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References in classic literature ?
Professor Ramsay has given me the maximum thickness, in most cases from actual measurement, in a few cases from estimate, of each formation in different parts of Great Britain; and this is the result:-
Moreover, between each successive formation, we have, in the opinion of most geologists, enormously long blank periods.
Yet it is an admirable lesson to stand on the North Downs and to look at the distant South Downs; for, remembering that at no great distance to the west the northern and southern escarpments meet and close, one can safely picture to oneself the great dome of rocks which must have covered up the Weald within so limited a period as since the latter part of the Chalk formation.
The many cases on record of a formation conformably covered, after an enormous interval of time, by another and later formation, without the underlying bed having suffered in the interval any wear and tear, seem explicable only on the view of the bottom of the sea not rarely lying for ages in an unaltered condition.
The frequent and great changes in the mineralogical composition of consecutive formations, generally implying great changes in the geography of the surrounding lands, whence the sediment has been derived, accords with the belief of vast intervals of time having elapsed between each formation.
In this latter case, as long as the rate of subsidence and supply of sediment nearly balance each other, the sea will remain shallow and favourable for life, and thus a fossiliferous formation thick enough, when upraised, to resist any amount of degradation, may be formed.
I may add, that the only ancient tertiary formation on the west coast of South America, which has been bulky enough to resist such degradation as it has as yet suffered, but which will hardly last to a distant geological age, was certainly deposited during a downward oscillation of level, and thus gained considerable thickness.
During periods of elevation the area of the land and of the adjoining shoal parts of the sea will be increased, and new stations will often be formed;--all circumstances most favourable, as previously explained, for the formation of new varieties and species; but during such periods there will generally be a blank in the geological record.
Although each formation has indisputably required a vast number of years for its deposition, I can see several reasons why each should not include a graduated series of links between the species which then lived; but I can by no means pretend to assign due proportional weight to the following considerations.
These porous rocks serve as a reservoir for th scanty rain-water; and consequently on the line where th igneous and sedimentary formations unite, some smal springs (most rare occurrences in Patagonia) burst forth and they could be distinguished at a distance by the circumscribed patches of bright green herbage.
And yet they cheered and waved their spears in triumph, and then, instead of falling back upon us as we expected, they ran forward, for a hundred yards or so, after the flying groups of foemen, took possession of a rising knoll of ground, and, resuming their triple formation, formed a threefold ring around its base.
And now, before they could even assume a proper formation for defence, the outflanking /Impis/ had leapt, like greyhounds, on their flanks.

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