A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900]

Author: Athanasius Kircher  | Date: 1678

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Translated from Mundus subterraneus, Amsterdam, 1678.

The Igneous Network

This drawing portrays the compartments of heat or of fire, or what is the same thing, the fire cells, throughout all the bowels

FIG. 2.—"Ideal System of Subterranean Fire Cells from which Volcanic mountains arise, as it were, like vents." (From Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus, 1678.)

of the Geocosm, the wonderful handiwork of GOD! These are variously distributed so that nothing be lacking which is in any way necessary for the preservation of the Geocosm. Also it is not believed that the fire is located exactly in the way the drawing shows, nor the channels placed exactly in this order. For who has

FIG. 3.—"Ideal system by which is portrayed the propulsion of waters from the sea into mountain water-chambers, by canals and subterranean channels." (From Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus, 1678.)

examined this? Who among men ever penetrated down there? By this drawing we only wished to show that the bowels of the earth are full of channels and fire chambers, whether placed in this way or in another. In the end we trace fire from the center through all the paths of the subterranean world clear to those volcanic mountains out on its surface. The letter A indicates the central fire. The rest are glory-holes of Nature, marked B. Fire-conducting channels C are not conduits; they are fissures of the earth through which the gusts of fire make their way.

The Underground Water System

The central fire, A, pours out surging and burning exhalations to each and every part by fire-carrying channels. Striking the water-chambers, it forms some into hot springs. Some, it reduces to vapors which, rising to the vaults of hollow caves, are there condensed by cold into waters which, released at last, give rise to fountains and rivers. Among others, some, drawing the juice of various minerals from the source matrices, coalesce into metallic bodies or into new formations of combustible material destined to nourish the fire. Here you will also see the manner in which the sea, by pressure of air and wind or movement of the tide, pushes the waters through subterranean passages to the highest water-chambers of the mountains. But the Figure will show you all this better than I could describe it with a profusion of words. You see also that the subterranean globe conforms to sea and to lands on the uppermost extent of the earth, and these to the atmosphere, as the drawing shows. The rest will be more clear from the very description of the effects and from reasoning.


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Chicago: Athanasius Kircher, "The Subterranean World," A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900] in A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900], ed. Kirtley F. Mather and Shirley L. Mason (New York: Hafner Publishing Company, 1939), 17–19. Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CZG3JRRXI5ESSID.

MLA: Kircher, Athanasius. "The Subterranean World." A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900], in A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900], edited by Kirtley F. Mather and Shirley L. Mason, New York, Hafner Publishing Company, 1939, pp. 17–19. Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CZG3JRRXI5ESSID.

Harvard: Kircher, A, 'The Subterranean World' in A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900]. cited in 1939, A Source Book in Geology [1400-1900], ed. , Hafner Publishing Company, New York, pp.17–19. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CZG3JRRXI5ESSID.