Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/198

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up by the crystals in the course of their formation, or have crystallized, perhaps, almost simultaneously with the quartz. In other cases the quartz is proved to have crystallized over other previously-formed crystals; thus schorl is occasionally seen partially inclosed in quartz crystals and partially free, the ends of the crystals of schorl projecting through the quartz. Titanite, asbestus, and other minerals are not unfrequently found in minute acicular forms in quartz. The quartz in the igneous rocks may frequently be seen to inclose crystals of feldspar or titanite, or portions of the matrix which must have been previously solidified.

Opal, as has already been pointed out, is a product of aqueous origin found in the fissures and amygdaloid cavities of igneous rocks. Its wondrous play of colors has given rise to much discussion by Brewster, Des Cloiseaux, and other writers. Some have attributed it to the presence of numerous cavities of varying size, which cause a kind of iridescent refraction. Des Cloiseaux was inclined to suppose that organic matter might be inclosed in small quantities in its cavities. The most reasonable supposition, however, appears to me to be that of Reusch—that light reflected or transmitted from numberless flaws in the mineral gives rise to the phenomena in question through a process of double refraction.

We may now turn to the consideration of forms of quartz which have a more or less organic origin. At the head of these may be placed such undoubtedly organic aggregations of silica as the Tripoli and semi-opal of Bohemia, which consist almost entirely of fossil diatomaceæ. Some beds of rock also in the Island of Barbadoes are found to be composed of little else than polycystinæ and spicules of sponges. Much of the flint so characteristic of the chalk-rocks, as well as the chert of the greensand and of the mountain limestone, appears to have been derived from the precipitation, by organic substances, of silica held in solution by the waters of the ocean; at any rate, much of it seems to have been thus deposited; flinty nodules are often found to consist of fossilized sponges, the silicious skeletons of which may have attracted to themselves the silica dissolved in the surrounding water. Spiculæ of sponges, diatomaceæ, foraminifera, shells, corals, and other organisms are abundant in the flint, and also in much of the chert. Recent observations by MM. Guignet and Teller have shown that the water of the Bay of Rio de Janeiro contains large quantities of both silica and alumina in solution, the amount in the case of silica being as much as 9·5 grains per cubic metre.

Wood will sometimes be found to be pseudomorphosed into silica, the woody structure being replaced atom by atom, so that the minutest vessels are perfectly preserved. Various species of palm from the East Indies are frequently found fossilized in this manner, and sections of them make very beautiful objects for the microscope. Large fragments of a partially silicified wood, named Endogenites erosa, may