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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Find a different formation altogether


West

and north-westerly winds blew every day in a fierce manner, usually from sunset till about ten or eleven o'clock the following morning, at which hour they somewhat abated. They are, no doubt, due to the great jumps in the temperature at sunset and sunrise. On December 1st, for instance, from 112 deg. in the sun during the day the thermometer dropped to 20 deg. at night, or 12 deg. of frost. On December 2nd at noon it was up again as high as 114 deg..

We traversed a plain twelve miles long and at its south-east course, where the mountain ranges met, there occurred a curious spectacle--evidently of volcanic formation. On the top of the black hills of gravel and sand lying in a confused mass, as if left so by an upheaval, rose a pinnacle of bright yellow and red stone, with patches of reddish earth and of a dissimilar texture to the underlying surface of the hill. There seemed little doubt that both the rocky pinnacle and the red earth had been thrown there by some force--and under the projecting rocks and masses of soft earth one could, in fact, find a different formation altogether, bearing the same characteristics as the remainder of the hill surface.

This was on the northern slope of that hill. As the track turned here due east, and rounded, as it were, this curious mount, we found in reality on the other side a large, crater-like basin with lips of confused masses of earth both vermilion and of vivid burnt

sienna colour, as well as most peculiar mud-heaps in a spiral formation all round the crater, looking as if worn into that shape by some boiling liquid substance. To the south-east, on the very top of a hill of older formation, was perched at a dangerous angle another great yellow boulder like the one we had seen on the north side of the crater. For a diameter of several hundred yards the earth was much disturbed.

One mile further south-east, in traversing a basin a mile broad, it was impossible not to notice a curious range of hills with some strange enormous baked boulders--(they had evidently been exposed to terrific heat)--standing upright or at different angles to the east side of the hills, stuck partly in the sand and salt with which the ground was here covered.

Irregular and unsystematic heaps of rock, on which sand had accumulated up to a certain height, were to be seen to the south, and huge boulders of rich colour lay scattered here and there; whereas near the mountains which enclosed the basin both to south and east there were thousands of little hillocks of rock and sand in the most disconnected order.

As we went on, two perpendicular flat-topped barriers were before us to the east--like gigantic walls--one somewhat higher than the other, and of a picturesque dark burnt sienna colour in horizontal strata.

The whole country about here seemed to have been much deranged at different periods. We passed hillocks in vertical strata of slate-like brittle stone, in long quadrangular prisms, but evidently these strata had solidified in a horizontal position and had been turned over by a sudden commotion of the earth. This conclusion was strengthened by the fact that the same formation in a horizontal position was noticeable all along, the strata in one or two places showing strange distortions, with actual bends, continuing in curves not unlike the letter S. In the dry river bed there were large rocks cut into the shape of tables on a single pillar stand, but these were, of course, made by the erosion of water, and at a subsequent date.


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