Chapter 13c

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March 13, 2022

At the end of November, I left the beautiful lake of Buhi, and proceeded from its eastern angle for a short distance up the little river Sapa,* the alluvial deposits of which form a considerable feature in the configuration of the lake.

Across a marshy meadow we reached the base of the Malináo or Buhi mountain, the slippery clay of the lower slope merging higher up into volcanic sand. The damp undergrowth swarmed with small leeches; I never before met with them in such numbers.

These little animals, no stouter when stretched out than a linen thread, are extraordinarily active. They attach themselves firmly to every part of the body, penetrating even into the nose, the ears, and the eyelids, where, if they remain unobserved, they gorge themselves to such excess that they become as round as balls and look like small cherries. While they are sucking no pain is felt; but afterwards the spots attacked often itch the whole day long. * In one place the wood consisted for the most part of fig-trees, with bunches of fruit quite six feet in length hanging from the stems and the thicker branches; and between the trees grew ferns, aroids, and orchids.

After nearly 6 hours’ toil we reached the pass (841 metres above the sea level), and descended the eastern slope.

The forest on the eastern side of the mountain is still more magnificent than that on the west. From a clearing we obtained a fine view of the sea, the island of Catanduanes, and the plain of Tabáco. At sunset we reached Tibi, where I quartered myself in the prison.

This is a tolerably clean place, enclosed with strong bamboos.

It was the most habitable part of a long shed which supplied the place of the tribunal destroyed in a storm two years before.

At Tibi, I was able to sketch Mount Malináo (called also Buhi and Takít). From this side, it looks like a large volcano with a distinct crater.

From the lake of Buhi it is not so clearly distinguishable.

  • Sapa means shallow.
  • To the extraordinary abundance of these annulates in Sikkim, Hooker (“ Himalayan Journal," i. 167) ascribes the death of many animals, as also the murrain known as rinderpest, if it occurred after a very wet season, when the leech appears in incredible numbers. It is a known fact that these worms have existed for days together in the nostrils, throat, and stomach of man, causing inexpre. sible pain and, finally, death.

Not far from Tibi, exactly north-east of Malináo, we found a small hot spring called Igabó. In the middle of a plot of turf encircled by trees was a bare spot of oval form, nearly 100 paces long and 70 wide. The whole space was covered with stones, rounded by attrition, as large as a man’s head and larger. Here and there hot water bubbled out of the ground and discharged into a little brook; at which some women were engaged in cooking their food, which they suspended in nets in the hottest parts of the water. On the lower surfaces of some of the stones a little sulphur was sublimated ; of alum hardly a trace was perceptible.

From here, I visited the stalactite springs, not far distant, of Naglegběng.*

  • Gemelli Careri has already mentioned them.

I had expected to see a calcareous fountain, but found the most magnificent masses of silica of infinite variety of forms:

  • shallow cones with cylindrical summits
  • pyramidal flights of steps
  • round basins with ribbed margins
  • ponds of boiling water.

One spot, denuded of trees, from two to three hundred paces in breadth and about five hundred in length, was, with the exception of a few places overgrown with turf, covered with a crust of silicious dross. They formed large connected areas, but was generally broken up into flaky plates by the vertical springs which pierced it.

In numerous localities boiling hot mineral water containing silica was forcing itself out of the ground, spreading itself over the surface and depositing a crust, the thickness of which depended on its distance from the centre point.

In this manner, in the course of time, a very flat cone is formed, with a basin of boiling water in the middle. The continuous deposit of dross contracts the channel, and a less quantity of water overflows, while that close to the edge of the basin evaporates and deposits a quantity of fine silicious earth ; whence the upper portion of the cone not only is steeper than its base, but frequently assumes a more cylindrical form, the external surface of which, on account of the want of uniformity in the overflow, is ribbed in the form of stalactites.

When the channel becomes so much obstructed that the efflux is less than the evaporation, the water ceases to flow over the edge, and the mineral dross, during the continual cooling of the water, is then deposited, with the greatest uniformity, over the inner area of the basin.

When, however, the surface of the water sinks, this formation ceases at the upper portion of the basin; the interior wall thickens; and, if the channel be completely stopped up and all the water evaporated, there remains a bell-sbaped basin as even as if excavated by the hand of man. In my sketch of the white cone the three Indian females are standing on the edge of such a cone; and a still finer example may be observed on the right-hand summit of the red cone. The water now seeks a fresh outlet, and bursts forth where it meets with the least obstruction, without destroying the beautiful cone it has already erected. Many such examples exist.

In the largest cones, however, the vapours generated acquire such power that, when the outlet is completely stopped up, they break up the overlying crust in concentrically radiating flakes; and the water, issuing afresh copiously from the centre, deposits a fresh crust, which again, by the process we have just described, is broken up into a superimposed layer of flakes. In this manner are formed annular layers, which in turn are gradually covered by fresh deposits from the overflowing water. In the two large cones, the “white” and the “red,” shown in the illustrations, this layer formation is seen completed ; in many other places I observed it was in the act of commencing.

After the pyramid of layers is complete and the outlet stopped up, the water sometimes breaks forth on the slope of the same cone; a second cone is then formed near the first, on the same base. The preceding illustrations show formations of this kind at their commencement; the sketch of the red cone shows one at its completion. In the vicinity of the silicious springs are seen deposits of white, yellow, red, and bluish-grey clays, overlaying one another in narrow strata-like variegated marl, manifestly the disintegrated produce of volcanic rocks transported hither by rain and stained with oxide of iron.

These clays perhaps come from the same rocks, from the disintegration of which the silicious earth has been formed. Similar examples occur in Iceland and in New Zealand; but the products of the springs of Tibi are more varied, finer, and more beautiful than those of the Iceland Geysers.

The wonderful conformations of the red cone are indeed astonishing, and hardly to be paralleled in any other quarter of the world.*

  • I discovered similar formations, of extraordinary beauty and extent, in the great silicious beds of Steamboat Springs, Nevada Territory.