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The hole exhibited marks of much violence, the turf being very much torn, and thrown about to some distance.
We searched several hours for the stone, which was heard to fall on the hill, but without success. Since that time, however, it has been discovered. It is unbroken, and exactly corresponds in appearance with the other specimens. It weighs 361 pounds,* It is probable that the five stones last described were all projected at the second explosion.
III. At the third explosion a mass of stone far exceeding the united weight of all we have hitherto described, fell in a field belonging to Mr. Elijah Seeley, and within thirty rods of his house. Mr. Seeley's is at the distance of about four miles from Mr. Prince's. Mr. Elihu Staples lives on the hill, at the bottom of which this body fell, and carefully observed the whole phenomenon.
After the last explosion, he says, a rending noise like that of a whirlwind passed along to the east of his house and immediately over his orchard, which is on the declivity of the hill. At the same instant a streak of light passed over the orchard in a large curve, and seemed to pierce the ground. A shock was felt, and a report heard like that of a heavy body falling to the earth ; but no conception being entertained of the real cause (for no one in this vicinity, with whom we have conversed, appeared to have ever heard of the fall of stones from the skies), it was supposed that lightning had struck the ground. Three or four hours after the event, Mr. Seely went into his field to look after his cattle. He found that some of them had leaped into the adjoining inclosure, and all exhibited strong indications of terror. Passing on, he was struck with surprise at seeing a spot of ground which he knew to have been recently turfed over, all torn up, and the earth looking fresh, as if from recent violence. Coming to the place, he found a great mass of fragments of a strange looking stone, and immediately called for his wife, who was second on the ground.
Here were exhibited the most striking proofs of violent collision. A ridge of micaceous schistus lying nearly even with the ground, and somewhat inclining like the hill to the southeast, was shivered to pieces, to a certain extent, by the impulse of the stone, which thus received a still more oblique direction, and forced itself into the earth to the depth of three feet, tearing a hole of five feet in length and four and a half feet in breadth, and throwing large masses of turf and fragments of stone and earth to the distance of 50 and 100 feet. Had there been no meteor, no explosions, and no witnesses of the light and shock, it would have been impossible for any person contemplating the scene to doubt, that a large and heavy body had really fallen from the skies with tremendous momentum.
* It has been purchased by Mr. Gibbs, of Newport, Rhode-Island, who has thus enriched his splendid collection of minerals with the finest meteoric stone which is probably extant. This specimen abounds so much in iron, that it might almost bə denominated an iron ore; some of the pieces of iron visible on the surface are more than an inch long.
From the best information which we could obtain of the quantity of fragments of this last stone, compared with its specific gravity, we concluded that its weight could not have fallen much short of 200 pounds. All the stones, when first found, were friable, being easily broken between the fingers ; this was especially the case, where they had been buried in the moist earth; but by exposure to the air, they gradually hardened.
This stone was all in fragments, none of which exceeded the size of a man's fist, and was rapidly dispersed by numerous visitors, who carried it away at pleasure. Indeed we found it difficult to obtain a sufficient supply of specimens of the various stones, an object, which was at length accomplished, principally by importunity and purchase.
The specimens obtained from the different places are perfectly similar. The most superficial observer would instantly pronounce them portions of a common mass. Few of the specimens weigh one pound, most of them less than half a pound, and from that to the fraction of an ounce.
The piece lately found on Tashowa Hill is the largest with which we are acquainted. Mr. Bronson's is the next in size. The largest specimen in our possession weighs six pounds, and is very perfect in its characteristic marks. Of smaller pieces we have a good collection. They possess every variety of form, which might be supposed to arise from fracture with violent force. On many of them, and chiefly on the large specimens, may be distinctly perceived portions of the external part of the meteor. It is everywhere covered with a thin black crust, destitute of splendor, and bounded by portions of the large irregular curve, which seems to have enclosed the meteoric mass. This curve is far from being uniform. It is sometimes depressed with concavities, such as might be produced by pressing a soft and yieldiny substance. The surface of the crust feels harsh, like the prepared fish skin, or shagreen. It gives sparks with the steel. There are certain portions of the stone covered with the black crust, which appear not to have formed a part of the outside of the meteor ; but to have received this coating in the interior parts, in consequence of fissures or cracks, produced probably by the intense heat, to which the body seems to have been subjected. These portions are very uneven, being full of little protuberances. The specific gravity of the stone is 3:6, water being one. The specific gravity of different pieces varies a little; this is the mean of three.
The color of the mass of the stone is mainly dark ash, or, more properly, a leaden color. It is interspersed with distinct masses, from the size of a pin's head to the diameter of one or two inches, which are almost white, resembling in many instances, the crystals of feldspar in some varieties of granite. The texture of the stone is granular and coarse, resembling some pieces of grit stone. It cannot be broken by the fingers, but gives a rough and irregular fracture with the hammer, to which it readily yields. On inspecting the mass, five distinct kinds of matter may be perceived by the eye.
1. The stone is thickly interspersed with black or grey globular masses, most of them spherical, but some are oblong. Some of them are of the size of a pigeon shot, and even of a pea, but generally they are much smaller. They can be detached by any pointed iron instrument, and leave a concavity in the stone. They are not attractable by the magnet, and can be broken by the hammer. If any of them appear to be affected by the magnet, it will be found to be owing to the adherence of a portion of metallic iron.
2. Masses of yellow pyrites may be observed. Some of them are of a brilliant golden color, and are readily distinguishable by the eye. Some are reddish and some are whitish. The pyrites appear most abundant in the light colored spots, where they exhibit very numerous and brilliant points, which are very conspicuous through a lens.
3. The whole stone is interspersed with malleable iron, alloyed with nickel. These masses of malleable iron are very various in size, from mere points to the diameter of half an inch. They may be made very conspicuous by drawing a file across the stone.
4. The lead-colored mass has been described already, and constitutes by far the greater part of the stone. After being wet and exposed to the air, the stone becomes covered with numerous reddish spots, which do not appear in a fresh fracture, and arise manifestly from the rusting of the iron.
5. There are a few instances of matter dispersed irregularly through the stone, which are considered as intermediate between pyrites and malleable iron. They are sometimes in masses apparently crystalline, but usually irregular. They are black, and commonly destitute of splendor, but exposed by a recent fracture, they appear like a glossy superficial coating. They are sometimes attractable by the magnet, and sometimes not.
ART. II.-On the distillation of dense Hydrocarbons at high
temperatures, technically termed “Cracking;” by S. F. PECKHAM.
In the American reprint of the Chemical News, for June of this year, an article appears “On Naphtha and Illuminating Oil from heavy California Tar,” by Prof. B. Silliman, copied from the San Francisco Bulletin. In the September number of the same journal, an article appears “On the Distillation of Hydrocarbons,” by Joseph Hirsch, Ph.D., in which the results obtained by Prof. S. are subjected to criticism, and certain statements made in reference to the subject of a most extraordinary character.
At the same time that Mr. Corning was engaged upon the experiments, the results of which form the subject of Prof. Silliman's paper, I was engaged upon experiments of a similar character for the Geological Survey of California, the results of which have not yet been published. * These results differed somewhat from those obtained by Prof. S., as also the method by which they were obtained. I shall, therefore, give a brief summary, both of method and results, and compare the conclusions to be derived from them with the statements made by Dr. Hirsch,
Those who first attempted the manufacture of commercial oils from crude California materials, when operating with the upright still in common use for the manufacture of Pennsylvania oils, encountered an apparently insurmountable obstacle, viz: a large proportion of the distillate was neither light nor heavy, neither burning oil nor lubricating oil, but an oil intermediate in density between the two, and therefore not merchantable. The difficulty was so far overcome by enclosing the stills in brick-work, heating them entirely by radiant heat, and distilling very slowly, that the amount of heavy lubricating oil was largely increased, and the middlings” correspondingly diminished. The yield of illuminating oil, however, was very slightly increased, and it was for the purpose of securing a larger yield of that material, that my experiments were undertaken. I had at first intended to subject them to Mr. Downer's process of slow distillation in a high, upright still, the top of which was exposed to radiation. The small quantity of crude material at my command (5 gallons of each variety) rendered this operation exceedingly difficult to conduct suc
* The volume of Reports of the Survey on " Economical Geology," containing these results, is now ready for the press, but its publication is delayed by the failure of the last California Legislature in making the necessary appropriation.
cessfully, and it was with extreme satisfaction that I saw at the time, in the October number of the Chemical News for 1866, an announcement that Mr. Young of Glasgow had obtained a patent for the manufacture of illuminating oils from heavy paraffine oils, by distillation under pressure. It was necessary that I should operate on a small quantity at a time, and also, that I should subject the four or five different samples which I had, to the same treatment, in order that I might compare the results, and judge of their relative value. For that purpose I contrived the apparatus described in the September number of this Journal for 1867, which, so far as I know, has but one fault, viz: the chamber of the valve is too small, and should be enlarged sufficiently to enable the pressure to be regulated by weights instead of by a spring.
With a pressure of between 30 and 40 pounds per square inch (the exact amount was not ascertained) the following results were obtained. See table, page 11.
No. I was an oil procured from one of the tunnels of the Hayward Petroleum Company, of a specific gravity of .9023, yielding by distillation in a common still about 15 per cent of light oil, of a specific gravity of •810, with about 40 to 50 per cent of “middlings," and 20 per cent of light lubricating oil.
No. II came from the celebrated Pico Spring, yielding the lightest oil of any natural outcrop in southern California. Its specific gravity was •8932, and it yielded to treatment by the ordinary method only about 20 per cent of illuminating oil of the proper density.
No. III was from the Cañada Laga, of a specific gravity of :9184, and yielding by the ordinary process only 3 per cent of illuminating oil.
No. IV was a sample of Maltha from the same spring as that operated upon by Prof. Silliman. Its specific gravity was •978, and it yielded about 2.5 per cent of illuminating oil.
This table exhibits the results of actual experiment, not of theory, and while they differ from those obtained by Prof. Silliman, the difference is in degree and not in kind, and is without doubt due to the superiority of the apparatus used by myself, and to the higher degree of pressure employed. Both series of experiments confirm each other, and alike prove, that dense petroleums and a thick heavy tar—as thick as ordinary molasses—which yield practically little or no illuminating oil by ordinary treatment, by distillation under pressure are subjected to what is technically termed “cracking,” and made to yield from 28 to 60 per cent of oil fit for burning, and rendered thereby nearly as valuable as the crude oils of Pennsylvania,