RECORD: Darwin, C. R. Sulivans outside deep soundings. (4.1836) CUL-DAR41.53-56 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, corrections and editing by John van Wyhe 3.2011. RN1

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. Darwin's time in the Cocos Keeling islands is recounted in the Beagle diary, pp. 413-419.

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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.



(Sulivans. outside deep soundings)

85 or 55) (doubtful from boat drifting,) coarse calc sand, fragments of dead coral. 203/10 square

bit of dead Gorgonia, living Corallina:

275) Impression of large Bivalve, little calc: sand

320). little calc sand

363). little calc sand

[4]30 coarse calc sand, bits of dead shells & Corallina 3/4 inch square, stony branched coral like those of T. del. Fuego —

Capt. FitzRoy. near to [Breakers]

1) 8F Beautifully marked with Astrea. quite clean; axis smooth probably alive

14) sparing calc sand, arming broken

[?]7) arming quite clean, irregularly marked

30 & 28) abundant calc sand

15, very little calc sand. arming much broken

53 verso

(30) calc sand abundant

(21) calc sand — do — arming broken

(16) calc sand, tolerably abundant, mark of something hard

(14) little calc sand; arming broken

(35) much calc sand, 4

Mr Sulivan thinks the latter time, depth 5-600 fathoms

Mem. the lines cut at great depth
؟ what depths. —

Mr Stuart1 came away his anchor in 13 F fathoms. & lead in 16. F: The Capt when sounding in 10 & 12 fathoms. frequently had the lead jammed, so as not to be without much difficulty to extricate it. — How the rough the bottom must be. —

At Anchorage most impalpable sand or mud

generally sand in the hollows. excepting Capt FitzRoy soundings & his in the deeper water chiefly only the filiaceous madrepore. —

1 Peter Benson Stewart, mate on the Beagle. Darwin also spelled his name as Stuart in the Beagle diary.




1 — 270 — 0.6 fraction of a mile:
2 70 — 0.3 = 0 4
3 190 — 0.6
4 190 0.3
5 26 0.2
No fathoms estimated distance

(1) Minute bits generally about 1/50 1/100 of inch (excepting one thin fragment of 1/20th) partly rounded of either shells or coral; a trace fragment of one. cell of a Flustra, which looked fresh, & [illeg] other colored red. —

(2) a bit of living sponge, arming marks, with rounded pebbles. & ∠r fragments, nearly 1/2 inch in size.

54a verso

(3) rates thin with serpulae. dead, white 1/2 inch in size of dead inarticulate corallina; sandy particles. — joint of white Halimeda: minute fragments of stony Cellariae 2 0r 3/10 long dead (like those of T del Fuego) & encrusting Flustrae, — a small shell allied to Terebratula = dead =

(4) very fine calcareous sand & as before fragments. all owing to shells & corals.

minute bits (1/50th of inch) of stony Flustraceae, all dead, (excepting one very minute kind, a stony cellaria of a scarlet color)

(5) As above, joint of Halimeda &c &c &c, coarser, — perhaps marks of pebbles .3 long: —

bits one or two or three tenths of inch. —

one piece, very old & dead. 1 1/2 x 2 x 3 1/2, tenth of inch of a lamelliform coral. — with this exception I



saw no trace of that order nor of any living thing excepting the minute, scarlet stony cellariae

Tuesday morning —

numerous bits of dead, stony milleporae. minute 1 to 2 long, corallinae, serpulae, & a scaly piece of Caryophillia (?) 3 square all white, brittle bleached 146 fathoms

237 fathom, armory almost clean, marked as fine sand with two or three particles of do

184 do — with minute bits of same substance as before

54b verso

(31) coarser, than any I have seen all dead, excepting perhaps a scarlet corallina — fragments scaly. some of them 1/2 inch square, 3/4th of them. corallina; one of them a bit of oyster shell, spine of Echi[nus]

The Corallina partially retained their red color, the rest much bleached. —

N.B. I feel little doubt abo[ut] the impression of pebbles noticed yesterday


38 marked with round pebbles; frag[ment] 2-3/10 square of dead coral. with bits living corallina attached to it

92 long piece of lately dead Gorgonia, fragments [of] dead coral & corallina (latter some living) 1/2 inch square




12) a little calc coarse sand, bits of dead corallina, & fragments one inch long. of very fresh living (or exceedingly fresh. millepora (of the branching species)

(17) calc. S. coarse: bits of dead coral

(18) one or two specks of calc. sand: the impression of some large coral

(20) well rounded piece & bleached [4] inch long 1 1/2 broad, of the plate millepora, much calc. sand:

(14) coarse calc sand, dead joints of Halimeda. in quantity bits of conch.

(19) coarsest fragments I have yet seen dead, old, well rounded, encrusted with living corallina Flustrae & a sigillina & seaweed 1 & 1/2 inch in diameter; others 1 inch

55a verso

branched stony millepora. — The 2d kind (& possibly Astrea); calc sand.

(14) calc sand small dead univalve, dead Halimeda joints; in tolerable quantity

(34) coarse calc sand, minute dead fragments of shells

(14) a very little calc sand, perhaps the lead struck on something solid

(10) armory came up perfectly clean. I could not trace any impressions

(11) armory, fresh broken pieces of a very fresh (of line) millepora, color very pale brown: (mem color of the branched kinds?) It is this color



(28) sparing calc sand

(12) armory almost clean, a mark one or two grains —

NB. Very many of the fragments appear of family of Corallinas — the rarity of shells, remarkable, in any but extreme comminuted state. the fineness of fragments even in shoal water: the probable entire absence of Astrea, because not easily broken. —

indeed all large fragments must be thrown up & small carried by recoil of the sea. —

or may conclude that generally deeper than 12 fathom all dead coral sand; a fathom or two of fragments. —

55b verso

Soundings in the Lagoon

The branched stony kinds grow in 3 fathoms. — & in seven a purplish brown thin pale kind seems common.

allied to Polypus to Madreporae. V. Nota B.


770) Fathoms little calc sand, with a body cellular body encrusted with dead serpulae. depth doubtful, 369 really

(240) coarse sand, chiefly joints of Halimeda, bits of [matted] old coral. one 3/4 x 1/2 inch & a vase of a pteripodous animal



to 12. fathoms armory clean: millepora; astrea

(above 20 — no sign of any thing hard. —)

(42 soundings. —)

even at great depth 1/2 inch square

few, but some dead fragments of shells, comminuted, non living. —; variously bleached Halimeda. & millepora living 92

few bits of various minute corals; flustra, Gorgonia, the bit of a lamelliform. — a scarlet cellaria alive 190

a case of pteripodous animal

sponge alive 70: Echinus

Sigillina, Flustra, Millipora, sea-weed 39

some doubt about living on account of drift. —

(4: inch diameter)


NB. action of sea. cause of slope: cliffs 360 500-600 cut

56a verso

inclination of Teyde 12°. 29'. Vesuvius 12° 41'. Etna 10° 13' — Cones of volcano have a medium slope from 39° to 40° — Humboldt

Even the steepest parts but. little exceeding. these numbers

N.B. Beechey near slope. from the 20 fathom line appear nearly 45. — but much less as our towards the end. —

[calculation] 4/10 [x] 1/4 = 4/40

[calculation] 8/20 [x] 1/4 = 8/80 [=] 1/10

Prejudice of unfathomable wall. —

18. soundings with bottom, above 30. several between 200 & 300 fathoms.

1. 2

[calculation] 12.00 [x] 6 [=] 72.00



section on the last side between the settlement & old house

[sketch] 15 yards 50 yards

near the last

[sketch] 5 yds 20 yds 50 yds

at this points the rocks at the foot of the beach (munia) was more rugged with lowe blocks on the top from one to 2 feet square. the beach covered with blocks of the same size, the reef also very rugged. —

NB. In this latter part the Breccia in one section extended to near the breakers. about 50 yd wide

There is no law about the extension of discoloured water. it is at least not less on the leeward. than windward side & the broardest part occurred there

no average width can be given in one spot nearly 200 yds

On eastern side whole reef (from breakers to beach) had average width of rather more than 100 yd: whilst on west side nearly 300 yd. — Breccia commonly not more than 10. or fewer hands. with some exceptions. —

Mr Sullivan seems to consider that very commonly the breccia has been torn up & cast on the beach. in loose fragments

If the lower part of a beach was consolidated & the land sunk a trifle, the appearances here presented all round the Island could probably be presented. —

56b verso [blank]

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