Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/201

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133
VESTIDE DU PAL

houses so that not infrequently a week passes before the inhabitants see daylight. The Vestide rises above this village to the height from the sea of 4,220 feet. The name Vestide in patois signifies a sheltered place, and is applied to the crater itself, the only sheltered spot thereabouts, and indeed this huge basin is an Eden to the peasants of Le Pal. The bottom is cultivated, but the sides are covered with timber. The volcano is remarkable not only for its enormous proportions, the bottom of the crater being over two miles in circumference, but also for its alternate dejections of lava, mud, and cinders. The depth of the crater is 900 feet, and its diameter 5,500 feet.

In the midst of the crater a slight cone has been raised by the expiring efforts of the volcanic fires. Each eruption has left its traces written in ineffaceable characters on the slopes of the crater. Here was one of sand and mud, there one of lava and scoriæ ejected over the bed of mud. Then again an outpour of lava, and after that another of mud containing great boulders of granite burnt red and rendered friable.

"Imagination is roused," says M. A. Mazon, "at the thought of what must have been the scene when the volcano of la Vestide belched forth tempests of fire which agitated, upset, and shaped the soil of the Vivarais. The huge bowl, incessantly active, threw out showers of cinders into the basins alike of the Rhone and of the Loire. When winter came with its hurricanes of snow, deluges of water were precipitated into the furnace, but quenched the fires for a moment only, and then burst forth in torrents of mud mingled with steam. It was thus that the walls of the crater were built up into veritable mountains."[1]

  1. Voyage aux Pays Volcaniques du Vivavais, Privas, 1878.