A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

Seas were larger than we now find them; while the Adriatic extended much farther into
the continent, covering most of the country now in the valley of the Po. In Europe the
land has, of course, risen also, but so slowly that the rivers have been able to keep their
channels cut down; proof of their ability to perform which feat we see when an ancient
river passes through a ridge of hills or mountains. The river had doubtless been there long
before the mountains began to rise, but their elevation was so gradual that the rate of the
river's cutting down equalled or exceeded their coming up; proof of which we have in the
patent fact that the ancient river's course remains unchanged, and is at right angles to the
mountain chain. From all of which we see that the Eastern hemisphere's crescent hollow--
of which, I take it, the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Sea depressions are the
remains--has been gradually filled in, by the elevation of the sea's bottom, and the
extension of deltas from the detrital matter brought from the high interior of the
continents by the rivers, or by the combined action of the two. Now, since the Gulf of
Mexico has been constantly growing smaller, and the Mediterranean is being invaded by
the land, I reason that similar causes will produce like effects here, and give to each
continent an area far greater than our entire globe. The stormy ocean we behold in the
west, which corresponds to our Atlantic, though it is far more of a mare clausum in the
geographical sense, is also destined to become a calm and placid inland sea. There are, of
course, modifications of and checks to the laws tending to increase the land area. England
was formerly joined to the continent, the land connecting the two having been rather
washed away by the waves and great tides than by any sinking of the English Channel's
bottom, the whole of which is comparatively shallow. Another case of this kind is seen in
Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, all of which are washing
away so rapidly that they would probably disappear before the next Glacial period, were
we not engaged in preventing its recurrence. These detached islands and sand-bars once
formed one large island, which at a still earlier time undoubtedly was joined to the
mainland. The sands forming the detached masses are in a great processional march
towards the equator, but it is the result simply of winds and waves, there being no
indication of subsidence. Along the coast of New Jersey we see denudation and sinking
going on together, the well-known SUNKEN FOREST being an instance of the latter.
The border of the continent proper also extends many miles under the ocean before
reaching the edge of the Atlantic basin. Volcanic eruptions sometimes demolish parts of
headlands and islands, though these recompense us in the amount of material brought to
the surface, and in the increased distance they enable water to penetrate by relieving the
interior of part of its heat, for any land they may destroy."