To S. P. Woodward 9 [July 1860]1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
I am very sorry to say that I cannot answer one of your questions.—2 Von Buch or Johnston’s Phys. Atlas would probably tell number of Volcanos.—3 I am nearly certain there are the best remarks of anybody’s on antiquity of sub-aerial volcano in Lyell Principles or Elements on Auvergne;4 I remember being astonished at their antiquity.— Degradation would prevent any sub-aerial volcano in a recognizable condition being of excessive antiquity. St. Helena of which upper part at least is sub-aerial, struck me as of extreme antiquity. The Canary isld. from littoral miocene shells must as a volcanic group be very old.—5
I entirely & absolutely disagree with Von Buch’s elevation-crater-theory—indeed I think it proved false.6 As there are so-considered volcanic ash beds in oldest formations, viz Silurian, no doubt sub-aerial Volcanos has always existed,—or at least probably, for on reflexion I do not suppose volcanic mud & ashes when stratified under water could be distinguished.—
I am very glad to hear about your Brother.7
I am sorry that I cannot answer your queries.—
In Haste | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
The Cordillera were volcanic with islands since early part of Cretaceous period or older; but I do not say that the volcanoes were sub-aerial—some stream however flowed in not deep water—8
Iceland from Miocene plants must have been volcano since that period— I suspect that this oldest ascertained volcano.—
Regrets he cannot answer SPW’s questions.
Discusses antiquity of subaerial volcanoes.
Disagrees "entirely & absolutely" with L. von Buch’s "elevation-crater-theory".
- Letter no.
- Charles Robert Darwin
- Samuel Pickworth Woodward
- Sent from
- Source of text
- The Natural History Museum (Gen. lib. MSS/ DAR: 2)
- Physical description