"In those calcareous strata, which are evidently of marine origin, there are many parts which are of sparry structure--that is to say, the original texture of those beds in such places has been dissolved, and a new structure has been assumed which is peculiar to a certain state of the calcareous earth. This change is produced by crystallization, in consequence of a previous state of fluidity, which has so disposed the concerting parts as to allow them to assume a regular shape and structure proper to that substance. A body whose external form has been modified by this process is called a CRYSTAL; one whose internal arrangement of parts is determined by it is said to be of a SPARRY STRUCTURE, and this is known from its fracture.
"There are, in all the regions of the earth, huge masses of calcareous matter in that crystalline form or sparry state in which, perhaps, no vestige can be found of any organized body, nor any indication that such calcareous matter has belonged to animals; but as in other masses this sparry structure or crystalline state is evidently assumed by the marine calcareous substances in operations which are natural to the globe, and which are necessary to the consolidation of the strata, it does not appear that the sparry masses in which no figured body is formed have been originally different from other masses, which, being only crystallized in part, and in part still retaining their original form, have ample evidence of their marine origin.
"We are led, in this manner, to conclude that all the strata of the earth, not only those consisting of such calcareous masses, but others superincumbent upon these, have had their origin at the bottom of the sea.
"The general amount of our reasoning is this, that nine-tenths, perhaps, or ninety-nine-hundredths, of this earth, so far as we see, have been formed by natural operations of the globe in collecting loose materials and depositing them at the bottom of the sea; consolidating those collections in various degrees, and either elevating those consolidated masses above the level on which they were formed or lowering the level of that sea.
"Let us now consider how far the other proposition of strata being elevated by the power of heat above the level of the sea may be confirmed from the examination of natural appearances. The strata formed at the bottom of the ocean are necessarily horizontal in their position, or nearly so, and continuous in their horizontal direction or extent. They may be changed and gradually assume the nature of each other, so far as concerns the materials of which they are formed, but there cannot be any sudden change, fracture, or displacement naturally in the body of a stratum. But if the strata are cemented by the heat of fusion, and erected with an expansive power acting below, we may expect to find every species of fracture, dislocation, and contortion in those bodies and every degree of departure from a horizontal towards a vertical position.
"The strata of the globe are actually found in every possible position: for from horizontal they are frequently found vertical; from continuous they are broken and separated in every possible direction; and from a plane they are bent and doubled. It is impossible that they could have originally been formed, by the known laws of nature, in their present state and position; and the power that has been necessarily required for their change has not been inferior to that which might have been required for their elevation from the place in which they have been formed."
From all this, therefore, Hutton reached the conclusion that the elevation of the bodies of land above the water on the earth's surface had been effected by the same force which had acted in consolidating the strata and giving them stability. This force he conceived to be exerted by the expansion of heated matter.
"We have," he said, "been now supposing that the beginning of our present earth had been laid in the bottom of the ocean, at the completion of the former land, but this was only for the sake of distinctness. The just view is this, that when the former land of the globe had been complete, so as to begin to waste and be impaired by the encroachment of the sea, the present land began to appear above the surface of the ocean. In this manner we suppose a due proportion to be always preserved of land and water upon the surface of the globe, for the purpose of a habitable world such as this which we possess. We thus also allow time and opportunity for the translation of animals and plants to occupy the earth.