RECORD: Darwin, C. R. Geological diary: Bay of Islands, New Zealand. (12.1835) CUL-DAR37.802-811 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, 9.2009, corrections and editing by John van Wyhe 9.2010, 5.2011. RN4

NOTE: This document, part of the largest scientific document composed by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, is written mostly in ink. Where pencil was used instead this is noted in the textual notes. Paper size 20 x 26 cm.

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

See the introduction to the Geological Diary by Gordon Chancellor.




Bay of Islands. New Zealand

The commonest rock near the Anchorage, is of a doubtful nature: — it is a compact, slate coloured Feldspathic (?) stones 2395 2396. it is crossed by an infinite ferruginous veins, which stand out in a relief of these & follow no determined directions. (a) — This rock is associated with others of the same kind but with a more crystalline structure even partaking of the characters of Greenstones 2397 2400, on the other hand in places, it passes into pale stained, soft argillaceous stones, some of which even appear like sandstones. 2398 3412 — I found the first or ordinary kind containing small, globular concretions of a much harder, & more compact variety 3411 — This formation shows little or no signs of stratification or cleavage. As Trappean rocks are abundant in parts of the Island I remain in doubt whether these belong to this class, or perhaps more probably to clay-slates which are known frequently to become of a more indurated even crystalline structure. A few miles inland, at a spot called Waiomio we meet with a formation of a compact, pale-flesh-coloured Limestone 3401 3402 Lines containing this contains so many crystals of a

802 verso

(a) In the form of many of the small Islands in the Bay, I noticed a fact, which I believe is of common recurrence, but is not by me very easily explicable. — At low water the figure of the island is a hill [sketch] surrounded by a low level ledge of naked rock, which is only covered at nearly the time of high water. The appearance is, as if the sun tide at that particular period has a greater action power in degrading the rock than at any other. — Does Is the lengthened exposure of the atmosphere favourable to decomposition? It is clear such part the surface of the ledge is only covered by water during a short part of the 24 hours each tide. — Moreover such a surface would be but very partially protected by sea weed or any marine production. — (z) of course this form could only be expected to be found, in Harbors, where the water waves are never seldom violently agitated into a violent surf. — (z: In whatever manner the course effect is produced it is clearly dependent on the limits of the rise of the tides; hence of course &c.

V. R N p 38

NB I observe this fact near Hobart town: & I am sure I remember its occurrence generally. Chiloe. Falklands. T del Fuego &c &c.




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similar kind, as almost to give to the whole rock a Crystalline structure. In many places minute far rounded particles are imbedded in lines, & in such quantity as to render the Limestone impure. — The rock is stratified in nearly horizontal planes. — bare masses stand out, like in the form of Castles or fortified towns, & amidst the green undulating country have a rather a singular appearance. — Besides the singularity in form on the large scale, the surface of this compact rock has been acted on by the rains in a very extraordinary manner. — We may see in miniature an exact model of an Alpine country; the crest sharpness of the crest of the ridges & the steepness of the lateral ravines are perhaps rather charicatured. — In the immediate neighbourhead there are strata of a white Flint or charty rock 3403, & others of a dark hard, very heavy, purplish brown, ferruginous-aluminous stone. 3404 — Also the dubious Feldspathic kind 3400; & an abundant rock formation of a grey colour, containing cyst of glassy Feldspar 2399 & a few balls of Mesotype (?). — These two




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last rocks occur frequently in the surrounding country. — In the gravel of the rivers, a hard clay-slate appeared the prevalent kind, & which must contain grey calcarous connections, surrounding impression of some organic substance in the centre. 3405 — The whole of these rocks, may be compared, in their mineralogical nature to the older parts of the secondary rocks of England. — I walked to Waimate, which lies in the centre of this linear part of the Island, & is about 15 miles distant from the Bay. — On the whole road, the rocks. were such as would be called Trappean but the others certainly Volcanic. — There was much of a grey Basalt, but seldom containing many Crystals, sometimes slightly vesicular & Amygdaloid, its structure frequently columnar 3407. The other most abundant kind is a greenstone (?) with crystals of glossy Feldspar. like 2399 3406 — At a small village on the road, the whole surface was covered with shaggy & highly vesicular Lavas, — in a neighbouring broken down hill, the form of a Crater could be traced. — I heard of another

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I saw some specimens of Crystalline Sulphur from an old crater, near Waimate




New Zealand

whose figure is perfect. — Near Waimate, two or three truncated — conical hills, are said to be surmounted by a deep circular cavities, & clearly have, at one time, existed as active Volcanos. — At the present day there is no trace of any recent action; — the whole of this part of the country is covered up by very thick strata masses of a pale coloured clay. — a good deal of this I believe to be Wacke, like that in Tahiti, which has resulted from the decomposition of the Lavas. Part no doubt proceeds either from alluvial action or from subaqueous deposition. — I do not doubt, that much of the Crystalline rocks, has flowed, as Lava beneath the sea. — I suspect that Tertiary strata are formations likewise are to be found in this Isld. — the Revd Mr Clarke1 gave me a specimen of a black Lignite, in which the vegetable fibres are so very distinct that the whole substance almost resembles an altered Peat. 3410 — The structure is described as being nearly 6 ft thick; it is inclined, & is covered by a Slate rock. — The section is exposed on the West coast. — This coral is used by the

1 George Clarke (1798-1875), a missionary at Waimate, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.




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inhabitants for their domestic purposes. — I likewise heard of Lignite in other localities. All such examples should be recorded (a); if they should ever be proved to be of a Tertiary epoch, their quantity it would show, that the abundance of coal in the coal formation of Europe was owing, not to the age, but to the circumstances, under which it was accumulated. — Mr Clarke gave me also some specimens, from the west coast of a singular, white softish calcareous stone, containing scattered, (or in planes,) very numerous minute, dark green, round, atoms of chlorite (?) & a few grains of Quartz. 3408 3407 —

Are there green grains of concretionary origin? There are other varieties, much finer grained 3409: the rock appears stratified. — In several places I heard of cliffs of a soft sandstone, containing so many pebbles as to pass into a conglomerate. — In connection with the above so conjectured Tertiary formation, I may mention, that in all parts, round the Bay, to the height of some yards the ground is strewed with shells, such as are found on the Sea, beach. That immense

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(a) It will be remembered, how abundant coal & Lignite is on the shores of New South Wales & Van Diemen Land. —




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quantities have been carried inland, is unquestionable. — Every hill has, some time or other been fortified & occupied as a Pas; Hence, we there find great piles of shells. This explanation does not appear to me sufficient fo for the appearance. — I believe, as in S. America, the land has been raised. In this view of the question, I am however opposed to every resident, with whom I convened on the subject. — Earthquakes are rarely, if ever experienced in this part of the Island. — But that the land, has been raised, within a limit of time, not exceedingly remote, I conceive an com observation obligingly communicated to me by the Revd W. Williams1 almost amounts to a positive proof. — In the valley of the Thames river, which lies [blank space] leagues to the South of the Bay of Islands, there are on each side three terraces. — the wall of each is about 50 ft high, — the valley is here from 6-7 miles wide; its bottom & the terraces are composed of an enormous quantity of rounded pebbles of Pumice & cellular Basalt. — Mr Williams

1 William Williams (1800-1878), first Bishop of Waiapu.




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in his Mss. notes describes the valley as having a rar singular & highly artificial appearance. — in a section, which he had drawn, it was impossible not to overlook the identity of structure in these terraces, with those in the valleys on the coast of S. America. — We may hence safely draw similar conclusions, respecting their origin & formation. (a) I conceive the investigation of the subject of the elevation of the land in every point of the globe is well worthy of attention. — The day will perhaps arrive, when it shall be shown, that out of the land, which at the present day time exists above the level of the ocean, there is but a small portion, which has not undergone some permanent movements within the period of recent shells. — I should not omit to mention, that in the Northern part of the Island, Earthquakes are rarely if ever experienced. — By looking at a chart, it will be seen, that the northern part of the Island consists of a narrow stripe of land, which runs nearly NW & SE. — It has been remarked that the in another paper

808 verso

I may also remark that in the chart of the mouth of the river [Jokeehangar] (west coast) by Capt. Hurd,1 the words "high ground covered with shells" are placed on the promontory which forms the entrance on the southern side. —

1 Thomas Hannaford Hurd (1747-1823), captain in the Royal Navy. Darwin refers to a chart 'The Western part of the Bermuda Islands surveyed...1788-1797'. The chart is also mentioned in Coral reefs p. 204.




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that this direction is common to the Islands in the whole Pacifick ocean. As Dr Fitton1 has pointed out, in New Holland, that there are two systems of coast & mountains, lines which run in directions at right angles to each other, in a similar manner, perhaps the Southern Isd & the South part of the other upper one have a direction (a) (a) of NE & SW, which is at right angles to NW & SE one already pointed out. The northern stripe of land, is hilly, but can scarcely be considered as mountainous; its outline is smooth, undulating & its surface waterworn. — Large masses of strata appear to have been removed & in several places I noticed huge rounded boulders, but as these consisted of rocks, similar to what are found in all part, they may not have traveled far. — I have shown that in its geological formation we find the some compact sedimentary rocks, some of which probably of are not of a very recent date, whilst others perhaps belong to the Tertiary era. But crystalline or volcanic rocks, in the neighbourhead, of the Bay of islands, would appear to be the

1 William Henry Fitton was the author of the geological appendix to King 1827.

809 verso

(a) This is well seen in the points parallel points & headlands on the Southern side of Cook's Straits, which divides the two Islands. —




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most prevalent kinds. — In the Southern & main part of the Island, the land becomes very mountainous. — M. Egmont is described as being 1400 ft high. — In the interior it is confidently asserted there is an active volcano. — It is certain, that in this part, Earthquakes, are commonly experienced. — Mr W Williams, described, to me a large active Volcano, which he had seen in full energy activity, as composing a small Island in the Bay of Plenty on the East coast. — Also another Island covered with rugged & nearly lava marked streams of Lava. — On the mainland there are many springs of hot water & I heard of one of Pitch. — These volcanic districts of in the Northern Island of New Zealand, may from its position & direction of its coast. be with propriety described as the SE termination of the great band of volcanic action, which contains the parallel lines of New Caledonia




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New Hebrides, New Zealand & New Guinea. —

811 verso

In Astrolabe Voyage Vol. II1 Rutherford in a work entitled "New Zealanders" says shells of oysters are found three feet beneath the ground and 10 miles from the coast.

1 d'Urville 1830, vol. 2, p. 570.

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