What Are Plutonic Rocks

The rocks of one division have been called plutonic, comprehending all the granites and certain porphyries, which are nearly allied in some of their characters to volcanic formations. The members of the other class are stratified and often slaty, and have been called by some the crystalline schists , in which group are in¬ cluded gneiss, micaceous-schist (or mica-slate), hornblende- schist, statuary marble, the finer kinds of roofing slate, and other rocks afterwards to be described.

As it is admitted that nothing strictly analogous to these crystalline productions can now be seen in the progress of formation on the earth’s surface, it will naturally be asked, on what data we can find a place for them in a system of classification founded on the origin of rocks. I can not, in reply to this question, pretend to give the student, in a few words, an intelligible account of the long chain of facts and reasonings from which geologists have been led to infer the nature of the rocks in question. The result, however, may be briefly stated. All the various kinds of granites which constitute the plutonic family are supposed to be of igneous or aqueoigneous origin, and to have been formed un-

der great pressure, at a considerable depth in the earth, or sometimes, perhaps, under a certain weight of incumbent ocean. Like the lava of volcanoes, they have been melted, and afterwards cooled and crystallized, but with extreme slowness, and under conditions very different from those of bodies cooling in the open air. Hence they differ from the volcanic rocks, not only by*their more crystalline texture, but also by the absence of tuffs and breccias, which are the products of eruptions at the earth’s surface, or beneath seas of inconsiderable depth. They differ also by the absence of pores or cellular cavities, to which the expansion of the en¬ tangled gases gives rise in ordinary lava. Metamorphic, or Stratified Crystalline Rocks. —The fourth and last great division of rocks are the crystalline strata and slates, or schists, called gneiss, mica-schist, clay-slate, chlorite-schist, marble, and the like, the origin of which is more doubtful than that of the other three classes. They contain no pebbles, or sand, or scoriie, or angular pieces of imbedded stone, and no traces of organic bodies, and they are often as crystalline as granite, yet are divided into beds, corresponding in form and arrangement to those of sediment¬ ary formations, and are therefore said to be stratified. The beds sometimes consist of an alternation of substances vary¬ ing in color, composition, and thickness, precisely as we see in stratified fossiliferous deposits.

According to the Hut- tonian theory, which I adopt as the most probable, and which will be afterwards more fully explained, the materi¬ als of these strata were originally deposited from water in the usual form of sediment, but they were subsequently so altered by subterranean heat, as to assume a new texture. It is demonstrable, in some cases at least, that such a com¬ plete conversion has actually taken place, fossiliferous strata having exchanged an earthy for a highly crystalline texture for a distance of a quarter of a mile from their contact with granite. In some cases, dark limestones, replete with shells and corals, have been turned into white statuary marble; and hard clays, containing vegetable or other remains, into slates called mica-schist or hornblende-schist, every vestige of the organic bodies having been obliterated.

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