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Volume 20, 1887
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Art. XXXII.—On the Greensands of the Waihao Forks.

[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 1st September, 1887.]

In the last volume of “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute” Mr. A. McKay has a paper on “The Waihao Greensands, and their Relation to the Ototara Limestone,”* which is chiefly a criticism on a paper of mine in the same volume called “Note on the Geology of the Waihao Valley in South Canterbury.” I do not object in the least to criticism; on the contrary, I think it to be the very breath of science, without which no life would remain. Also, as a general rule, I think it unnecessary to answer a criticism, believing that the original paper and the critique on it are sufficient; and that the verdict should be left to others. But in the paper just mentioned, Mr. McKay has so far transgressed the rules of ordinary courtesy that I cannot remain altogether silent; for he has accused me of deliberately omitting the names of certain species from my list of fossils from the greensands of Waihao Forks, in order to make the palæontological evidence appear to prove these beds to be of Miocene age, when in reality it did nothing of the kind. Now, whatever may be my faults, I have never before been accused of intentionally concealing or garbling the truth. Indeed it would be easy for me to show that, over and over again, I have made haste to publish corrections of my own mistakes so soon as I found that I had been in error; but if I were now to allow this accusation of dishonesty to pass unnoticed, I could never again expect scientific men to place any trust in my statements.

The following is the passage in Mr. McKay's paper to which I refer:—“According to Hutton's list of fossils, the palæontological evidence is to all appearances decisive. Sixteen species of Mollusca are known—all of them said to have come from the Waihao greensands: the collection of 1867–68, named by him in 1876; and collections (of later date ?) now in the Canterbury Museum, 8 more, making 24 in all. Twenty-four, it would appear, then, are known to him, and in the Canterbury Museum; yet only 16 species are now cited by him. What of the remaining 8 species? They were sent by v. Haast to the Otago Museum and named by Professor Hutton in 1876. They are cited as fossils of the 'Waihao' in the 'Geology of Canterbury and Westland,' and now they are not! What has become of them? Lost? No; for their record remains” (l.c., p. 437). On this I will remark—

[Footnote] * “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xix., pp. 434–440.

[Footnote] † l.c., pp. 430–433.

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(1.) Mr. McKay's facts are not quite accurate. In my first paper (1876) I gave four species from the Waihao greensands—viz., Natica suturalis, Teredo heaphyi (= Cladopoda directa), Leda fastidiosa (= L. semiteres), and Pecten hochstetteri. Sir J. von Haast, in his “Geology of Canterbury and Westland” (1879), mentions as coming from'Waihao, 16 species of Mollusca in his list of fossils of the Oamaru formation, and 3 others in his list of fossils of the Pareora formation; that is, 19 species in all, Pecten hochstetteri not being included. The only species mentioned by Mr. McKay in his report (1881) is Aturia ziczac, and this is not in Dr. von Haast's list. In my last list (May, 1886,) I included 9 of these 20 species, and added 7 others from the collections in the Canterbury Museum. There are also 3 more,* which I omitted through inadvertence: they are Peristernia cincta, Mitra inconspicua, and Cardium patulum; all three being found in other places in the Pareora System, and the last in the Oamaru System as well. The list therefore now comprises 19 species, of which the only one due to Mr. McKay is Aturia ziczac; but this one alone is sufficient to disprove the Lower Cretaceo-tertiary age of the beds, as advocated by Mr. McKay.

(2.) I omitted 11 species mentioned by Sir Julius von Haast as coming from Waihao, because they are not said to come from the greensands, and I did not find them in the collection from the greensands in the Museum. In Dr. von Haast's list all the beds at the Waihao are included, the limestone as well as the greensands, and, obviously, it would have been incorrect for me to have affiliated all these fossils to the greensands without any evidence. Mr. McKay assumes that Dr. von Haast's list is merely a copy of the one I sent him in 1875, and that I am responsible for it; but this is quite a gratuitous assumption on his part, and one which is also quite wrong.

(3.) Mr. McKay does not give a list of the species which he accuses me of omitting, and so leads his readers to infer that I have done something dreadful. I will therefore supply the names, which are as follows:—Mitra enysi, Voluta attenuata (= elongata), Trochita neozelanica, Crepidula striata, Dentalium conicum var., Dentalium tenue, Cucullæa attenuata, Pinna distans (?), Pecten venosus, Pecten beethami var. β, Rhynchonella nigricans, and the echinoderm, Amphidotus sulcatus.

Now, of these 11 species of Mollusca and one Echinoderm, Mitra enysi, Voluta attenuata, Trochita neozelanica, Cucullæa attenuata, and Rhynchonella nigricans are all found in both the Pareora and Oamaru Systems, and are therefore not distinctive

[Footnote] * See “Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S. Wales,” 2nd Series, vol. i., p. 203, etc. (March, 1886).

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of either. Crepidula striata, Dentalium conicum, and Pecten venosus are, so far as is known to me, confined to the Pareora System (including the Hutchinson's Quarry beds); while the other 4 are confined to the Oamaru System. But of these last, Pinna distans is doubtfully identified, while Pecten beethami var. β, and Amphidotus sulcatus, must certainly have come from the limestone; thus leaving (of the distinctive fossils possibly coming from the greensands) Dentalium tenue belonging to the Oamaru System, against 3 species characteristic of the Pareora System. Consequently, if I had admitted these species into my list they would have strengthened my argument: but I omitted them, because there is no evidence that they have been found in the greensands. Certainly these omitted species do not aid Mr. McKay in his contention that the greensands are of Lower Cretaceo-tertiary age, for two of them are recent species, and Sir James Hector says that the Cretaceo-tertiary formation contains no recent species at all;* indeed living species of Mollusca could not be expected to occur in beds of that age.

I do not care to pursue Mr. McKay further, as I am content to leave it to future geologists to judge between us; but it seems necessary to state again that, notwithstanding Mr. McKay's opinion, both Voluta corrugata and Pleurotoma fusiformis are in the collection made by Sir J. von Haast from the greensands at Waihao Forks; and as I originally described both these species, I ought to be at least as competent to recognise them as is Mr. McKay, who, although an excellent collector, has not yet shown any great acquaintance with palæontology, and who, as in the present case, carefully avoids giving a list of the fossils which he has himself collected.

One other mistake of Mr. McKay's may be corrected. He says: “Beyond all question, the greensands underlie the Waihao limestone; and as explanations of the contrary view, islands and fiords without number, crush, faults, contortions, and, in short, all that might render the geology of a district complicated and obscure, are invoked in vain. Not merely do the sections specially examined show this; the general structure of this district, and that of all Southern Canterbury and Northeastern Otago, points to the same conclusion; and it is rare, almost never, that the Pareora rocks rest on other beds than those of Upper Eocene or Cretaceo-tertiary age” (loc. cit., p. 439). Really, Mr. McKay's memory must be very bad, for he has evidently forgotten that in the map which illustrates

[Footnote] * “Quar. Jour. Geol. Soc. of London,” vol. xxxii., p. 55, and “Guide to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, N.Z. Court,” 1886, p. 55.

[Footnote] † There are two greensands at Waihao, one of which, no doubt, underlies the limestone, but it is not the one in question, which contains Pareora fossils.—F.W.H.

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his report on this very district in 1881 he shows the Pareora rocks (Lower Miocene) resting on the Wairoa and Kaihiku series, between Pudding Hill and the Hakateramea River,* and on the Maitai and Te Anau series to the west of Elephant Hill. Also, in the “Geology of Canterbury and Westland,” (Plate of Sections, No. 5, Section No. 4,) Sir J. von Haast shows the Pareora formation resting on his Waihao formation (Older Palæozoic) between Elephant Hill and the Upper Waihao—occupying here the very same position with reference to the Oamaru formation that I have supposed it to occupy a few miles further down the river. A little reflection will, no doubt, recall to Mr. McKay's mind other localities, between Lake Te Anau in Otago and the Awatere in Marlborough, where the same thing can be seen.

[Footnote] * In his report he says that “they rest directly on the older Palæozoic rocks,” (“Geol. Report, 1881,” p. 65,) but his map shows them resting here on older Mesozoic rocks.