Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/197

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

would consist of chalcedony or jasper in the inner portions, and have distinctly crystallized exteriors. There is another class of agates composed of external bands of chalcedony or jasper, stalactitically deposited in a cavity which may either have a hollow center, or one filled up with crystals of quartz. There appear, however, to be intermediate varieties in which concretionary or stalactitic formations have been combined with, or interrupted by, other modes of growth.

Some of the most curious and beautiful abates are those containing dendritic crystallizations; in these we see, in the more or less transparent chalcedony, which in these agates is not banded, wonderful mossy or confervoid-like growths, often very closely resembling vegetable forms. The valuable stones from Mocha contain ferruginous brown or black inclosures, while some of the dendritic agates from India are filled with a bright-green network of what appear to be filaments of confervæ These dendritic forms in the moss-abates are mostly the oxides of iron or manganese; or in the green Indian pebbles, delessite or chlorite. The question of their origin is a difficult one. In some agates the dendrites may have resulted from a segregation of the oxides of the metals from the colloid or partially crystallized silica; in other cases they may be the effect of subsequent infiltrations; or, again, the quartz may have been consolidated around previously existing crystallizations. With regard to infiltration by these oxides, it is well known that even the most compact-looking chalcedony is permeable, as it is possible by steeping it in solutions of the aniline or other dyes to impart the most brilliant tints to agates, the dye undoubtedly gaining access to the interior of the specimen through the interspaces of its minutely crystalline structure.

In a large group of agates, of which beautiful specimens come from India, an appearance of banded formation is seen, which, upon microscopic examination, resolves itself into an infinite number of red or brown spots, regularly arranged in bands or concentric groups: these spots appear to be segregations of oxide of iron. I have not seen a specimen of this species of agate cut sufficiently thin to show whether the arrangement of these minute spots is dependent upon a banded structure in the chalcedony itself, or whether it is independent and the result of molecular force which has determined the arrangement in question. It may here be noticed that a vast number of the Indian agates come from the neighborhood of the Gulf of Cambay. Near Turkeysar there are agate conglomerates intercalated between beds of laterite which belong to the Eocene period. These conglomerates we may suppose to have been derived from the denudation of the earlier igneous rocks which abound in the same district. Uruguay, in South America, also produces a large number of remarkably fine banded agates. Sometimes well-formed quartz-crystals will be found inclosing other substances, which, in some instances, have been caught