Notes

    Abstract

    ONE of the first results of the Transit of Venus expedition with regard to the geological aspect and vegetation of a comparatively little known island, comes to us from Rodrigues, and is contained in a communication from Mr. J. B. Balfour to Dr. Hooker, under date, from the above island, of August 23, 1874. As a proof of the inhospitable, or rather the uncivilised nature of the island, it is stated that the party belonging to the expedition were warned in Mauritius before starting for Rodrigues that they must take everything from the former island that they would be likely to require as it would be impossible to get anything at Rodrigues, and even labour is most difficult to be obtained. After providing himself with various articles of absolute necessity, Mr. Balfour started from Mauritius, and after a voyage of exactly a week, landed at Rodrigues on August 18. The appearance of the island as seen from the vessel while steaming along near the coast, presented few features which could be looked upon as evidencing any large amount of granite entering into its constitution. On the contrary, the columnar structure of the cliff lines, both on the coast and in the interior, along with the terraced aspect of many of the ridges separating deep ravines, cutting far back into the island, clearly showed that, whether the main mass of the island were granite or not, certainly at some period of its history it had been the scene of very extensive volcanic action. On the 19th of August an excursion was made across the island to survey the channel on the south side. The vegetation on the island is very rank. The trees do not grow to any great size, and in most places do not form thick forest, but are scattered singly over the slope of the hills. It is only in the deep valleys and gorges that they grow into thick forest. The commonest tree seems to be the Vacoa (Pandanus), of which there are probably at least four species. The under-scrub is very dense and very spiny, which renders walking through it by no means a pleasant task. Neither ferns nor mosses appear to be very abundant, but lichens are pretty plentiful, especially in their pulverulent state; and in many places the basalt was nearly covered with white powdery patches. The basalt forming the rocks near Port Mathurin is, in its unweathered condition, a very beautiful compact stone, with large crystals of several minerals scattered through it. The difficulties in landing upon the island seem to be very great, owing to the extent of the coral reefs.

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    Notes . Nature 10, 527–530 (1874). https://doi.org/10.1038/010527a0

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