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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. G. Ehrenberg   11 March 18461

Berlin

d. 11 Maerz 1846.

Hochzuverehrender Herr

Ihre neue freundliche Zusendung von Gebirgsproben durch die Preuß. Gesandtschaft in London habe ich empfangen und ich würde mich schon längst beeilt haben Ihnen Nachricht darüber zu geben, wenn nicht eine schwere Krankheit meiner Frau mich fast ein halbes Jahr lang schon in meiner ganzen Correspondenz gestört hätte.

Folgende Mittheilungen mögen Ihnen anzeigen daß ich dessenungeachtet Ihre Wünsche nicht berücksichtigt gelassen habe.

1. Die Proben vom Gallegas Fluße in Patagonien zeigen zwar auch mikroskopische Organismen, aber ganz andere als die große weiße Tuff Masse von St. Cruz. Es sind Süßwasser—oder brakische Formen und nicht geglüht. Diese Ablagerungen schließen sich demnach an die von Monte Hermoso an. Übrigens habe ich das Organische nur in den 2 bimsteinartigen lockeren Proben besonders in der gelblichen gefunden .2

2 Sie wünschen ferner zu wissen ob das Wort Fluthgebiet einerley sey mit dem englischen Ausdruck Estuary deposit.3 Beides ist wohl ziemlich gleich bedeutend, doch könnte eine Ablagerung (deposit) im Fluthgebiete des Meeres eine Süßwasser Ablagerung seyn, während estuary deposit wohl entschieden stets des Meeres Ablagerung ist bei der Fluth. Das obere Fluthgebiet des Meeres im Festlande ist the upper district of the tide in a River or Continent, wo durch Aufstauung des Flußwassers und dessen Mischung stets brakische Deposits erfolgen, wie z.B. bei Hamburg 18 deutsche Meilen vom Meere ein oberes Fluthgebiet ist, bei Cuxhaven das untere. Das obere wird oft nur ausnahmsweise erreicht von der Fluth.

3. Die mir gesandte Probe von atmosphaerischen Staube aus Malta habe ich sogleich analysirt und das merkwürdige Resultat in unserer Akademie der Wissensch. vorgetragen.4 Ich habe darin 43 Organismen beobachtet, von denen 31 auch im Capverdischen Staube völlig gleichartig sind. Ihre gelehrte und so reichhaltige Zusammenstellung der Staub-Beobachtungen möchten Sie doch ja publiciren. Der Gegenstand scheint mir wichtig zu seyn und wenn auch unsere Ansichten über den Ursprung und die Luftzüge etwas differiren, so wird die dadurch angeregte fortgesezte Beobachtung doch bald die Wahrscheinlichkeits-Grenze finden. Es ist natürlich daß die bisher noch verhältnißmäßig geringe Zahl von geographischen Beobachtungen der mikroskopischen Organismen Sicherheit der Resultate nicht geben kann. Dennoch ist der Weg der Beobachtung der allein gangbare und das Resultat desselben das allein wissenschaftlich befestigende. Sie sind mitten in der herrlichsten Gelegenheit den ausfallenden Gegenstand weiter zu entwickeln.

Mit dieser oder irgend einer anderen nahen Gelegenheit erhalten Sie meine lezten Mittheilungen über diese Objecte. Meine freundlichsten Grüße schließen den jetzigen Brief.

Ich verbleibe in aufrichtiger Hochachtung | Ihr | freundlich ergebenster | Dr C G Ehrenberg

Sollten Sie gelegentlich mir einige Fragmente von jezt auf Ascension wachsenden Grasern senden können so wäre es mir sehr lieb zur Vergleichung. Nur müßten sichere Namen dabey seyn, sonst können es Blattfragmente oder Stengel Fragmente ohne botanischen Werth seyn, zoll groß.

CD annotations

‘(fresh water & brackish, not like white tuff—)’5 added pencil
scored pencil; ‘only part useful’added pencil
On cover: ‘Ch. IV & V’ pencil; ‘Thanks’ pencil ‘Hooker grasses; named species’ pencil, partially circled pencil; ‘V. my catalogue’6 pencil ‘Beaufort Dusts’7 pencil ‘Cordillera rock’ pencil

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter see Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix I.
The information in this paragraph was used in South America, p. 117. It led CD to conclude that ‘the 200 to 300 feet plain at Port Gallegos is of unknown age, but probably of subsequent origin to the great Patagonian tertiary formation.’
CD quoted this letter as his authority in correcting mistranslations of Ehrenberg’s term ‘Fluthgebiete’. Previously, it had been translated by Alcide d’Orbigny as a ‘flood’, lending support to Orbigny’s view that the Pampas deposits had been laid down by a debacle. See South America, p. 248 n., and letter to C. G. Ehrenberg, 29 October [1845], n. 2.
Ehrenberg 1845c, pp. 377–81.
The information was used in South America, p. 117, see n. 2, above.
A reference to CD’s catalogue of Beagle plant specimens which had been sent to Joseph Dalton Hooker by John Stevens Henslow.
This entry and CD’s subsequent letter to C. G. Ehrenberg, 25 March [1846], indicate that CD followed up the Atlantic dust problem with the Hydrographer’s Office, but no letter to Francis Beaufort on the subject has been found; nor is there any further mention of this question in the extant correspondence until 23 November 1876, when CD wrote to Julius Victor Carus stating that he did not know why he had doubted his Atlantic dust paper and he now thought it worth translating.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

Translation

From C. G. Ehrenberg   11 March 18461

Berlin

11 March 1846

Most honoured Sir

I have received your kind new shipment of mountain samples through the Prussian embassy in London and I would have hastened long ago to give you news of it if the severe illness of my wife had not disturbed my entire correspondence for almost half a year.

Nevertheless the following information may indicate to you that I have not left your wishes unattended.

1. The samples from the River Gallegos in Patagonia also show microscopic organisms, but completely different ones from the large white tuff mass from St. Cruz. They are freshwater—or brackish forms and not fused. Accordingly these deposits are related to those of Mount Hermoso. Incidentally I found organic material only in the 2 friable pumice-like samples especially in the yellowish one.2

2 In addition, you want to know whether the word Fluthgebeit is identical with the English expression Estuary deposit.3 They both mean much the same thing, but an Ablagerung (deposit) in a Fluthgebeit of the sea could be a freshwater deposit, whereas estuary deposit is definitely always a deposit of the sea in a tidal area. The obere Fluthgebeit des Meeres im Festlande is the upper district of the tide in a River or Continent. Here the blocking up of the river water and its mixing [with seawater] always results in brackish deposits, e.g. near Hamburg there is an upper tidal district 18 German miles from the sea, and a lower tidewater district at Cuxhaven. The tide reaches the upper one only on occasion.

3. I immediately analysed the sample of atmospheric dust that was sent to me from Malta, and I reported the remarkable result to our Academy of Science.4 I observed 43 organisms in it, of which 31 are exactly like those in the Cape Verde dust. You would certainly want to publish your learned and comprehensive collection of dust observations. The matter seems important to me and even if our views on the origin of the dust and winds differ somewhat, the continued observation that would be stimulated thereby would soon establish the boundaries of probability. It is to be expected that the relatively small number of geographical observations of microscopic organisms made so far cannot give definitive results. Nevertheless the path of observation is the only one to follow and its result alone can give scientific confirmation. You are in the midst of a most magnificent situation for developing the resulting material further.

You will receive my last report on these matters either on this occasion or another one soon. My heartiest greetings close this letter.

I remain with sincere respect | Your most humble | Dr C G Ehrenberg

If you have the opportunity to send me some fragments of grasses now growing on Ascension I should like them for comparison. There must be dependable names on them, but they can be leaf fragments or stem fragments without botanic value, an inch in size.

Footnotes

For the transcription of this letter in the original German and CD’s annotations, see Correspondence vol. 3, pp. 298–9.
The information in this paragraph was used in South America, p. 117. It led CD to conclude that ‘the 200 to 300 feet plain at Port Gallegos is of unknown age, but probably of subsequent origin to the great Patagonian tertiary formation.’
CD quoted this letter as his authority in correcting mistranslations of Ehrenberg’s term ‘Fluthgebiete’. Previously, it had been translated by Alcide d’Orbigny as a ‘flood’, lending support to Orbigny’s view that the Pampas deposits had been laid down by a debacle. See South America, p. 248 n., and letter to C. G. Ehrenberg, 29 October [1845], n. 2.
Ehrenberg 1845c, pp. 377–81.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

Summary

Describes Infusoria in Rio Gallegos samples.

"Fluthgebiete" means estuary deposit.

Discusses dust samples from Malta. Asks for further samples.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-960
From
Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Berlin
Source of text
DAR 39: 62–3
Physical description
3pp (German) †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 960,” accessed on 18 October 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-960.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3

letter