There is one drawing in Mr. Lowell’s book (p. 219) of the mouths, or starting points, of the Euphrates and Phison, two widely separated double canals diverging at an angle of about 40 deg. from the same two oases, so that the two inner canals cross each other. Now this suggests two wide bands of weakness in the planet’s crust radiating probably from within the dark tract called the ‘Mare Icarium,’ and that some widespread volcanic outburst initiated diverging cracks on either side of these bands. Something of this kind may have been the cause of most of the double canals, or they may have been started from two or more craterlets not far apart, the direction being at first decided by some local peculiarity of structure; and where begun continuing in straight lines owing to homogeneity or uniform density of material. This is very vague, but the phenomena are so remarkable, and so very imperfectly known at present, that nothing but suggestion can be attempted.
Concluding Remarks on the ’Canals.’
In this somewhat detailed exposition of a possible, and, I hope, a probable explanation of the surface-features of Mars, I have endeavoured to be guided by known facts or accepted theories both astronomical and geological. I think I may claim to have shown that there are some analogous features of terrestrial rock-structure to serve as guides towards a natural and intelligible explanation of the strange geometric markings discovered during the last thirty years, and which have raised this planet from comparative obscurity into a position of the very first rank both in astronomical and popular interest.
This wide-spread interest is very largely due to Mr. Lowell’s devotion to its study, both in seeking out so admirable a position as regards altitude and climate, and in establishing there a first-class observatory; and also in bringing his discoveries before the public in connection with a theory so startling as to compel attention. I venture to think that his merit as one of our first astronomical observers will in no way be diminished by the rejection of his theory, and the substitution of one more in accordance with the actually observed facts.
A Suggested Experiment to Illustrate the ‘Canals’ of Mars.
If my explanation of the ‘canals’ should be substantially correct—that is, if they were produced by the contraction of a heated outward crust upon a cold, and therefore non-contracting interior, the result of such a condition might be shown experimentally.