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Malabar Manual Vol 1 Chapter 1. The DISTRICT
William Logan!
Section D. — Geological Formation.

With the exception of the auriferous quartz-reef country in South-East Wynad, the detailed consideration of which falls more appropriately under the heading of the gold industry in Chapter VII, the district has not yet been scientifically surveyed by the Geological Survey Department, but Mr. W. King, the Deputy Superintendent for Madras, has embodied in his “General sketch of the Geology of the Travancore State” the results of his observations gathered in visits to Malabar and Cochin, and those, as he says, enables him to “generalise as to the lie and character of the very few rock formations over the country far to the northward” of the scene of his immediate explorations in Travancore, so that in fact a good deal is known about the geological formations of Malabar.

For facility of reference Mr. King’s short paper on Travail core is therefore subjoined, with notes to certain portions of it.

General sketch of the Geology of the Travancore State. By W. King, D.Sc., Deputy Superintendent, (Madras) Geological Survey of India — (Records, Geological Survey, Vol. XV, p. 87.)

“My last season’s work (1880-81) was devoted to a general examination of the geology of the southern half of Travancore, and to a particular study of a small area of deposits which has been long known as occurring on the sea-coast, on the history of which I have written a separate paper.

“The development of the gold industry of Southern India having raised hopes of a similar auriferousness of the mountainous and coffee-planting districts in Travancore to that in Wynad, I was, at the very urgent request of the Travancore Government, induced to devote a considerable portion of my time to the examination of the region supposed to present the most favourable indications of gold-bearing rooks.

' The result of this was a report on the quartz outcrops of Peermad, in which I showed that the supposed reels are to all appearance beds of nearly pure quartz rock occurring with the other strata of the gneiss series, and that, though they locally give the very faintest traces of gold, there is no reason to expect that hotter results will be obtained. Practically, there are no auriferous quartz-reefs, as usually understood, in the area pointed out; neither do I expect that such will be found of any extent or richness in so much of Travancore as I was able to visit.

“The geological examination of the country may be said to have extended over more than half of the territory—in reality, it consisted of various traverses over the country between Cape Comorin and the 9° 35’ parallel of North latitude ; but I can generalize as to the lie and character of the very few rock formations over the country far to the northward through visits which I had made in previous years in the Coimbatore and Malabar districts, and this season at Cochin, to which place I was called in connection with a commission of enquiry on the harbours, conducted by Colonel R. H. Sankey, C.B., in the hopes of being able to elucidate something regarding the well-known tracts of smooth water off the coast at Narakal and Poracaud.

“The Travancore State, though it has long had a very irregular eastern frontier, has now been settled as lying practically to the westward of the main water-shed of the southern portion of the great mountainous back-bone or mid-rib of Southern India, which stretches from the low-lying gap of Palghat, below the Nilgiris, to within some Fifteen miles of Cape Comorin. Between this southern extremity of the mountain land and ‘the Cape’, as it is distinctively called, there is an outlying hill mass which carries the watershed rather to the eastward of the extreme southern point of India ; but a low rocky spur does terminate the end, and outside of it, or a little to the eastward again and somewhat higher, are two rocky islets.

In the northern part of the country the mountain mass is very broad, but just south of the Peermad parallel (the northern limit of my proper work) the hilly backbone narrows considerably and becomes a lengthened series of more or less parallel ridges with lower and lower intermediate valleys. Those are striking with the gneiss, or about west-north-west and east-south-east, there being at the same time a line of higher masses and peaks culminating the main ridge, from which the ribs run away, as indicated, to the low country.

“The mountain land does not, as may be seen by any good map, run down the middle of the peninsula, but keeps to the westward ; so that there is a broad stretch of low country on the Madura and Tinnevelly side, while that on Travancore is narrow. Then the mountains drop rather suddenly to the east, while they send long spurs down to within a comparatively short distance of the western coast. There is thus still, in Madura and Tinnevelly, a southerly prolongation of the wide plains of the Carnatic, which stretch round by Cape Comorin and join the narrower, though rather more elevated, low country of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar.

"This narrower and somewhat higher land of the west coast presents also unmistakable traces of a plateau or terraced character1 which is best displayed about Trivandrum, and northwards past Cochin into the Malabar country. South of Trivandrum these marks gradually disappear, the last trace being in the flat upland or plateau bordering the sea-shore at Kolachel. This more or less even-surfaced tract of country has an elevation in its most typical parts of one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet above the sea, and it touches the shore in cliffs or headlands at two or three points, particularly at Warkilli, and in the Paupanocheri hill south-west of Trivandrum.

NOTEs: 1: The terracod character of the low lands of Malabar is best seen at Malapuram, the Special Assistant Collector’s headquarters in the Ernad Taluk; but in the extreme north of the district, in the Chirakkal taluk, both north and south of the Taliparamba river, it is also conspicuous. Those terraces touch the sea and form low cliffs at Mount Deli, at Cannanore, at Darmapattanam and Tellicherry, and thence almost continuously on to Mahe, at Kollam near Quilandy, and for a few miles north of it, and lastly at the Ellattur river mouth. Mr, King examined some of these terraces and observed in regard to them that “the capped character of the plateaus in the neighbourhood of Beypore and Calicut, for instance, is duo to the denudation of an originally planed-down terrace of gneiss into detached plateaus, the upper surfaces of which are altered and lateritised to a certain depth,”— {Records, Geological Survey, Vol. XV, p. 101.) END of NOTEs

“To an observer travelling to Trivandrum across the Ariankow pass from Tinnevelly, the change from the parallel ridges and broken form of the lower hilly country to the comparatively smooth downs of Trivandrum is striking, though he would hardly see the generally terraced or plateau character until a more extended acquaintance had boon made with the country .

“Northwards from Trivandrum there are narrow strips of absolutely low land, that is on the sea-level1, marked by sandy and alluvial flats and long back-waters or lagoons. These widen out northwards from Quilon, until at Alleppey (Aulapolay) there is a width of about twelve miles of such formations, with the very extensive backwater which stretches far past Cochin.

NOTEs: 1 Those sea-level lands are numerous in Malabar also; as, for example, the wide tidal backwaters on the Taliparamba and Valarpattanam rivers, the Agalapula (broad river) stretching between the Kotta and Ellattur rivers, the backwaters on the Kadalundi river, those connected with the Velayankod backwater, and finally the Trichur or Ennamakkal lake itself, with many others too numerous to be mentioned. END of NOTEs

“The rock formations are first, and most prevalent and foundational, the gneiss series1 and then on it, but only in a very small way, the Quilon beds, which are supposed to be of eocene age. These last are overlapped by the Warkilli2 beds which certainly appear to belong to a different series, and are thus perhaps of upper tertiary age ; they appear also to be equivalent to the Cuddalore sandstones of the Coromandel. Finally, there are the recent deposits.

NOTEs: 1. Mr. R. Bruce Foote, in his “ Sketch of the work of the Geological Survey in Southern India”, points out that Mr, H. F BlandFord, in his memoir on the Nilgiris which appeared in 1859, exposed “the fallacy of a view held by Captain Newbold as well as many others at that time and still later, namely, that each of the mountain plateaus and ridges contained a great irrupted nucleus of granite rocks”, and observes “that the metamorphic rocks have not. been greatly broken up and dislocated by intrusions of granite, to which the present outlines of the country were supposed to be largely due”, and finally winds up on this point as follows :

“The existing outlines are almost entirely duo to atmospheric erosion acting over vast periods of time, the gneissic highlands of the south of the peninsula being one of the oldest known portions of terra firma".—(Reprint from Madras Journal of Literature und Science, 1882, p. 5.) To this may be added the following from Mr. W. King’s paper on the goldfields of South-East Wynad: “It is worthy of notice that the present surface of Wynaad has probably only been exposed after a slow wearing away of over two thousand feet of superincumbent gnoiss which was once continuous between the Nilgiri mountains and the Vellera Mala range”.— (Records, Geological Survey, Vol.VIII p. 43.)

NOTEs: 2: So far as is yet known, the Quilon beds do not extend into Malabar, but the Warkilli beds are known to occur at two places in least in Malabar, namely, going northwards

(1) Beypore where Lieutenant Newbold obtained the following measurements in the suction of a cliff extending down to the water-level in the river :

“Four feet, of muddy alluvial soil.

Ten feet of loose sandstone; with beds of achroous earth.

Twenty feet of gritty sandstone, passing into gritty laterite, and variegated in its lower portions with red and yellow bands.

Carboniferous stratum varying from a few inches to five feet in thickness.” —(Madras Journal of Literature and Science, Vol. Xl, pp. 239-243).

Mr. King seems to have overlooked this account of Lieutenant Newbold’s when stating that all the lateritic country about Calicut and Beypore is “merely one of a decomposed forte of gneiss”,- (Records, Geological Survey. Vol. XV, p. 101.)

(2) Mr. O. Cannan, an ex-Deputy Collector of Malabar, while sinking (January—May 1876) a well in his garden in the Cantonment of Cannanore, observed the following facts:

Strata met with


Red earth mid gravel 8

Tough, hard laterite . . 20

Red and yellow clay . . 10

Blue clay . . 10

Carboniferrous stratum with dammer (resin) fruits resembling

those of the alukkappayim (Sphæranthus Ind.) ores and metals 4

White sand with spring of water l

Total depth of well 56

Diameter of well 17

Distance from the sea about quarter mile. This carboniferous stratum is well known at Cannanore, and it is often met with in sinking wells at that place. It also crops out in the low cliffs on the seashore.

In boring for foundations for a road bridge in the bed of the Kallai river at Calicut in 1883, a stratum of what looked like a carbonaceous shale was met with at thirty feet to thirty-six feet, below river bed. In one bore hole the thickness of this stratum was six feet; in another two feet. Other bore holes on either side did not meet, with this stratum, which lay under stiff, grey, black and blue clays. END of NOTEs

“The gneisses are generally of the massive grey section of the series, that is, they are nearest to the rocks of the Nilgiris, though they differ from them in being coarse-grained or more largely crystallised, and in being generally quartzose rocks.

“So quartzose are they, that there are, locally, frequent thin beds of nearly pure quartzrock which are at times very like reefs of veinquartz. Often those beds are strongly felspathic, the felspar occurring among the quartz in distinguishable grains, or larger crystalline masses, giving the rock rather a granitic appearance. The only other region where I know of somewhat similar beds of quartz rock occurring with other gneisses is in the schistose region of the Nellore district. There, however, the quartz rock becomes often a fine, compact quartzite; here, in Travancore, there are no approaches to such compact forms.

“The common gneisses are felspathic quartzose varieties of white or grey colours, very largely charged with garnets. A particular form of them is an exceedingly tough, hut largely crystallized, dark-grey or greenish felspathic rock.

“Massive hornblendic gneisses are not common. Indeed, hornblende may be said to be a comparatively rare constituent of the Travancore gneisses.

“All the gneisses are more or less charged with titaniferous iron in minute grains; they are likewise—only more visibly—as a rule, highly garnetiferous. In fact, one might say that Travancore is essentially a country of garnetiferous gneisses. The garnets themselves are only locally obtainable, it being impossible to break them from the living rock while they are generally decomposed or weathered. They are generally of small size, but are very rich in colour, the precious garnet being very common. Other minerals, such as red, blue and yellow sapphire and jacinth, arc found among the garnet sands so common on the seashore at certain places. The sea-sands are also full of titaniferous iron grain. While on this subject, I may instance the beautiful and long known constitution of the shore sands at Cape Comorin, where, on the beach, may be seen the strongest-coloured streaks or ribbons, of good width, of bright scarlet, black, purple, yellow and white sands of all these minerals and the ordinary silica.

"As will be seen further on, an enormous quantity of ferruginous matter is collected among certain forms of weathered gneiss and other rocks, the source of which is hardly accounted for in the apparent sparse distribution of iron in the gneisses. After all, however, an immense supply of ferruginous matter must result from the weathering of the garnets, when we consider that they are so generally prevalent in all the gneisses, and crowdedly so in very many of them.

“The general lie of the gneisses is in two or three parallel folds striking west-north-west to east-south-east. There is, perhaps, rather a tendency of the strike more to the northward in the broad part of the hills, about Peermad, and on towards the Cochin territory. Thus between Trivandrum and Tinnevelly on the west coast, or for some twelve to twenty miles inland, the dip is high to the south-south-west inland of the terraced or plateau country, or among the first parallel ridges there is a north-north-east dip ; then, on the mountain zone, there is again a high dip generally to the south-south-west.

Thus the inclination of the beds is generally high, right across the strike with a crushed-up condition of the folds; but they are often at a low angle, and the anticlinal on the western, the synclinal on the eastern, side are plainly distinguishable. About Kurtallam (Courtallum), on the Tinnevelly side, the rise up from the synclinal is very well displayed, and in their strike west-north-westward into the broad mountain land, the beds of this place clearly take part in a further great anticlinal which is displayed in a great flat arch of the Peermad strata. With this widening out of the mountain mass there is rather an easier lie of the strata.

"Southwards from the Ariankow traverse just detailed, there is much crushing up of the beds ; but they roll out flatter again towards the southern extremity, and there are good indications of a further synclinal to the south-south-west in the northerly low-dipping beds of Cape Comorin.

Foliation is very strongly developed : indeed it is here, practically, bedding and lamination, of which there are some wonderful exhibitions. At Capo Comorin, indeed, some of the gneiss in its weathered condition (not lateritised) is scarcely to be distinguished, at first, from good thick bedded and laminated sandstones and flaggy sandstones.

“There is no special development of igneous rocks either in the way of granites or greenstones, though small veins and dykes are common, generally running nearly with the strike of the gneiss. In South Travancore, or north of the parallel of Trivandrum, there are stronger occurrences of granite, in which the mica is abundant and in largish masses.

"The great feature about the gneisses in Travancore, and indeed also in Cochin and Malabar, is their extraordinary tendency to weather or decompose, generally into white, yellow, or reddish felspathic clayey rocks, which, in many places and often very extensively, ultimately become what is here always called laterite1.

NOTEs: 1. The vexed question of the formation of laterite is still sub-judice. There are three theories accounting for it, namely, the marine ; the fluviatile; and the sub-aerial. The chief difficulty lies in the total absence of all organic remains, for chipped instruments, which have boon found in it, are only indirectly of organic origin. Alluding to the different kinds of rock which go by the name of “laterite ” Mr. King, in a footnote to his paper on “the Warkilli and Quilon beds in Travancore,” says :

“The origin of laterite being still unsettled, it is as well that no opportunity should be neglected for keeping certain points in the investigation well to the fore. Only lately I see that my colleague Mr. F.R Mallet, in his paper 'On the ferruginous rocks associated with the basaltic rocks of North-Eastern Ulster in relation to Indian laterite (Records, Geological Survey of India, XIV, p. 148), writes with reference to a generalisation of Mr. W. J. M’Gee of Farley, Iowa, United States of America : 'But that laterite is a product, of the alteration in situ of the underlying rocks is a view open to serious objections, which has been fully discussed by Mr. Blanford.’

Now this is striking at actual facts, against which no local or theoretical objections can be taken into consideration; for, to put it plainly, and as long as we are unable to define strictly what shall and what shall not be called laterite among the strange ferruginous rocks which go by that name, certain forms of this rock are actually and really an altered condition of the rock in situ.

Such is the case in Travancore, Malabar, and Ceylon, where I have over and over again traced the laterite (as it is called in Travancore) or the ‘Kabuk’ (the Singalese synonym) into the living gneiss rock. I have held this view of what may be called the lateritisation of gneiss with Mr. R. Bruce Foote (my colleague in Madras) for the last twenty years : our conclusions have been based on observations on the Nilgris, Shevaroys, and other elevated regions in the Kurnool und Cuddapah districts ; and my enlarged experience of the western coast, and Ceylon has only confirmed it.

Our experience of the Deccan laterites in not so extended, but, we are agreed also that some of these must be products of alteration of the rock in situ.”—(Records, Geological Survey, XV, p. 96). And Mr. King goes on in the text (p. 97) to distinguish “three forms of rock here (Warkilli) and in the neighbourhood which usually go by the name of laterite:

"(1) Superficial ferruginously cemented debris.

“(2) The ferruginous, clayey, reddish or brown coloured, irregularly vesicular and vermiform scabrous rock forming the uppermost portion of the Warkilli beds, which is unmistakably detrital, and which I will call laterite in this paper.

(3) The altered form of decomposed gneiss (called ‘Kabuk’ in Ceylon), which I shall here write of as lateritised gneiss. This form always eventually shows traces of original crystalline structure and constitution.” END OF NOTEs

The evidence of this are, after all, only well seen in the field ; but it may be stated here that these are seen principally in the constituent minerals, mainly the quartz, being still identifiable in much of the rock ; in the lamination or foliation being also traceable ; in the gradual change from the massive living rock to the soft and finally hard, scabrous, and vermicular ferruginous clayey resultant called laterite ; and in the thin, pale, and poorly ferruginous forms exhibited by the weathering and alteration of the more felspathic and quartzose gneisses.

"This altered form of the weathered gneiss occurs over a definite area which I have laid down approximately in the map. At the same time, the change from unweathered gneiss to this belt is not sharp ; for long before the eastern limit of the more generally lateritised belt is reached, approaching it from the mountain zone, the great change has begun.

“Very soon after one begins to leave the higher ribs of the mountains and to enter on the first long slopes loading down to the low country, the gneiss begins to be weathered for some depth into a clayey rock, generally of pale colours, streaked and veined with ferruginous matter, and having always an appreciable upper surface of scabrous or pisolitic brown iron clay, which is, of course, probably largely the result of ferruginous wash, and, less so, of ferruginous infiltration. Also the ferruginous and lateritoid character is devolved to a certain extent according to the composition of the gneisses ; but, on the whole, there is no doubt that the upper surface generally over large areas is lateritised to a certain depth irrespective of the varying constitution of the strata.

“Then, as the rocks are followed or crossed westward the alteration becomes more frequent, decided, and deeper seated ; though still, all over the field, ridges, humps, and bosses of the living rock rise up from the surrounding more or less decomposed low-lying rock areas.“

This generally irregular and fitfully altered condition of the gneisses begins at an elevation of about four hundred foot above the sea, and thus it extends as a sort of fringe of varying width along the lower slopes of the mountains.

At a yet lower level, say from two hundred to one hundred and fifty feet, and so nearer the sea-coast, there is a better defined belt of more decidedly lateritised form of weathered gneiss, in which the unaltered rock occurs less frequently, and then always in more or less flatly rounded humps and masses, which never rise above a general dead level. This belt is, in fact, a country of undulating downs (where free from thick and lofty jungle), or tolerably uniform level stretches of forest land. Occasionally it also shows a plateau surface, or it is broken into small and low flat-topped hills. Always it is very deeply indented by river and stream valleys, or oven by some of the backwaters which have high and steep shores.

“Further northwards the plateau character of the lateritic gneiss belt is very well developed in Malabar.

“ It is remarkable of this coastal belt of country that its laterite (an altered, or ferruginously infiltrated condition of weathered or decomposed gneiss) is not to be distinguished from any other laterite, except that which is made up of obviously detrital material,

“Whatever the laterite of Travancore or Malabar may have been originally, it is a useless form of the rock, being crumbly and soft as a general rule, and oftener of a red colour than brown, The character of the climate does, in fact, appear to militate against the changing of the red peroxide of iron in the rock to the brown peroxide, during which change the proper cementing and hardening of the sound rock, such as that on the east coast or in the Deccan, is evidently brought about.

“The next succeeding rock formations, namely, the Quilon and Warkilli beds, occur as a very small patch on the coast between the Quilon and Anjengo backwaters.

“The Quilon beds are only known through the researches of the late General Cullen, who found them, cropping out at the base of the low laterite cliffs edging the backwater of that place, and again in wells which he had dug or deepened for the purpose, I was myself not able to find a truce1 of them. They are said to be argillaceous limestones, or a kind of dolomite, in which a marine fauna2 of univalve shells, having an eocene facies , was found, and they occur at about forty feet below the laterite of Quilon, which is really the upper part of the next group.

NOTEs: 1. They have since been satisfactorily identified as occurring at a place called Parappakkara on the Quilon backwater about six and a half miles north-east of the Residency at Quilon.

2. The marine fauna to which Mr. King here refers in thus described in an extract quoted by him in his paper on “The Warkilli and Quilon beds in Travancore.”

“Lastly come the argillaceous limestone of the Malabar Const, not only abundantly charged with the orbolite just mentioned” (Orb. Malabarica—but it is doubtful for reasons assigned by Mr. King, whether this orbolite was actually found in the Quilon beds), “ but thou again in company with Strombus fortisi, together with Cerithium rude, Ranella bufo, Cassis sculpta, Voluta jugosa, Conus calenulatus, and G. marginatus (Grant. Geol. Cutch. Tert. Foss.) : also Natica, Turbo, Pleurotoma, Fasciolaria, Murex, Cancellaria, Ancillaria, and Cyprea, all (now species?) closely allied in form to the figured shells of the eocene period. The orbolite differs very little, except in size, from Orbiculina angulata, Zam. (Encyclop. Methodique, page 468, fig. 3), from which I infer that the latter should also be included among orbolites, Zamarck.” — [Records, Geological Survey, XV, p. 96.] END OF NOTEs

“The Warkilli beds, on the other hand, are clearly seen in the cliffs edging the sea-shore some twelve miles south of Quilon, where they attain a thickness of about one hundred and eighty feet, and have the following succession in descending order : —

Laterite (with sandstone masses).

Sandy clays (or lithomarge).

Sandy clays (with sandstone bands).

Alum clays.

Lignite beds (with logs of wood, etc.).

The bottom lignite beds rest on loose white sand, and nothing is known, of any lower strata.

“It will be seen how this set of strata has an upper portion, or capping of laterite, which is, however, clearly detrital. On the landward edge of the field of those Warkilli beds, there is in places only a thin skin, representative of these upper beds, of lateritic grits and sandstones lying directly on the gneiss, which is itself also lateritised ; and it is very hard, as may be supposed, to distinguish the boundary between the two unless the detrital character of the former deposits is well displayed. Thus the upper part of the formation has overlapped the gneiss. It is also this upper portion which overlies the Quilon beds, which are also apparently overlapped.

“These Warkilli beds constitute, for so much of the coast, the seaward edge of the plateau or terraced country above described, and they present similar features. The Warkilli downs are a feature of the country—bare, grass grown, long, flat undulations of latorite, with, about Warkilli itself, small plateau hills forming the higher ground—one hundred and eighty to two hundred feet above the sea. These downs, too, and the small plateaus or flat-topped hills, are partly of the Warkilli laterite and partly of the lateritoid gnoiss.

“Whatever form of denudation may have produced the now much worn terrace of the gneissic portion of the country, the same also determined the general surface of the Warkilli beds. Indeed, it gradually dawned on me while surveying this country, having the remembrance of what I had seen of the plateaus and terraced lowland in Malabar in previous years, that here, clearly, on this western side of India is an old marine terrace, which must be of later date than the Warkilli beds.

“These are, as I have endeavoured to show in another paper, of probably upper tertiary ago, and equivalent of the Cuddalore sandstones of the Coromandel. Hence this terrace must be late tertiary or post-pliocene, and it marks, like the long stretches of laterite and sandstones on the eastern side of the country, the last great or decided elevation1 of Southern India, prior to which, as is very probable, the Indian land rose almost directly from the sea. by its Western Ghats and had an eastern shore line which is now indicated very well by the inner edge of the Tanjore, South Arcot, Madras, Nellore, and Godavari belts of latorite and sandstone.

NOTEs: 1. This reminds one of the traditionary account of the miraculous reclamation of Keralam from the sea by the might of Parasu Raman. END OF NOTEs

“Mr. Foote has already generalised in this way for the eastern side of Southern India in particular ; but I think he makes the elevation too great, including, as he does in his latorite deposits, patches of lateritised gravels and rock masses ranging up to a height of five hundred feet at least, which are not so definitely part and parcel of the proper coastal developments.

“The plateau form of the Coromandel areas has often already been commented on ; but their connection with a terraced form of marine denudation is more clearly brought out now that the evident conformation of the Travancore and Malabar lowland is ascertained.

“The somewhat different level of the surfaces of these plateau lands on each side of the peninsula is also interesting in so far as there is an evident general very slight inclination of the whole to the south-eastward,

“One more very small patch of variegated sandstones, but associated with scarcely any laterite, occurs in the Travancore country at Nagarcoil, about twelve miles north of Cape Comorin. I should certainly take this to be representative of the Cuddalore sandstones so long as no positive evidence to the contrary turns up ; and it may be the nearest connecting link between these rocks on the eastern coast and the Warkilli beds,

“The recent deposits are the usual blown-sands and alluvial deposits of the low flats along the coast ; an exceptional form occurs at Cape Comorin in the shape of a hard calcareous sandstone, which is crowded with true fossils and casts of the living Helix vitata. It appears to be simply a blown-sand, modified through the infiltration of calcareous waters. Loose blown -sands are heaped over it now in places, among which are again thousands and thousands of the dead shells of the past season. The examination of this deposit has, however, been left to Mr. Foote, who has likewise reserved for his study other remarkable fossiliferous rocks of very late age which occur in this neighbourhood.”

The soils resulting from the geological formations which Mr. King thus describes have been roughly grouped by the natives into three classes, namely —

Pasima—a rich, heavy, clayey, tenacious soil.

Pasima-rasi—the above with an admixture of sand, and of a loamy character.

Rasi—sandy soils.

Each of these classes is again subdivided into three, so that in reality there are nine classes of soils, and this classification is used in determining the revenue assessments on rice lands, to which indeed this classification is alone applied. It is also laid clown in the Hindu Sastras that the above classification of soils can be roughly applied to any particular soil in the following manner : one cubic kol or yard of earth being excavated, soil of the best description (pasima), if put back into the pit thus excavated, will suffice to more than fill it ; while loamy soil (pasima-rasi) will exactly fill it, and sandy soil (rasi) will not suffice to fill it.

The poor sandy soils are chiefly found on the low-lying lands near the coast, and the coconut palm flourishes vigorously in them if the subsoil water is within easy reach of its roots. The uplands are chiefly formed of detrital laterite, many of them being little better than gravel quarries, and of what Mr, King calls lateritised gneiss.

Some of the most productive grain land in the district, lies in the Walawanad Taluk where laterite is scarce, and where the pasima lands are chiefly to be met with. On the mountain slopes and ridges, where the gneiss does not crop up, there is an immense store of rich black mould produced by decayed vegetable matter.

The chief building material in the district is laterite, a most valuable material for some kinds of buildings and a most treacherous material for other kinds. In the mass, when not exposed to the atmosphere, it is as a rule soft and therefore easily obtained. It is cut out in squared oblong pieces with an axe having a bifurcated blade and is dressed to the shape wanted by means of a rough adze.

After exposure to the air for some time it becomes hard and answers nearly all the purposes for which bricks are used, but it varies greatly in quality. Some of the best sorts stand damp and exposure to the air as well as the best sandstone, while, on the other hand, arched bridges and high revetments, when constructed of inferior sorts, are notoriously unsafe, as the material (especially during the rains) is very apt to crush.

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