Topsy Turvy

Page 46

These would be the four sections, separated by the line of zero in calculating the sea-level changes. Now, the question was to indicate the effects produced on the surface of the four sections in consequence of the displacement of the oceans.

Upon each of these sections there was a central point on which the effect would be at a maximum, either by the oceans rising up or by the waters retiring entirely. The calculations of J. T. Maston had established without a doubt, that at each of these maxima points the greatest height obtained would be 8,415 metres. It was therefore certain that the consequences would be most severe against the security of those points through the operation carried out by Barbicane & Co. The two effects may be considered separate in their action.

In two of the sections situated opposite each other in the northern hemisphere and in the southern as well, the oceans would retreat and invade the two other sections, opposing each other in each of the two hemispheres.

In the first section: The Atlantic Ocean would be nearly entirely emptied and the maximum point of depression being nearly at the region of Bermuda, where the ground would appear, if the depth of the ocean was inferior at that point to 8,415 metres. Consequently between Europe and America vast territories would be discovered which the United States, England, France, Spain, and Portugal could claim according to the geographical situation, as these powers might wish to do. It must be observed that in consequence of the falling of the oceans the air will also fall equally as much. Therefore the barometric pressure of Europe and that of America will be modified to such an extent that cities, situated even 20 or 30 degrees from the maxima points would only have the quantity of air which is now actually found in a height of one league in the atmosphere. The principal cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, Panama, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Cairo, Constantinople, Dantzig, Stockholm, on one side, and the cities corresponding in latitude on the other side, would keep their normal position with regard to the general level of the air. In regard to Bermuda, air would be missing there the same as it would be wanting to aeronauts who go higher than 8,000 metres. Therefore, it would be impossible to live there.

The same effect would obtain in the opposite section, which would contain the Indian Ocean, Australia, and a part of the Pacific Ocean, which would be thrown partly on the southern seacoasts of Australia.

The air into which they would be thrown would be very clear; there was no doubt on that point, but it would not be dense enough for human wants.

These in general were a part of the modifications which would take place in the two sections in which the oceans would be more or less emptied. There would undoubtedly appear new islands and mountains in such parts as the water did not entirely abandon.

But if the diminuation of the thickness of the air did not bring enough inconveniences to those parts of the new continents raised to the high zones of the atmosphere, what was to be the case of those parts which the erruption of waters put below the surface? We may still breathe under the diminished pressure of air below the atmospheric pressure. On the contrary, under a very few inches of water we cannot breathe at all, and this was the condition in which the other two sections found themselves. In the section northwest of Kilimanjaro the maximum point would be at Yakoutsk, in Siberia.

From this city submerged 8,415 metres under the water, less its present actual altitude, the liquid mass, decreasing, would extend to the neutral lines, drowning the greater part of Asiatic Russia and of India, of China, of Japan, and of American Alaska, to the Behring Sea. In regard to St. Petersburg and Moscow on one side, and Calcutta, Bangkok, Saigon, Pekin, Hong Kong and Yeddo on the other side, these cities would disappear under a cover of water sufficient to drown all Russians, Hindoos, Siamese, Cochin Chinese, Chinese and Japanese, if they did not have time to emigrate before the catastrophe.

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Topsy Turvy Page 47

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Jules Verne

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