* Hence dusky Iron. l. 183. The production of iron from the decomposition of vege∣table bodies is perpetually presented to our view; the waters oozing from all morasses are chalybeate, and deposit their ochre on being exposed to the air, the iron acquiring a calciform state from its union with oxygene or vital air. Where thin morasses lie on beds of gravel the latter are generally stained by the filtration of some of the chalybeate water through them. This formation of iron from vegetable recrements is further evinced by the fern leaves and other parts of vegetables, so frequently found in the centre of the knobs or nodules of some iron-ores.

In some of these nodules there is a nucleus of whiter iron-earth surrounded by many concentric strata of darker and lighter iron-earth alternately. In one, which now lies before me, the nucleus is a prism of a triangular form with blunted angles, and about half an inch high, and an inch and half broad; on every side of this are concentric strata of similar iron-earth alternately browner and less brown; each stratum is about a tenth of an inch in thickness and there are ten of them in number. To what known cause can this exactly regular distribution of so many earthy strata of different colours surrounding the nucleus be ascribed? I dont know that any mineralogists have attempted an explanation of this wonderful phenomenon. I suspect it is owing to the polarity of the central nucleus. If iron-filings be regularly laid on paper by means of a small sieve, and a magnet be placed underneath, the filings will dispose themselves in concentric curves with vacant intervals between them. Now if these iron-filings are conceived to be suspended in a fluid, whose specific gravity is similar to their own, and a magnetic bar was introduced as an axis into this fluid, it is easy to foresee that the iron filings would dispose themselves into concentric spheres, with intervals of the circumnatant fluid between them, exactly as is seen, in these nodules of iron-earth. As all the lavas consist of one fourth of iron, (Kirvan's Mineral) and almost all other known bodies, whether of animal or vegetable origin, possess more or less of this property, may not the distribu∣tion of a great portion of the globe of the earth into strata of greater or less regularity be owing to the polarity of the whole?

 [ return to text ]