 12mo. in 1842, and again re-edited under the title of
"Manual of Elementary Geology," in one volume 8vo. in 1851.
Principles" and " Manual" thus divided, occupy, with one
exception, to which I shall presently allude, very different
ground. The "
Principles" treat of such portions of the economy
of existing nature, animate and inanimate, as are illustrative
of Geology, so as to comprise an investigation of the
permanent effects of causes now in action, which may serve as
records to after ages of the present condition of the globe and
its inhabitants. Such effects are the enduring monuments of
the ever-varying state of the physical geography of the globe,
the lasting signs of its destruction and renovation, and the
memorials of the equally fluctuating condition of the organic
world. They may be regarded, in short, as a symbolical language,
in which the earth's autobiography is written.
In the " Manual of Elementary Geology," on the other hand,
I have treated briefly of the component materials of the earth's
crust, their arrangement and relative position, and their organic
contents, which, when deciphered by aid of the key supplied
by the study of the modern changes above alluded to, reveal to
us the annals of a grand succession of past events a series of
revolutions which the solid exterior of the globe, and its living
inhabitants, have experienced in times antecedent to the creation
In thus separating the two works, however, I have retained
in the "
Principles" (book i.) the discussion of some matters
which might fairly be regarded as common to both treatises ;
as for example, an historical sketch of the early progress of
geology, followed by a series of preliminary essays to explain
the facts and arguments which lead me to believe that the
forces now operating upon and beneath the earth's surface may
be the same, both in kind and degree, as those which at remote
epochs have worked out geological changes. (See Analysis of
Contents of this work, p. ix.)
If I am asked whether the "
Principles" or the " Manual"
should be studied first, I feel much the same difficulty in
answering the question as if a student should inquire whether
he ought to take up first a treatise on Chemistry, or one on
Natural Philosophy, subjects sufficiently distinct, yet inseparably
connected. On the whole, while I have endeavored to make
each of the two treatises, in their present form, quite independent
of the other, I would recommend the reader to study first
the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants as they are
discussed in the present volume, proceeding afterwards to the
classification and interpretation of the monuments of more
11 Harley Street, London, May 24, 1853.
Dates of the successive Editions of the "Principles" and "Elements'"
(or Manual) of Geology, by the Author.
Principles, 1st vol. in octavo, published in Jan. 1830.
, 2d vol. do. do Jan. 1832.
, 1st vol. 2d edition in octavo 1832.
, 2d vol. 2d edition do Jan. 1833.
, 3d vol. 1st edition do May, 1833.
, New edition (called the 3d) of the whole work in 4 vols.
12mo May, 1834.
, 4th edition, 4 vols. 12mo June, 1835.
, 5th do. do. do Mar. 1837.
Elements, 1st edition in one vol July, 1838.
Principles, 6th do. 3 vols. 12mo June, 1840.
Elements, 2d edition in 2 vols. 12mo , July, 1841.
Principles, 7th edition in one vol. 8vo ; Feb. 1847.
, 8th edition in one vol. 8vo May, 1850,
Manual of Elementary Geology (or
Elements," 3d edition) in one vol.
8vo. Jan. 1851,
Manual, 4th edition, one voL 8vo Jan. 1852
Principles, 9th edition, now published in one vol. 8vo. June, 1853
ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS
THE PRINCIPLES OF GEOLOGY.
BOOK I. (CHAPTERS I. to XIII.)
HISTOEICAL SKETCH OF THE PROGRESS OF GEOLOGY, WITH A SERIES OF ESSAYS TO SHOW
THAT THE MONUMENTS OF THE ANCIENT STATE OF THE EARTH AND ITS INHABITANTS,
WHICH THIS SCIENCE INTERPRETS, CAN ONLY BE UNDERSTOOD BY A PREVIOUS ACQUAINTANCE
WITH TERRESTRIAL CHANGES NOW IN PROGRESS, BOTH IN THE ORGANIC)
AND INORGANIC WORLDS.
Geology defined Its relation to other Sciences Page i
Oriental and Egyptian Cosmogonies Doctrines of the Greeks and Komans bearing
on Geology I
Historical progress of Geology Arabian Writers Italian. French, German, and
English geologists before the 19th century Physico-theological school .... 17
Werner and Hutton Modern progress of the science 46
Prepossessions in regard to the duration of past time, and other causes which have
retarded the progress of Geology 61
Agreement of the ancient and modern course of nature considered Changes of climate
CHAPTERS VII. VIII.
Causes of vicissitudes in climate, and their connection with changes in physical geography
Theory of the progressive development of organic life at successive periods consideredModern
origin of Man 130
Supposed intensity of aqueous forces at remote periods Erratic blocks Deluges
Supposed former intensity of the igneous forces Upheaval of land Volcanic action.
Causes of the difference in texture of older and newer rocks Plutonic and Metamorphic
Supposed alternate periods of repose and disorder Opposite doctrine, which refers
geological phenomena to an uninterrupted series of changes in the organic and inorganic
world, unattended with general catastrophes, or the development of paroxysmal
BOOK II. (CHAPTERS XIV. to XXXII.)
OBSERVED CHANGES IN THE INORGANIC WORLD NOW IN PROGRESS: FIRST, THE EFFECTS
OF AQUEOUS CAUSES, SUCH AS RIVERS, SPRINGS, GLACIERS, WAVES, TIDES, AND CURRENTS
; SECONDLY, OF IGNEOUS CAUSES, OR SUBTERRANEAN HEAT, AS EXHIBITED IN THE
VOLCANO AND THE EARTHQUAKE.
Aqueous causes Excavating and transporting power of rivers 198
* CHAPTER XV.
Carrying power of river-ice Glaciers and Icebergs 219
Phenomena of springs , 232
Reproductive effects of rivers Deltas of lakes and inland seas 251
Deltas of the Mississippi, Ganges, and other rivers exposed to tidal action. . . 263
CHAPTERS XIX. XX. XXI.
Denuding, transporting, and depositing agency of the waves, tides, and currents
Waste of sea-cliffs on the coast of England Delta of the Rhine Deposition of
sediment under the influence of marine currents 290, 821, 837
Observed effects of igneous causes Regions of active volcanoes 344
CHAPTERS XXIII. XXIV.
History of the volcanic eruptions of the district round Naples Structure of Vesuvius
Herculaneum and Pompeii 860, 375
Etna Its eruptions Structure and antiquity of the cone ............. Page 398
Volcanoes of Iceland, Mexico, the Canaries, and Grecian Archipelago Mud volcanoes
Earthquakes and the permanent changes attending them .................. 451
Earthquake of 1783 in Calabria .......................................... 471
land, and of the be
Evidence of the same afforded by the Temple of Serapis near Naples . . . 493
Elevation and subsidence of dry bed of the sea during earthquakes
les CHAPTER XXX.
Elevation and subsidence of land in regions free from volcanoes and earthquakes
Rising of land in Sweden .............................................. 519
CHAPTERS XXXI. XXXII.
Causes of earthquakes and volcanoes Theory of central fluidity of the earth Chemical
theory of volcanoes Causes of permanent upheaval and depression of land.
BOOK III. (CHAPTERS XXXIII to L.)
OBSERVED CHANGES OF THE ORGANIC WORLD NOW IN PROGRESS ; FIRST, NATURE AND
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF SPECIES, AND THEORIES RESPECTING THEIR CREATION
AND EXTINCTION ; SECONDLY, THE INFLUENCE OF ORGANIC BEINGS IN MODIFYING
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY ; THIRDLY, THE LAWS ACCORDING TO WHICH THEY ARE IMBEDDED
IN VOLCANIC, FRESHWATER, AND MARINE DEPOSITS.
CHAPTERS XXXIII. XXXIV, XXXV. XXXVI.
Whether species have a real existence in nature Theory of transmutation of species
Variability of species Phenomena of hybrids in animals and plants
566, 578, 591, 600
Laws which regulate the geographical distribution of species Distinct provinces of
peculiar species of plants Their mode of diffusion 612
Distinct provinces of peculiar species of animals Distribution and dispersion of
quadrupeds, birds, and reptiles 629
Geographical distribution and migrations offish Of testacea Of zoophytes Of insects
Geographical distribution and diffusion of the human race 646
Theories respecting the original introduction of species Reciprocal influence of
species on each other 665
CHAPTEKS XLI. XLII.
Extinction of species How every extension of the range of a species alters the condition
of many others Effect of changes of climate Page 677, 689
Creation of species Whether the loss of certain animals and plants is compensated
by the introduction of new species 701
Modifications in physical geography caused by organic beings 708
Imbedding of organic remains in peat, blown sand, and volcanic ejections. . . 718
Imbedding of the same in alluvial deposits and in caves 780
Imbedding of organic remains in aqueous deposits Terrestrial plants Insects, reptiles,
birds, quadrupeds 742
Imbedding of the remains of man and his works 758
Imbedding of aquatic animals and plants, both freshwater and marine, in aqueous
Formation of coral reefs 775
LIST OF PLATES.
DIRECTIONS TO THE BINDER.
FRONTISPIECE, View of the Temple of Serapis at Puzzuoli in 1886, toface titlepage.
PLATE 1. Map showing the Area in Europe which has been covered
by "Water since the beginning of the Eocene Period toface p. 121
2. Boulders drifted by Ice on the Shores of the St. Lawrence. . 220
8. View looking up the Val del Bove, Etna
4. View of the Val del Bove, Etna, as seen from above 404