RECORD: Darwin, C. R. Geological diary: Valparaiso (appendix to p. 47). (2.1835) CUL-DAR36.420-422 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, corrections and editing by John van Wyhe 6.2011. RN2

NOTE: This document, part of the largest scientific document composed by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, is written mostly in ink. Marginal notes are here integrated into the text. Page 47 = CUL-DAR36.419. Folio is continuation of geological diary for Chile from 36.419. See the Beagle Diary pp. 525-536.

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Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

See the introduction to the Geological Diary by Gordon Chancellor.


1835 Appendix to p 47. — Valparaiso

Having seen in Chiloe the immense quantities of shells carried by the inhabitants to considerable heights & distances from the sea, I was determined to reexamine with scrupulous care all the localities.

Proceeding along the bold rocky coast from the [Playonche] at very many spots, or rather nearly continuously there were beds of shells from about 60 ft to 232 ft above the level of the sea (barom observ). — Mr Alison,1 a person gentleman interested in all scientific pursuits, kindly accompanied me to join give me his opinion. — We thought all the above to have been a marine deposition, from the following reasons: The beds consist of very numerous shells generally in a broken, rounded fragments. —

are the same as such as now exist in same proportion. — they lie on a hardened red breccia of granitic fragmnets, — are stained red, are brittle & appear very old; the different kinds are migled together. — I noticed in T. del Fuego, the most ancient heaps of shells collected by the savages retain a conical form & finds generally in groups. — These beds occur in small flat points; in two cases large quantities were seated placed on the edge of a precipitous cliff 200 ft high, & no where very near could a man descend. — These points are quite defenceless & no

1 Robert Edward Alison (d. 1854), English author and resident of Valparaiso and later managing director of a Chilean mining company who wrote on South American affairs.

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1835 Valparaiso — Elevation of the land

water is to be found near. — Why should people bring shell-fish to such places. — Amongst the shells were considerable number of minute Concholepas. Patella & Crepidilae. Concholepas, Mytili, Turbos: the first kinds might probably have adhaered to the larger ones: the latter kind could, but I think improbably. — A Guiso Chilean man himself having been a fisherman, remarked of his own accord when i told him what I was investigating, that "people never would bring such small shells to eat" (a) — Mr Alison has subsequently written to me & assured that in a ravine to the South of the above points & about 300 yards from the sea. I observed that it has intersected several strat of shells leaving them exposed on both sides of the ravine: or one heard they ascended in a series of steps or beaches forming a little hill about 80 ft high are from the beach of the same & about 350 ft) about level of the sea. — The face of the hill ws much covered with brush-wood, so that it as only by pulling it up & removing the earth, that the shells could be found, & the steps were not well defined. — The situationis almost inaccessible from the sea — thought the shells are very small ones [illeg] specimens of the shells from the highest point; there were many small Concholepas &c, they appeared vert old. Even the purple

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(a) omitted

Not far from the 232 ft beds there is a round hill 557 ft. — on the summit of this there was a small bed of communuted shells. — We believe these are a marine deposit, solely from their aged appearance, the impassibility of the locality & chiefly from the large proportional numbers of small Concholepas, Turbos & Mytili specimen 2761).

I should remark that the perforation of the Concholepas can be scarcely be considered a proof that it was lying dead on the beach: because in recent fresh state the hole of the minute animal belonging to the Balanidae almost render extends to the inner surface, a little weathering would complete the aperture. — With respect to the more elevated situations mentioned in my paper I can produce no certain evidence — I strongly doubt whether such shells ever were brought but I can bring no amount of preseumptive evidence to bear.

I am assured that marine shells are found in the inland basin of Casa Blanco (800 ft above the sea)


1835 Valparaiso elevation of the land

Turbo & Mytilus being nearly colorless. —

Mr Alison also remarks what I formerly had observed that the shells from the higher parts have are in a much more advanced stage of decomposition, than those lower down: which very certainly shows that the rise could not have been per saltum. —

Several authors have mentioned the considerable extent to which the land has gained on the sea, within a short period at Valparaiso. — Mr Alison the following information for me. — There is now standing a very small part (almost concealed) of the "Prefil" or sea wall of Valparaiso, which runs from Cruz de Reyes to the Arsenal: it was built about 1680 & was of very considerable elevation; but up to the year 1817 the sea broke over it during the [illeg] & washed the houses on the opposite side of the way (at the foot of an old Fort on the present site of the Prison) up to the year 1817. — Mr John Martin, a ship carpenter of this place, mentions that in 1819 he has walked at the foot of this wall on the beach, & has been frequently obliged to climb up to the street to avoid the sea." — At the present day, between this

See Darwin 1837 where this material was published.

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