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Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, in London, who afterwards transmitted the largest and the most remarkable in the collection, for further examination, to the late celebrated M. le Baron Cuvier of Paris, by whom it was ascertained to have been the thigh-bone of a young elephant. Professor Blumenbach's comet has thus been ascertained to be of equal antiquity, and in all likelihood of kindred origin, with the ancient continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, whose right to their present position on the earth's surface has never been disputed. The huge elephant has in some former age traversed the plains of Australia, for his bones are found occupying the same common receptacle with those of the singular didelphis family, whose lively representatives—the kangaroos and opossums of the present day-have long outlived the last of his race, and still occupy the ancient land of their joint inheritance. If the learned professor, however, would do the scientific world the favour to pay a visit in person
Ad penitus toto divisos ab orbe Britannos, to the British colony inhabiting the stranded comet at the extremity of the globe--I doubt not but he would discover many an important fact, relative to the past history and the actual conformation of that interesting portion of the earth's surface, which the lesser lights of Australian science are insufficient to elicit.
The mineralogy of New South Wales is doubtless rich and various, though as yet in great measure unknown, Coal and iron, the most valuable of minerals, are met with in inexhaustible abundance, the latter being not unfrequently found in the state of native iron in large detached masses on the surface of the ground. Lime-stone is still more abundant, and in some parts of the territory, as in Argyle, it passes into marble, of which beautiful specimens have already been cut and polished by a skilful artisan from London, now established in Sydney. In one part of its course Hunter's River flows for a considerable distance over rocks of jasper; and beautiful agates, opal, and chalcedony, besides innumerable petrifactions, are found on its banks. On several parts of the coast, as well as in the distant interior, there are evident traces of volcanic action ; but Mount Wingen, in the upper part of the district of Hunter's River, is the only burning mountain within the present limits of the colony. There is no crater, however, on Mount Wingen; no unearthly explosions are heard in its neighbourhood ; there is no perceptible ejection of lava from the overcharged stomach of the mountain. From innumerable cracks and fissures on its surface a sulphureous flame, scarcely visible in the day-time, but discernible at a considerable distance at night, issues with a steady but by no means powerful blaze, leaving it still problematical whether the phenomenon should be ascribed to volcanic action, or to the accidental ignition of some subterranean stratum of bitumen or coal. *
• The following is an account of two visits to Mount Wingen, in the years 1830 and 1831, by the Rev. C. P. N. Wilton, A.M., chaplain at Newcastle, Hunter's River :
“ Mount Wingen is situated on the south-eastern side of the dividing range which separates the lands of Hunter's River from Liverpool Plains, in latitude 31° 54 S., longitude 150° 56' E. ; and the elevation of
There is a Colonial Museum in New South Wales ; but it has hitherto been conducted without spirit, and
the portion of it under the process of combustion cannot be less than one thousand four hundred to one thousand five hundred feet from the level of the sea. At the period of my first visit, in the beginning of last year, this comprehended parts of two declivities of one and the same mountain, composed of compact sand-stone rock. The progress of the fire had previously been down the northern and highest elevation, and it was then ascending with great fury the opposite and southern eminence. From the circumstance of its being thus in a hollow between two ridges of the same mountain, a former visitor was probably induced to give the clefts in the mountain the appellation of a crater ; but the fact is, the rock, as the subterraneous fire increases, is rent into several concave chasms of various widths, of which I had an opportunity of particularly examining the widest. The rock, a solid mass of sand-stone, was torn asunder about two feet in width, leaving its upper and southerly side exposed to view, the part so torn asunder having slipped down, as it were,
and sunk into a bollow, thus forming the concave surface of the heated rock. On looking down this chasm, to the depth of about fifteen feet, the sides of the rock were perceived to be of a wbite heat, like that of a lime-kiln, whilo sulphureous and steamy vapours arose from the aperture, amidst sounds, which issued from a depth below, like blasts from the forge of Vulcan himself. I stood on that portion of the rock which had been cleft from the part above, and, on hurling stones down into the chasm, the noise they made in the fall seemed to die away in a vast abyss beneath my feet. The area of the mountain over which the fire was raging was about an acre and a half in extent. There were throughout it several chasms varying in width, from which are constantly emitted sulphureous columns of smoke, accompanied by brilliant fame, the margins of these being beautified with eflorescent crystals of sulphur, varying in colour from the deepest red-orange, occasioned by ferruginous mixture, to the palest straw colour, where alum predominated. A black, tarry, and lustrous substance-a sort of bitumenabounded on the edges of these cliffs. Specimens of this were with difficulty obtained from the intense heat under foot, and the suffocating quality of the vapours emitted from the chasms. No lava or trachyte of any description was to be met with, nor was there any appearance of coal, although abounding in the vicinity. The mountain has evidently been on fire for a great length of time; several acres of the part now under combustion, on which trees are standing of a great age, having, as
managed without ability. Latterly, indeed, this has not been owing so much to the absolute want of ability
it were, been steamed, and many of the stones upon it bearing the marks of vitrification. The fire is still raging, and will probably continue to do 80 with increasing fury. Materials from beneath from time to time become ignited, whether by electricity or other unknown cause, and the expansive powers of the heat and steam shiver and split into huge masses the solid rock of sand-stone, and thus form continued chasms. The sulphureous and aluminous products of the mountain have been successfully applied in the cure of the scab in sheep.
“ The fire, since the period of my former visit, had, I found, been by no means inactive, having extended over & surface exceeding two acres, and was now raging with increased fury up the eminence to the south and south-southwest, and also on the hitherto extinct portion of the mountain --the northern elevation. There were still most splendid crystals of sulphur on the margins of the most extended crevices, where the fire was burning with a white heat, and of ammonia on those of the less, from both of which suffocating fumes were incessantly evolving. The fire continued roaring beneath, and stones thrown down into the chasms resounded to a great depth in an interior abyss. The scene of disruption, the rocks of solid sand-stone cleft asunder, the innumerable fractures made on the surface, the falling in of the strata, the half-consumed, prostrate trunks of trees, and others only awaiting the slip of the rock beneath them to fall in their turn, the pernicious vapours rising around amidst the roaring of the internal fires, and the white and red heat of the burning crevices, present an appearance on which the beholder cannot fail to gaze with wonder, and at the same time to lament his inability to account with any degree of certainty for the first natural cause of the spectacle before him.
“ At a little distance from the burning portions of Wingen, I picked up several amorphous specimens of carnelian, white, pinkish and blue; angular fragments of ribbon and fortification agates, and balls of agate, some of them filled with crystals varying from the size of a pea to that of a hen's egg, and others of a bluish white and clouded colour, having spots of white dispersed throughout them, which, if cut and polished, would present a very beautiful variety of this mineral. Mount Agate also, in the neighbourhood of Wingen, presented me with some fine specimens, as well of agate, (fortification and ribbon occurring in the same specimen,) as of fragments of white and bluish carnelian; and had not the grass on
for the management of such an institution in the colony, as to the utter incapacity of the men into
the mountain been so long and thick as it proved to be, I should doubt. less bave collected much finer.
“ Several of the agates collected from Mount Wingen upon examination were found to have their surfaces crusted over with iron, some of those from Mount Ágate with native copper, while others from the same locality presented a most beautiful auriferous appearance. On Mount Wingen we found, within but a few yards of that portion of it which is now under combustion, the cast of a bivalvular fossil shell in sand-stone, a species of terebratula. Other similar specimens have been met with in another part of the mountain. Only two specimens of organic remains of the nature of petrified bone bave bitherto been discovered in the neighbourhood of Mount Agate ; viz. the sacrum of some large animal on the Holdsworthy Downs, and the second cervical vertebra of another, about ten miles west from Merton; but in neither instance was the petrifaction embedded in the subjacent strata, but merely lying on the surface of the soil; and therefore most probably contemporary with the petrified wood, which is found scattered very abundantly over this tract of country. Near the chain of the Kingdon Ponds forming one of the sources of the Hunter, and rising in the dividing range a few miles N. by W. from Mount Wingen, are stumps of trees standing upright in the ground, apparently petrified on the spot where they formerly grow, In some places the wood is strongly impregnated with iron. About three miles along the coast south of Newcastle in an upright position, at high water mark under the cliff, and beneath a bed of coal, was also lately found the butt of a petrified tree, which, on being broken, presented a fine black appearance, as passing into the state of jet; and on the top of the cliff at Newcastle on which the telegraph stands, embedded at about a foot beneath the surface, lying in a horizontal position and nearly at right angles to the strata of the cliff, the trunk of another finely grained and white-both specimens being traversed by thin veins of chalcedony. The coal which is exposed to view on the face of the cliffs is of the independent formation, and appears to run generally in three parallel horizontal beds; but in some places with a varying dip. It alternates in one part of the cliff with slaty clay, sand-stone, and shale, with impressions of leaves : at another with mill-stone grit, and a bard chertzy rock. Nodules of clay iron-stone, and trunks and stems of warundinaceous plants in iron-stone, are seen in abundance in the alter