Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/53

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43
VOLCANOES, THEIR ACTION AND DISTRIBUTION.

four vessels could find employment, and the crews of them had to do additional work on shore in order to support themselves, the returns from the beds being so inadequate.

The evil of excessive fishery then exists, and, continuing, can have but one effect, and we have seen how disastrous is that result. Our oyster-beds are, however, so extensive, the animals are so widely distributed, and are so easily transported and transplanted, that the total failure of the American oyster-beds must be postponed for some time. But the failure of the beds of different localities may occur at any time, and it is more than probable that those of Chesapeake Bay will be practically exhausted before many years. The deterioration and final exhaustion of the beds, either of particular localities or of the whole country, would, however, cause far greater distress, discomfort, and inconvenience in the United States than the failure of the foreign beds caused abroad. With us the oyster is no luxury, but a means of subsistence to a large number of people. Oysters are consumed from Maine to Texas, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and immense numbers are also annually exported. In supplying this great demand numbers of the poorer classes of citizens find a constant and profitable employment, and thus the deterioration of the beds, or extinction of the oysters, would not only be felt by the consumer in the much-increased price of a desirable and nutritious article of food, but by the producer, in a loss of employment, and that loss occurring in localities where there is hardly any other resource.

[The natural history of the oyster with especial reference to the process of reproduction and the conditions influencing its rate of increase will form the subject of a concluding article.—Ed.]

 

VOLCANOES, THEIR ACTION AND DISTRIBUTION.[1]

"WHAT is a volcano?" This is a familiar question, often addressed to us in our youth, which "Catechisms of Universal Knowledge" and similar school manuals have taught us to reply to in some such terms as the following: "A volcano is a burning mountain, from the summit of which issue smoke and flames." This description, says Professor Judd, is not merely incomplete and inadequate as a whole, but each individual proposition of which it is made up is grossly inadequate and, what is worse, perversely misleading. In the first place, the action which takes place at volcanoes is not "burning," or combustion, and bears, indeed, no relation whatever to that well-known

  1. Volcanoes, what they Are, and what they Teach. By John W. Judd, F.R.S. With Ninety-six Illustrations. "International Scientific Series." In press of D. Appleton & Co.