Miniature Physical Geology


UNDER this title there is a brief but very interesting article in NATURE, vol. xiii. p. 310, describing, among other things, some miniature earth-pillars at Bournemouth. These are due to the slight protection afforded by a hard seam in the sandy rock to a more friable layer beneath, when the whole is undergoing denudation by rain. It is a thing which I have seen more than once; but in the district of Luchon (Pyrenees) during the present summer, I have come across instances of earth pillars in miniature, yet more perfect than the above. The most striking case was on a slope in the wood on the right bank of the Cascade d'Enfer (Val de Lis). This slope consisted of a rather tenacious clay, filled with small angular fragments of granitoid rock. A slip, or the action of rain, had formed a little corrie half a yard or so wide, and on both sides of it the slope was studded with earth pillars, more or less perfect, each capped by its little stone. These caps were rather tabular in shape, generally from a quarter of an inch to an inch broad. Several of the pillars were so exactly models of those at Botzen, that, if drawn on the same scale, they could not be distinguished. The sides of the large pillars are furrowed and fluted by little rills of rain; so were these. Boulders smaller than the great capstone are imbedded in the matrix of the pillars, and, themselves exercising a protective influence are supported on brackets or pilasters of earth; so was it here; yet all this on the tiniest scale, for the largest and best-formed pillar had a general height of only about 13/4 inches, rising on one side about as much again above the bed of a miniature ravine. I also saw a large number of similar but more stumpy pillars by the side of the path from the Port de la Picade to the Hospice de France.

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BONNEY, T. Miniature Physical Geology. Nature 14, 423 (1876).

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