[Zetetic Astronomy] (7) Thoughts upon Tides and the Constitution of the Earth
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[Zetetic Astronomy] (7) Thoughts upon Tides and the Constitution of the Earth


Thoughts upon Tides and the Constitution of
the Earth The doctrine of the Earth’s rotundity being
fallacious, all ideas of “centre of attraction of gravitation,” “mutual attraction of Earth
and Moon,” &c., &c., must be given up; and the cause of tides in the ocean must be sought
for in another direction. It is certain that there is a constant pressure of the “atmosphere
upon the surface of the Earth and ocean”. This is proved by ordinary barometrical observations,
many Pneumatic experiments, and by the fact that during the most fearful storms at sea
the surface only is disturbed; at the depth of a hundred feet the water is always calm
— except in the path of well-marked currents and local submarine phenomena. The following
quotations gathered from casual reading fully corroborate this statement.
From Chambers’s Journal :- It is amazing how superficial is the most
terrible tempest Divers assure us that in the greatest storms calm water is found at
the depth of 90 feet. From the Penny Cyclopaedia, Article on “Sea”
:- This motion of the surface of the sea is not
perceptible to a great depth. In the strongest gale it is supposed not to extend beyond 72
feet below the surface; and at the depth of 90 feet the sea is perfectly still”
From the London Saturday Journal :- The people are under a great mistake who believe
that the substance of the water moves to any considerable depth in a storm at sea. It is
only the form or shadow which hurries along like a spirit, or like a thought over the
countenance of the “great deep” at the rate of some forty miles an hour. Even when
the “Flying Dutchman” is abroad the great mass of water continues undisturbed and nearly
motionless a few feet below the surface. From Maury’s “Physical Geography” :-
The unabraded appearance of the shells brought up from great depths, and the almost total
absence of the mixture of any detritus from the sea, or foreign matter, suggest most forcibly
the idea of perfect repose at the bottom of the deep sea
Bearing this fact in mind, that there exists a continual pressure of the atmosphere upon
the Earth, and associating it with the fact that the Earth is a vast plane “stretched
out upon the waters” and it will be seen that it must of necessity slightly fluctuate,
or slowly rise and fall in the water. As by the action of the atmosphere the Earth is
slowly depressed, the water moves towards the receding shores and produces the flood
tide; and when by the reaction of the resisting oceanic medium the Earth gradually ascends
the waters recede, and the ebb tide is produced. This is the general cause of tides. Whatever
peculiarities are observable they may be traced to the reaction of channels, bays, headlands,
and other local causes. If a raft, or a ship, or any other structure
floating upon water be carefully observed, it will be seen to have a gentle fluctuating
motion. However calm the water and the atmosphere may be, this gradual rising and falling of
the floating mass is always more or less observable. If vessels of different sizes are floating
near each other they will be seen to fluctuate with different velocities, the largest and
heaviest will move the least rapidly. This motion will be observable whether the vessels
be held by their anchors, or moored to buoys, or freely floating in still water. A large
and heavily laden vessel will make several fluctuations in a minute of time; the Earth
once only in about twelve hours, because it is proportionately larger.
To this simple condition of the Earth, — the action or pressure upon it of the atmosphere,
and the reaction or resistance to it of the water, may be traced all the leading peculiarities
of the tides. The simultaneous ebb and flow upon meridians 180° apart The absence of
high and low water in large inland seas and lakes; which being contained within and fluctuating
with the Earth cannot therefore show a relative change in the altitude of the surface.
The flux and reflux observed in several inland wells and basins though far from the sea,
but being connected with it by subterranean passages, necessarily show a relative difference
in the surface levels of the earth and water. And the regular ebb and flood of the water
in the great Polar sea recently discovered by Dr. Kane, although it is separated from
the great tidal current of the Atlantic Ocean by deep barriers of ice — as will be seen
by the following quotation, also from Maury :—
Dr. Kane reported an open sea north of the parallel of 82°. To reach it his party crossed
a barrier of ice 80 or 100 miles broad. Before gaining this open water he found the thermometer
to show the extreme temperature of — 60°. Passing this icebound region by travelling
North, he stood on the shores of an ice-less sea extending in an unbroken sheet of water
as far as the eye could reach towards the pole. Its waves were dashing on the beach
with the swell of a boundless ocean. The tides ebbed and flowed in it, and I apprehend that
the tidal wave from the Atlantic can no more pass under this icy barrier to be propagated
in seas beyond than the vibrations of a musical string can pass with its notes a “fret”
upon which the musician has placed his finger. These tides therefore must have been born
in that cold sea, having their cradle about the North Pole; and we infer that most, if
not all, the unexplored regions about the Pole are covered with deep water; for, were
this unexpected area mostly land, or shallow water, it could not give birth to regular
tides. That the Earth has a vibratory or tremulous
motion, such as must necessarily belong to a floating and fluctuating structure, is abundantly
proved by the experience of astronomers and surveyors. If a delicate spirit-level be firmly
placed upon a rock or upon the most solid foundation which it is possible to construct,
the very curious phenomenon will be observed of constant change in the position of the
air-bubble. However carefully the “level” may be adjusted, and the instrument protected
from the atmosphere, the “bubble” will not maintain its position many seconds together.
A somewhat similar influence has been noticed in astronomical observatories, where instruments
of the best construction and placed in the most approved positions cannot always be relied
upon without occasional re-adjustment. Chemical analysis proves to us the important
fact that the great bulk of the Earth — meaning thereby the land as distinct from the waters
— is composed of metallic oxides or metals in combination with oxygen. When means are
adopted to remove the oxygen it is found that most of these metallic bases are highly combustible.
The different degrees of affinity existing among the elements of the Earth, give rise
to all the rocks, minerals, ores, deposits, and strata which constitute the material habitable
world. The different specific gravities or relative densities which these substances
are found to possess, and the numerous evidences which exist of their former plastic or semi-fluid
condition, afford positive proof that from a once commingled or chaotic state regular
but rapid precipitation, stratification, crystallisation, and concretion. successively occurred; and
that in some way not yet clear to us sufficient chemical action was produced to ignite a great
portion of the Earth, and to reduce it to a molten incandescent state, the volatile
products of which being forcibly eliminated have broken up the stratified formations,
and produced the irregular confused condition which we now observe. That such an incandescent
molten state of a great portion of, the lower parts of the Earth still exists is a matter
of certainty; and there is evidence that the heat thus internally generated is gradually
increasing. [The natural philosopher M. Jean Louis Armand
de Quatrefages de Bréau writes in his Souvenirs d’un naturaliste :-]
The uppermost strata of the soil share in all the variations of temperature which depend
upon the seasons; and this influence is exerted to a depth which, although it varies with
the latitude, is never very great. Beyond this point the temperature rises in proportion
as we descend to greater depths, and it has been shown, by numerous and often-repeated
experiments, that the increase of temperature is on average one degree (Fahrenheit) for
about every 545 feet. Hence it results that at a depth of about twelve miles from the
surface, we should be on the verge of an incandescent mass
Prof. Louis Gaussen of Geneva writes in “The World’s Birthday” :-
So great is the heat within the Earth, that in Switzerland, and other countries where
the springs of water are very deep, they bring to the surface the warm mineral waters so
much used for baths and medicine for the sick; and it is said, that if you were to dig very
deep down into the Earth, the temperature would increase at the rate of one degree of
the thermometer for every 1 00 feet; so that, at the depth of 7000 feet, or one mile and
a half, all the water that you found would be boiling; and at the depth of about ten
miles all the rocks would be melted A day will yet come when this earth will be
burned up by the fire. There is fire, as you have heard, within it, ready to burst forth
at any moment”. [This earth], although covered all round with
a solid crust, is all on fire within. Its interior is supposed to be a burning mass
of melted, glowing metals, fiery gas, and boiling lava
The solid crust which covers this inward fire is supposed not to be much more than from
9 to 12 miles in thickness. Whenever this crust breaks open, or is cleft in any place,
there rush out lava, fire, melted rocks, fiery gases, and ashes, sometimes in such floods
as to bury whole cities. From time to time we read of the earth quaking, trembling, and
sometimes opening, and of mountains and small islands (which are mountains in the sea) being
thrown up in a day. In a periodical called “Recreative Science,”
at the end of an interesting article on volcanoes, &c., the following sentence occurs : —
The conclusion is therefore inevitable, that the general distribution all over the earth
of volcanic vents, their similarity of action and products, their enormous power and seeming
inexhaustibleness, their extensiveness of action in their respective sites, the continuance
of* their energies during countless years, and the incessant burning day and night, from
year to year, of such craters as Stromboli; and lastly, the apparent inefficiency of external
circumstances in controlling their operations, eruptions happening beneath the sea as beneath
the land, in the frigid as in the torrid zone, for these and many less striking phenomena,
we must seek for some great and general cause, such only as the central heat of the earth
affords us. Sir Richard Phillips says :-
[At the depth of 50 feet (from the sea level) the temperature of the earth is the same winter
and summer. The deepest coal mine in England is at Killingworth,
near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and the mean annual temperature at 400 yards below the surface
is 77° [Fahrenheit]; and at 300 yards, 70°; while at the surface it is but 48°, being
about one degree of increase for every 15 yards. Hence, at 3,300 yards, the heat would
be equal to boiling water, taking 20 yards to a degree. This explains the origin of hot
springs. The heat of the Bath waters is 116°, hence they would appear to rise from a depth
of 1,320 yards. By experiments made at the Observatory of Paris for ascertaining the
increase of temperature from the surface of the earth towards the interior, 51 feet, or
17 yards, corresponds to the increase of one degree on Fahrenheit’s thermometer. Hence,
the temperature of boiling water would be at 8,212 feet, or about one and a half English
miles under Paris. Professor Silliman, of America, states :-
[In] boring the Artesian wells in Paris, the temperature increased at the rate of 1 degree
for every 50 feet downwards; and, reasoning from causes known to exist, the whole of the
interior part of the earth, or, at least, a great part of it, is an ocean of melted
rock agitated by violent winds”. Sir Charles Lyell, in his address to the British
Association, assembled at Bath, September, 1864, speaking of hot springs generally, said
:- An increase of heat is always experienced
as we descend into the interior of the earth. [The following estimate was] deduced by Mr.
Hopkins, from an accurate series of observations made in the Monkwearmouth shaft near Durham,
and in the Dukenfield shaft, near Manchester, each of them 2,000 feet in depth. In these
shafts the temperature was found to rise at the rate of 1° Fahrenheit for every increase
of depth of from 65 to 70 feet The German philosopher and explorer Alexander
on Humboldt writes in his “Cosmos” :- The observations made by M. François Arago,
in 1821, that the deepest Artesian wells are the warmest, threw great light on the origin
of thermal springs, and on the establishment of the law, that terrestrial heat increases
with increasing depth. It is a remarkable fact, which has but recently
been noticed, that at the close of the third century St Patricius, probably Bishop of Partusa,
was led to adopt very correct views regarding the phenomenon of the hot springs at Carthage.
On being asked what was the cause of boiling water bursting from the earth, [the Bishop]
replied, “Fire is nourished in the clouds, and in the interior of the earth, as Etna
and other mountains near Naples may teach you. The subterranean waters rise as if through
siphons. The cause of hot springs is this: waters which are more remote from the subterranean
fire are colder, whilst those which rise nearer the fire, are heated by it, and bring with
them to the surface which we inhabit, an insupportable degree of heat”
The investigations which have been made, and the evidence which has been brought together,
render it undeniable that the lower parts of the earth are on fire. Of the intensity
of the combustion, no practical idea can be formed. It is fearful beyond comparison. The
lava thrown out from a volcano in Mexico, “was so hot that it continued to smoke for
twenty years; and after three years and a half, a piece of wood took fire in it, at
a distance of five miles from the crater”. In various parts of the world, large islands
have been thrown up from the sea, in a red-hot glowing condition, and so intensely heated,
that after being forced through many fathoms of salt water, and standing in the midst of
it, exposed to wind and rain for several months, they were not sufficiently cooled for persons
to approach and stand upon them. [Referring again to “Recreative Sciences“,
and borrowing at length :-] A notable fact is the force exerted in volcanic
action, Cotopaxi, in 1738, threw its fiery rockets 3,000 feet above its crater, while
in 1744 the blazing mass, struggling for an outlet, roared like a furnace, so that its
awful voice was heard at a distance of more than six hundred miles. In 1797, the crater
of Tunguragua, one of the great peaks of the Andes, flung out torrents of mud, which dammed
up rivers, opened new lakes, and in valleys of a thousand feet wide made deposits six
hundred feet deep. The stream from Vesuvius which, in 1737, passed through Torre del Greco,
contained thirty-three million cubic feet of solid matter; and, in 1794, when Torre
del Greco was destroyed a second time, the mass of lava amounted to forty-five million
cubic feet. In 1669 Etna poured forth a flood which covered 84 square miles of surface,
and measured nearly 100,000,000 cubic feet On this occasion the sand and scoria formed
the Monte Rossi, near Nicolosi, a cone two miles in circumference, and four hundred and
fifty feet high. The stream thrown out by Etna, in 1819, was in motion, at the rate
of a yard per day, for nine months after the eruption; and it is on record that the lavas
of the same mountain, after a terrible eruption, were not thoroughly cooled and consolidated
ten years after the event In the eruption of Vesuvius, A.D. 79, the scoria and ashes
vomited forth far exceeded the entire bulk of the mountain; while, in 1660, Etna disgorged
more than twenty times its own mass. Vesuvius has thrown its ashes as far as Constantinople,
Syria, and Egypt; it hurled stones eight pounds in weight to Pompeii, a distance of six miles;
while similar masses were tossed up 2,000 feet above its summit. Cotopaxi has projected
a block one hundred cubic yards in volume a distance of nine miles, while Sumbawa, in
1815, during the most terrible eruption on record, sent its ashes as far as Java, a distance
of three hundred miles. In viewing these evidences of enormous power,
we are forcibly struck with the similarity of action with which they have been associated;
and, carrying our investigation a step further, the same similarity of the producing power
is hinted at in the identity of the materials ejected. Thus, if we classify the characteristics
of all recorded eruptions, we shall find that the phenomena are all reducible to upheavals
of the earth, rumblings and explosions, ejections of carbonic acid, fiery torrents of lava,
cinders, and mud, with accompanying thunder and lightning. The last named phenomena are
extra-judicial in character; they are merely the result of the atmospheric disturbance
consequent on the escape of great heat from the earth, just as the burning of an American
forest causes thunder and rain. The connection that apparently exists, too, between neighbouring
craters is strongly confirmed by the fact that in every distinct volcanic locus but
one crater is usually active at a time. Since Vesuvius has resumed his activity, the numerous
volcanic vents on the other side of the bay have sunk into comparative inactivity; for
ancient writers, who are silent respecting the former, speak of the mephitic vapours
of the Lake Avemus as destructive to animal existence, and in earlier days than these,
Homer pictures the Phlegrean Fields as the entrance to the infernal regions, placed at
the limits of the habitable world, unenlightened by rising or setting sun, and enveloped in
eternal gloom. The earth contains within it a mass of heated
material; nay, it is a heated and incandescent body, habitable only because surrounded with
a cool crust — the crust being to it a mere shell, within which the vast internal fires
are securely enclosed; and yet not securely, perhaps, unless such vents existed as those
to which we apply the term volcano. Every volcano is a safety-valve, ready to
relieve the pressure from within when that pressure rises to a certain degree of intensity;
or permanently serving for the escape of conflagrations, which, if not so provided with escape, might
rend the habitable crust to pieces. Thus it is certain, from the phenomena of
earthquakes, submarine and inland volcanoes which exist in every part of the earth from
the frozen to the tropical regions, hot and boiling springs, fountains of mud and steam,
lakes of burning sulphur, jets and blasts of destructive gases, and the choke and fire
damps of our coal mines, that at a few miles only below the surface of the earth there
exists a vast region of combustion, the intensity and power of which are indescribable, and
cannot be compared with anything within the range of human experience.
As the earth is an extended plane resting in and upon the waters of the “great deep”
it may fitly be compared to a large vessel or ship floating at anchor, with her “Hold”
or lower compartments beneath the water-line filled with burning materials; and, from our
knowledge of the nature and action of fire, it is difficult to understand in what way
the combustion can be prevented from extending, when it is known to be surrounded with highly
inflammable substances. Wherever a fire is surrounded with heterogeneous materials — some
highly combustible and others partially and indirectly combustible — it is not possible
for it to remain continually in the same condition nor to diminish in extent and intensity, it
must increase and extend itself. That the fire in the earth is so surrounded with inflammable
materials is matter of certainty; the millions of tons of coals, peat, turf, mineral oils,
rock tar, pitch, asphalt, bitumen, petroleum, mineral naphtha, and numerous other hydro-carbons
which exist in various parts of the earth, and much of these far down below the surface,
prove this condition to exist. The products of volcanic action being chiefly carbon in
combination and oxygen, prove also that these carbon compounds already exist in a state
of combustion, and that as such immense quantities of the same fuel still exist, it is quite
within the range of possibility that some of the lower strata of combustible matter
may take fire and the action rapidly extend itself through the various and innumerable
veins which ramify in every direction throughout the whole earth. Should such an action commence,
knowing, as we do, that the rocks and minerals of the earth are but oxides of inflammable
bases, and that the affinities of these bases are greatly weakened and almost suspended
in the presence of highly heated carbon, we see clearly that such chemical action or fire
would quickly extend and increase in intensity until the whole earth with everything entering
into its composition, would rapidly decompose, volatilise, and burst into one vast indescribable,
annihilating conflagration!

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