Destruction of the Continent.
Unlike the subsequent fate of Atlantis, which was submerged by great tidal waves, the continent of Lemuria perished by volcanic action. It was raked by the burning ashes and the red-hot dust from numberless volcanoes. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it is true, heralded each of the great catastrophes which overtook Atlantis, but when the
land had been shaken and rent, the sea rushed in and completed the work, and most of the inhabitants perished by drowning. The Lemurians, on the other hand, met their doom chiefly by fire or suffocation. Another marked contrast between the fate of Lemuria and Atlantis was that while four great catastrophes completed the destruction of the latter, the former was slowly eaten away by internal fires, for, from the time when the disintegrating process began towards the end of the first map period, there was no cessation from the fiery activity, and whether in one part of the continent or another, the volcanic action was incessant, while the invariable sequence was the subsidence and total disappearance of the land, just as in the case of Krakatoa in 1883.
So closely analogous was the eruption of Mount Pelée, which caused the destruction of St. Pièrre, the capital of Martinique, about two years ago, to the whole series of volcanic catastrophes on the continent of Lemuria, that the description of the former given by some of the survivors may be of interest. "An immense black cloud had suddenly burst forth from the crater of Mont Pelée and rushed with terrific velocity upon the city, destroying everything--inhabitants, houses and vegetation alike--that it found in its path. In two or three minutes it passed over, and the city was a blazing pyre of ruins. In both islands [Martinique and St. Vincent] the eruptions were characterised by the sudden discharge of immense quantities of red-hot dust, mixed with steam, which flowed down the steep hillsides with an ever-increasing velocity. In St. Vincent this had filled many valleys to a depth of between 100 feet and 200 feet, and months after the eruptions was still very hot, and the heavy rains which then fell thereon caused enormous explosions, producing clouds of steam and dust that shot upwards to a height of from 1500 feet to 2000 feet, and filled the rivers with black boiling mud." Captain
[paragraph continues] Freeman, of the "Roddam," then described "a thrilling experience which he and his party had at Martinique. One night, when they were lying at anchor in a little sloop about a mile from St. Pièrre, the mountain exploded in a way that was apparently an exact repetition of the original eruption. It was not entirely without warning; hence they were enabled to sail at once a mile or two further away, and thus probably saved their lives. In the darkness they saw the summit glow with a bright red light; then soon, with loud detonations, great red-hot stones were projected into the air and rolled down the slopes. A few minutes later a prolonged rumbling noise was heard, and in an instant was followed by a red-hot avalanche of dust, which rushed out of the crater and rolled down the side with a terrific speed, which they estimated at about 100 miles an hour, with a temperature of 1000° centigrade. As to the probable explanation of these phenomena, no lava, he said, had been seen to flow from either of the volcanoes, but only steam and fine hot dust. The volcanoes were, therefore, of the explosive type; and from all his observations he had concluded that the absence of lava-flows was due to the material within the crater being partly solid, or at least highly viscous, so that it could not flow like an ordinary lava-stream. Since his return this theory had received striking confirmation, for it was now known that within the crater of Mont Pelée there was no lake of molten lava, but that a solid pillar of red-hot rock was slowly rising upwards in a great conical, sharp-pointed hill, until it might finally overtop the old summit of the mountain. It was nearly 1000 feet high, and slowly grew as it was forced upwards by pressure from beneath, while every now and then explosions of steam took place, dislodging large pieces from its summit or its sides. Steam was set free within this mass as it cooled, and the rock then passed into a dangerous and highly explosive condition, such that an explosion must sooner or later
take place, which shivered a great part of the mass into fine red-hot dust." 1
A reference to the first Lemurian map will show that in the lake lying to the south-east of the extensive mountainous region there was an island which consisted of little more than one great mountain. This mountain was a very active volcano. The four mountains which lay to the south-west of the lake were also active volcanoes, and in this region it was that the disruption of the continent began. The seismic cataclysms which followed the volcanic eruptions caused such wide-spread damage that by the second map period a large portion of the southern part of the continent had been submerged.
A marked characteristic of the land surface in early Lemurian times was the great number of lakes and marshes, as well as the innumerable volcanoes. Of course, all these are not shown on the map. Only some of the great mountains which were volcanoes, and only some of the largest lakes are there indicated.
Another volcano on the north-east coast of the continent began its destructive work at an early date. Earthquakes completed the disruption, and it seems probable that the sea shown in the second map as dotted with small islands to the south-east of the present Japan, indicates the area of seismic disturbance.
In the first map it will be seen that there were lakes in the centre of what is now the island-continent of Australia--lakes where the land is at present exceedingly dry and parched. By the second map period those lakes had disappeared, and it seems natural to conjecture that the districts where those lakes lay, must, during the eruptions of the great volcanoes which lay to the south-east (between the present Australia and New Zealand), have been so raked with red-hot volcanic dust that the very water-springs were dried up.
41:1 The "Times," 14th Sept., 1903.