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IRKUTSK—IRON

as the Irkut, Kitoi, Byelaya, Oka and Iya. The Lena is the principal means of communication both with the gold-mines on its own tributary, the lower Vitim, and with the province of Yakutsk. The Nizhnyaya Tunguzka flows northwards, to join the Yenisei in the far north, and the mountain streams tributary to the Vitim drain the north-east.

The post-Tertiary formations are represented by glacial deposits in the highlands and loess on their borders. Jurassic deposits are met with in a zone running north-westwards from Lake Baikal to Nizhne-udinsk. The remainder of this region is covered by vast series of Carboniferous, Devonian and Silurian deposits—the first two but slightly disturbed over wide areas. All the highlands are built up of older, semi-crystalline Cambro-Silurian strata, which attain a thickness of 2500 ft., and of crystalline slates and limestones of the Laurentian system, with granites, syenites, diorites and diabases protruding from beneath them. Very extensive beds of basaltic lavas and other volcanic deposits are spread along the border ridge of the high plateau, about Munko-sardyk, up the Irkut, and on the upper Oka, where cones of extinct volcanoes are found (Jun-bulak). Earthquakes are frequent in the neighbourhood of Lake Baikal and the surrounding region. Gold is extracted in the Nizhne-udinsk district; graphite is found on the Botu-gol and Alibert mountains (abandoned many years since) and on the Olkhon island of Lake Baikal. Brown coal (Jurassic) is found in many places, and coal on the Oka. The salt springs of Usoliye (45 m. west of Irkutsk), as also those on the Ilim and of Ust-Kutsk (on the Lena), yield annually about 7000 tons of salt. Fireclay, grindstones, marble and mica, lapis-lazuli, granites and various semi-precious stones occur on the Sludyanka (south-west corner of the Baikal).

The climate is severe; the mean temperatures being at Irkutsk (1520 ft), for the year 31° Fahr., for January −6°, for July 65°; at Shimki (valley of the Irkut, 2620 ft.), for the year 24°, for January −17°, for July 63°. The average rainfall is 15 in. a year. Virgin forests cover all the highlands up to 6500 ft.

The population which was 383,578 in 1879, was 515,132 in 1897, of whom 238,997 were women and 60,396 were urban; except about 109,000 Buriats and 1700 Tunguses, they are Russians. The estimated population in 1906 was 552,700. Immigration contributes about 14,000 every year. Schools are numerous at Irkutsk, but quite insufficient in the country districts, and only 12% of the children receive education. The soil is very fertile in certain parts, but meagre elsewhere, and less than a million acres are under crops (rye, wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes). Grain has to be imported from West Siberia and cattle from Transbaikalia. Fisheries on Lake Baikal supply every year about 2,400,000 Baikal herring (omul). Industry is only beginning to be developed (iron-works, glass- and pottery-works and distilleries, and all manufactured goods are imported from Russia). The government is divided into five districts, the chief towns of which are Irkutsk (q.v.), Balagansk (pop., 1313 in 1897), Kirensk (2253), Nizhne-udinsk and Verkholensk.  (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.) 


IRKUTSK, the chief town of the above government, is the most important place in Siberia, being not only the largest centre of population and the principal commercial depot north of Tashkent, but a fortified military post, an archbishopric of the Orthodox Greek Church and the seat of several learned societies. It is situated in 52° 17′ N. and 104° 16′ E., 3792 m. by rail from St Petersburg. Pop. (1875) 32,512, (1900) 49,106. The town proper lies on the right bank of the Angara, a tributary of the Yenisei, 45 m. below its outflow from Lake Baikal, and on the opposite bank is the Glaskovsk suburb. The river, which has a breadth of 1900 ft., is crossed by a flying bridge. The Irkut, from which the town takes its name, is a small river which joins the Angara directly opposite the town, the main portion of which is separated from the monastery, the castle, the port and the suburbs by another confluent, the Ida or Ushakovka. Irkutsk has long been reputed a remarkably fine city—its streets being straight, broad, well paved and well lighted; but in 1879, on the 4th and 6th of July, the palace of the (then) governor-general, the principal administrative and municipal offices and many of the other public buildings were destroyed by fire; and the government archives, the library and museum of the Siberian section of the Russian Geographical Society were utterly ruined. A cathedral (built of wood in 1693 and rebuilt of stone in 1718), the governor’s palace, a school of medicine, a museum, a military hospital, and the crown factories are among the public institutions and buildings. An important fair is held in December. Irkutsk grew out of the winter-quarters established (1652) by Ivan Pokhabov for the collection of the fur tax from the Buriats. Its existence as a town dates from 1686.


IRMIN, or Irminus, in Teutonic mythology, a deified eponymic hero of the Herminones. The chief seat of his worship was Irminsal, or Ermensul, in Westphalia, destroyed in 772 by Charlemagne. Huge wooden posts (Irmin pillars) were raised to his honour, and were regarded as sacred by the Saxons.


IRNERIUS (Hirnerius, Hyrnerius, Iernerius, Gernerius, Guarnerius, Warnerius, Wernerius, Yrnerius), Italian jurist, sometimes referred to as “lucerna juris.” He taught the “free arts” at Bologna, his native city, during the earlier decades of the 12th century. Of his personal history nothing is known, except that it was at the instance of the countess Matilda, Hildebrand’s friend, who died in 1115, that he directed his attention and that of his students to the Institutes and Code of Justinian; that after 1116 he appears to have held some office under the emperor Henry V.; and that he died, perhaps during the reign of the emperor Lothair II., but certainly before 1140. He was the first of the Glossators (see Gloss), and according to ancient opinion (which, however, has been much controverted) was the author of the epitome of the Novellae of Justinian, called the Authentica, arranged according to the titles of the Code. His Formularium tabellionum (a directory for notaries) and Quaestiones (a book of decisions) are no longer extant. (See Roman Law.)

See Savigny, Gesch. d. röm. Rechts im Mittelalter, iii. 83; Vecchio, Notizie di Irnerio e della sua scuola (Pisa, 1869); Ficker, Forsch, z. Reichs- u. Rechtsgesch. Italiens, vol. iii. (Innsbruck, 1870); and Fitting, Die Anfänge der Rechtsschule zu Bologna (Berlin, 1888).


IRON [symbol Fe, atomic weight 55.85 (O = 16)], a metallic chemical element. Although iron occurs only sparingly in the free state, the abundance of ores from which it may be readily obtained led to its application in the arts at a very remote period. It is generally agreed, however, that the Iron Age, the period of civilization during which this metal played an all-important part, succeeded the ages of copper and bronze, notwithstanding the fact that the extraction of these metals required greater metallurgical skill. The Assyrians and Egyptians made considerable use of the metal; and in Genesis iv. 22 mention is made of Tubal-cain as the instructor of workers in iron and copper. The earlier sources of the ores appear to have been in India; the Greeks, however, obtained it from the Chalybes, who dwelt on the south coast of the Black Sea; and the Romans, besides drawing from these deposits, also exploited Spain, Elba and the province of Noricum. (See Metal-work.)

The chief occurrences of metallic iron are as minute spiculae disseminated through basaltic rocks, as at Giant’s Causeway and in the Auvergne, and, more particularly, in meteorites (q.v.). In combination it occurs, usually in small quantity, in most natural waters, in plants, and as a necessary constituent of blood. The economic sources are treated under Iron and Steel below; in the same place will be found accounts of the manufacture, properties, and uses of the metal, the present article being confined to its chemistry. The principal iron ores are the oxides and carbonates, and these readily yield the metal by smelting with carbon. The metal so obtained invariably contains a certain amount of carbon, free or combined, and the proportion and condition regulate the properties of the metal, giving origin to the three important varieties: cast iron, steel, wrought iron. The perfectly pure metal may be prepared by heating the oxide or oxalate in a current of hydrogen; when obtained at a low temperature it is a black powder which oxidizes in air with incandescence; produced at higher temperatures the metal is not pyrophoric. Péligot obtained it as minute tetragonal octahedra and cubes by reducing ferrous chloride in hydrogen. It may be obtained electrolytically from solutions of ferrous and magnesium sulphates and sodium bicarbonate, a wrought iron anode and a rotating cathode of copper, thinly silvered and iodized, being employed (S. Maximowitsch, Zeit. Elektrochem., 1905, 11, p. 52).