RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 3.1836. Geological diary: King George's Sound. CUL-DAR38.858-863. Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, corrections and editing by John van Wyhe 9.2009, corrections by Gordon Chancellor 3.2011. RN3

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. Marginal notes are here integrated into the text. The paper size is uniform, 20 x 32 cm.

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.


Tuesday [8 March 1836?]

Granite on a promontory does penetrated by a very great number of veins, — within the space of 80 yards there must have 10 dikes, generally 3 - 4 ft wide, composed all of one, bright green, greenstone, (3548). Large Crystals of Feldspar terminate, in points & send off small thread shaped veinlets. — In one part, more greenstone than Granite. — line of all veins about E & W, which was common to the promontory & two small outlying Islands — This line appears common to some of the hills & island, in all parts of the Sound. —
Granite near Oyster bay: quartz ferruginous — mica occasionally replaced by Horn-blende: in some places ingredients showing tendency to linear arrangement about NNE & NW in which plane. great stratum of a Granite almost composed of enormous Crystals of feldspar. — In patches on hill side — very ferruginous Conglomerate. — said to occur frequently together with Sandstone.

Bald head & adjoining points I visited Bald Head which has been mentioned in the voyages of Vancouver, Flinders, King, in company with Captain FitzRoy, to inspect the Calcareous rock, which has assumed the peculiar forms [word deleted]. — We agreed perfectly in our conclusion regarding line between Bald head & adjoining points consist of conical massive hills of Granite. — Give proofs of general horizontal deposition, out of which Granite Hills arise. We found Bald head capped with an enclosed in the greater part of its circuit, with folds of sedimentary rock, which in parts attain considerable thickness. — the lowest stratum, was a compact fine grained, either grey or yellowish sandstone, the siliceous

858 verso

K. Georges Sound
March 1836

1 m m
Tosca Rock
From degradation show, irregular line, or steep slope. —

Shells same as now abundant. — no doubt about being well f embedded. —


particles cemented with a considerable quantity of calcareous matter: generally the strata are subject to variation, from such & much softer sandstone, which latter are more calcareous. to pure white rather friable, calcareous Tufa.: [few words deleted] this again has generally its upper & some included layers hard of the nature of Holartite. In one spot was some red, calc sand, & much yellowish only very slightly agglutinated. The stratification of these masses, is very obscure & very irregularly constructed: — on a large scale, they clearly form folds over the steep, conical granite nucleus. I found clearly of developed layers dipping at ∠ 30˚. to those who are familiar to the appearance of inclined strata, will be aware, that this appears very considerable. — I look at this fact with some interest. — There were inclined current cleavages: In the upper parts, the slightly agglutinated sand & some of the [Calarus] contains many thousand of a blended Bilumi, 2 Helix & a wood lice, but not a trace of marine remains. — one section which I obtained, was nearly 15 ft vertical, the whole of it abounded with these shells: the lowest layers was the sand & had then a stratum of a very compact variety of the Tosca rock, & one or two great veins or plates of the same; above the the compact Tosca, a layer a few rocks thick of a breccia of the hard Tosca, in the same & earthy


must have been purely calcareous: — Respecting the origin of so much calcareous matter, Peron attributes it to the presence of comminuted shells — of these such fragments, I could not not hoping perceive, at this place, no sight vestiges: indeed it appears to me, only removing the difficulty one step further back. — I incline to be taken, [attribute the paragraph], to a period of volcanic energy agency in this SW extremity of Australia, which period is perhaps also pointed out by the numbers of Trappean dikes, traversing the Granite rocks. — It will be seen in Dr Fittons appendix, that the formation, to which the strata of K. George's Sound belong, is an immense or extended one extending on: It covers on the West coast over, a space of 25 degrees of Latitude & the same in Longitude, & even being is found in the gulf of Carpentaria. From imbedded shells found examined by the French naturalists, it appears certain that the formation is of very recent date. — The calcareous parts, and as has

already shown been mentioned, strictly resembles, a similar great formation in S. America; it will hence be seen, that such rocks, although not very abundant in Europe, in the geology of globe, hold a conspicuous place. — I have described in detail all the circumstances at Bald Head, both from the interest attached to any disputed point, but chiefly because the existence of alternating strata of solid rock, formed out of water, was to me quite a novel fact.

general horizontal covering a coarse brown ferruginous Iron stone, often conglomerate & vesicular structure.

[text below top text in opposite direction]

at such points, during the earlier stages of the general elevation, we must believe, that small Island would be formed, composed solely of the calcareous rocks, & sandstones. — Eventually these Islands by fresh exertions of the subterraneous forces, might be converted into promontories & parts of the main land. — Bearing in mind [blank space] there can be no doubt, that the progression changes, pointed out, have here did originally there take place.

page in pencil.

must have been purely calcareous...quite a novel fact.] in right margin written along vertical axis



varieties, again soft calcareous sandstone, earthy Tosca & capped as is so generally the case, by those very hard varieties, whose structure is like that of a stalactite (3535. 3536). I may here observe to the example of the Pampas & N. Patagonia & B. Oriental, & on the West of Cord. at St Jago, & Coquimbo, we have this other one of a white calcareous stone with an earthy fracture, having its upper surface compact & stalactiform. To it a subaqueous process like stalactite in corals, it seems difficult at first to credit this, but I think so many examples prove it. —

Finding such rocks anyone would suppose a subaqueous process

Bearing in mind Bald head is a very narrow steep ridge perhaps 600 ft high & taking into consideration the necessary origin of the strata which by a depression of the land would form an Island, such as Michaelmas Isd — (Flinders), which is similarly constituted. — Let us consider the origin of these beds, before we take into consideration the contested origin of the branches — We might imagine that at a former period that volcanic action when the land stood at a lower level, the calcareous & sandy beds, ferrugeous matter fine quartz in particles were deposited in a sea adjoining. the land & would [illeg] all hills projecting points of Granite. — When these were elevated by our present appearance would be presented. the question immediately when proceeded, the hundred of thousands of Bulimi, formed in the upper beds, & which has not preserved a [illeg] of sea shells, & this an outlying Island. in the open ocean. On the very summit of a

Finding such rocks anyone would suppose a subaqueous process] added pencil.

taking into consideration the necessary origin of the strata] added pencil.

ferrugeous matter fine quartz in particles] added pencil.

860 verso

As the land gradually rose, a very small Island, entirely composed of calcareous rocks & Sandstone, would be formed. — cementing by renewed elevations the present figure would be gained

N.B. Sand amongst is sort of [sketch] like drift of wind.

Mem. wind in 5 or 6 ft water when [illeg] never dries. No

The breccia from having raised or other cause, would result from [harking] up of such a layer. —

Brattle, & semiarch. circle marked by rock
internal diameter a mile

Brattle...a mile] added pencil.



Island (in an arid country & sandy soil) to imagine a lake is quite futile. And it must be remembered a pool would not be sufficient for the whole, central (I did not visit extreme points), is thus constituted. — what the simple fact of enormous numbers of shells. — Let us however imagine a small Island produced [illeg] of the calcareous sandstones expand to a great surf. sand dunes would be immediately produced. & as we now see. These would swarm with Bulimi: — Mem. numbers. The appearance of subtraction These layers of calcareous matter or sandy matter. blow by the wind, & cemented by spray or rain. would form some of the irregular strata which have been described as alternating. — The earthy calcareous matter, having been exposed in various periods to the action of weather — would be consolidated. — Breccia I may also observe the soft appearance) Bold & starkly as this view was at first to me, to imagine sandstone & calcareous rock of so compact a nature, & with alternate strata, I feel fully cannot doubt convinced such must have been its origin. — Really this opinion in mind Now we come to those peculiarly formed, cylindrical projections standing vertically from the sands, which have was been described — Corals. ? ? — & branch of trees These occur in the greatest profusion, in the same strata with the Land shells: & to the same depth. — In figure they so entirely resemble roots & branches that Capt. FitzRoy asked each other, before torching them.

what the simple fact of enormous numbers of shells. —] added pencil.

Mem. numbers. The appearance of subtraction] added pencil.

Breccia I may also observe the soft appearance)] added pencil.

Really this opinion in mind] added pencil.

was been described] 'was' in pencil.

& branch of trees] added pencil.

861 verso

Mem. plates in crack from smallest roots.

Dr Paris in Cornwall action of Rain water on calcareous rock



which was which & it was not possible to tell. — How his take The greater number are nearly vertical, although many are inclined: 3 ft long they with very few exceptions branch downwards: roots growing into veins [ink] In our great open waters the sandstone had decomposed, they projected upwards of a foot. — were so close, that in every step many were broken. or [illeg] standing. — On side of cliffs, some in form of root, 30 ft perpendicular & this would suddenly bend in a horizontal direction. general diameter. — few — fringes, to wrist, & few bigger, & many smaller, but other strain: I hear these cylinders are generally composed of stalactiform Limestone, occasionally such only form the nucleus. the outer part dry either fine sandstone, or earthy fracture calcarus. — comparison Very commonly & like roots in centre, a few linear [camions], very minute (my specimens do not show this well), except (3547), & in these hair like cavities there are remains of woody fibres. The specimens do not Independent of these latter facts, nothing could I imagine calcareous matter by the action of weather has infiltrated, into places, as roots & branches of trees rotted way a coarse kind of petrifaction. — Specimens are not evidence. — cannot describe evidence, of general appearance. — Have seen stalactites, Dr Fitters opinion. — open with Peron. Stalactites of M. Video I do not believe, but am far from sure, agrees with Sanddune hypothesis that this process is now going on, but in early days, when there were sand dunes. Peron was told As the Island rose, sand dunes, would accumulate

How his take] added pencil.

roots growing into veins] added pencil.

I hear] added pencil.

comparison] added pencil.

& like roots] added pencil.

Independent of these latter facts, nothing could] added pencil.

a coarse kind of petrifaction] added pencil.

Have seen stalactites, Dr Fitters opinion. — open with Peron. Stalactites of M. Video] added pencil.

agrees with Sanddune hypothesis] added pencil.

Peron was told] added pencil.

862 verso

Seat of volcanic action this S W point of Australia. dike in Granite, modern elevated & calcareous matter. —

Dr Jack mentions again [rema] high up on Pulo Nias island W. coast of Sumatra

Tosca full of Carpentaria. [Stocero] Isd & sandstone similar to those of the North & NW coast

Calc. concretions abundant W. of Sharks Bay in [illeg] Isd. do — described by Peron & Freycinet Vol II P 168 vide References in Capt Kings Australia. —

expression is used of "stated" respecting trunks of trees crowded as Coral. Vancouver. 149. D. Entrecasteaux, II 175 ?
Peron full account formation extended to 25˚ degrees of Latitude & do of Long

Mem. [illeg] Stalactites at B. Oriental: — such as described by Dr Maccullock. — Quarterly Journal in Norfolk & perth, to which Dr Fitton adds Madeira
2-4 (1000)


On which bushes would grow, & shells flourish, on the flanck, these would be consolidated, & so on. Hence not only the summit, but some way down the sides would be so encased & this has so happened. — Is poor the [illeg] I may mention that fragments now thrown by the gales, become recemented into, a Breccia. — where does such a sea beach occur On the summit actual sand-dunes to this day. — I have spun this out, not as from [illeg], but from following reason Far the most important conclusion is alternate, although not regular, strata of such a nature formed in atmosphere! — *

M. Peron attributes origin of cementing calcareous matter to comminuted shells. — I to Mumie agency. — Expatiate the Brecciated Structure

Thinks there is no reason to believe that the circular stems are trunks of trees

Read Capt. King Lagoon in Barrier reef

From the presence of same [illeg] formation & shells. — at slow river, recent elevation on SW & W extremity of New Holland. — Put it into Coral Paper & References about E. Indian Archipelago. The monument of Lagoon Isd.

Quote extent of formation, & rise of land, calcareous past, not noticed in Europe

Is poor the [illeg]] added pencil.

where does such a sea beach occur] added pencil.

I have spun this out, not as from [illeg], but from following reason] added pencil.

Thinks there is no reason to believe that the circular stems are trunks of trees] added pencil.

Read Capt. King Lagoon in Barrier reef] added pencil.

From the presence...Archipelago.] added pencil.

Quote Europe] added pencil.

863 verso

9th In front of ship, rock slightly like gneiss, cleavage NNE, most obscure. — 1/2 a dozen dikes, parallel, one constitution, just black, small crystals of felspar, glittering aspect, specks of pyrites. — slightly transverse columnar structure, above a foot wide, one ramified & again found, within space of 100 yards. — direction about N by E. —

Further on, a mile, gneiss with very irregular cleavage — no fixed direction, one dyke — NW & SE direction — also mass of Greenstone, contacting many grains of quartz. — I am doubtful whether this does not rather belong to Granite formation. —

Again we saw more dykes & some very gneiss like Granite

M. Gardner. 1140 — Highest hill.
Rated how highest part 700 ft. —

This document has been accessed 10400 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 30 April, 2022