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had gone forth, or a general understanding been come to, that the rails were not to be crossed. These ants do not appear to have many enemies, though I sometimes found holes burrowed into their nests, apparently by the small armadillo. I once saw a minute parasitic fly hovering over a column of ants, near a nest, and every now and then darting down and attaching an egg to one entering. Large, horned beetles (Coelosis biloba) and a species of Staphylinus are found in the nests, but probably their larvae live on the rotten leaves, after the ants are done with them.

CHAPTER WI.

Configuration of the Ground at Santo Domingo—Excavation of Walleys—Geology of the District—Decomposition of the Rocks— Gold mining—Auriferous Quartz Weins—Mode of occurrence of the Gold—Lodes richer next the surface than at lower depths— Excavation and reduction of the Ore—Extraction of the Gold— “Mantos”—Origin of Mineral Weins—Their connection with intrusions of Plutonic Rocks.

THERE is scarcely any level land around Santo I}omingo, but in every direction a succession of hills and valleys. The hills are not isolated; they run in irregular ranges, having mostly an east and west direction, but

with many modifications in their trend. From the

main valleys numerous auxiliary ones cut deeply into the
ranges, and bifurcate again and again, like the branches
of a tree, forming channels for carrying off the great
quantity of water that falls in these rainy forests. The
branching valleys, all leading into main ones, and these
into the rivers, have been excavated by sub-aērial agency,
and almost entirely by the action of running water. It
is the system that best effects the drainage of the
country, and has been caused by that drainage.
The wearing out of valleys near Santo Domingo pro-
ceeds more rapidly than in regions where less rain falls,
and where the rocks are not so soft and decomposed.
Even during the few years I was in Nicaragua there
were some modifications of the surface effected; I saw

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the commencement of new valleys, and the widening and lengthening of others, caused not only by the gradual denudation of the surface, but by landslips, some o which occur every wet season. The rocks of the district are dolerytes, with bands and protrusions of hard greenstones. The decomposition of the dolerytes is very great, and extends from the tops of the hills to a depth, as proved in the mines, of at least two hundred feet. Next the surface they were often as soft as alluvial clay, and might be cut with a spade. This decomposition of the rocks near the surface prevails in many parts of tropical America, and is principally, if not always, confined to the forest regions. It has been ascribed, and probably with reason, to the percolation through the rocks of rain-water charged with a little acid from the decomposing vegetation. If this be so, the great depth to which it has reached tells of the immense antiquity of the forests. Gold-mining at Santo Domingo is confined almost entirely to auriferous quartz lodes, no alluvial deposits having been found that will pay for working. The lodes run east and west, and are nearly perpendicular, sometimes dipping a little to the north, sometimes a little to the south, and near the surface, generally turning over towards the face of the hill through which they cut. The trend of the main ranges, also nearly east and west, is probably due to the direction of the outcrops of the lodes which have resisted the action of the elements better than the soft dolerytes. The quartz veins now form the crests of many of the ranges, but are everywhere cut through by the lateral valleys. The beds of doleryte lie at low angles, through which the quartz veins cut

Ch. VI.] QUARTZ LODES. to 87

nearly vertically, excepting that they are very irregular in thickness, and often branch and send thin offshoots into the enclosing rocks; they resemble coal seams that have been turned up on edge, so as to be vertical instead of horizontal. They run for a great distance. Near Santo Domingo they have been traced for two miles in length, and probably they extend much further. They are what are called fissure-veins, owing their origin to cracks or fractures in the rocks that have been filled up with mineral substances through chemical, thermal, aqueous, or Plutonic agencies. In depth, the bottom of fissure-veins has never been reached, and taking into consideration the deep-seated forces required to produce fissures of such great length and regularity, we may safely assume that they run for miles deep into the earth —that their extension vertically is as great as it is horizontally. The probability that they extend to immense depths is increased when we reflect that mineral veins occur in parallel groups that run with great regularity for hundreds of miles; and further by the fact that, in all the changes of the earth's surface, by which deep-seated rocks have been brought up and exposed by denudation, no instance is known of the bottom of a fissure-vein having been brought by such movements within the reach of man. The gold-mines of Santo Domingo are in veins or lodes of auriferous quartz that run parallel to each other, and are so numerous that across a band more than a mile in width one may be found every fifty yards. All that have been worked vary greatly in thickness: sometimes within a hundred yards a lode will thicken out from one to seventeen feet. Their auriferous contents vary still more

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