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Fr. Pyrenees] PYRENEES [Span. Pirineos

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 689 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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Fr. Pyrenees] PYRENEES [Span. Pirineos, a range of mountains in south-west Europe, separating the Iberian Peninsula from France, and extending for about 240 m., from the Bay of Biscay to Cape Creus, or, if only the main crest of the range be considered, to Cape Cerbere, on the Mediterranean Sea. For the most part the main crest constitutes the Franco-Spanish frontier; the principal exception to this rule is formed by the valley of Aran, which belongs orographically to France but politically to Spain. The Pyrenees are conventionally divided into three sections, the central, the Atlantic or western, and the eastern. The central Pyrenees extend eastward from the Port de Canfranc to the valley of Aran, and include the highest summits of the whole chain, Aneto or Pic de Nethou (11,168 ft.), in the Maladetta ridge, Posets (11,047 ft.), and Mont Perdu or Monte Perdido (10,997 ft.). In the Atlantic Pyrenees the average altitude gradually diminishes westward; while in the eastern Pyrenees, with the exception of one break at the eastern 687 extremity of the Pyrenees Ariegeoises, the mean elevation is maintained with remarkable uniformity, till at last a rather sudden decline occurs in the portion of the chain known as the Alberes. This threefold division is only valid so far as the elevation of the Pyrenean chain is concerned, and does not accurately represent its geological structure or general con-figuration. The careful examination of the chain by members of the English and French Alpine Clubs has since 188o consider-ably modified the views held with respect to its general character; the southern versant, formerly regarded as inferior in area, has been proved to be the more important of the two. It has been recognized, as shown in the maps of MM. Schrader, de St Sand and Wallon, that, taken as a whole, the range must be regarded, not as formed on the analogy of a fern-frond or fish-bone, with t1 lateral ridges running down to the two opposite plains, but rather as a swelling of the earth's crust, the culminating portion of which is composed of a series of primitive chains, which do not coincide with the watershed, but cross it obliquely, as if the ground had experienced a sidewise thrust at the time when the earth's crust was ridged up into the long chain under the influence of contraction. Both the orderly arrangement of these diagonal chains and the agreement which exists between the tectonic and geological phenomena are well shown in the geological and hypsometrical maps published in the Annuaire du Club Alpin francais for 1891 and 1892 by MM. Schrader and de Margerie. The primitive formations of the range, of which little beyond the French portions had previously been studied, are shown to be almost all continued diagonally on the Spanish side, and the central ridge thus presents the appearance of a series of wrinkles with an inclination (from north-west to south-east) greater than that of the chain as a whole. Other less pronounced wrinkles run from south-west to north-east and intersect the former series at certain points, so that it is by, alternate digressions from one to the other series that the irregular crest of ,the Pyrenees acquires its general direction. Far from having impressed its own direction on the orientation of the chain at large, this crest is merely the resultant of secondary agencies by which the primitive mass has been eroded and lessened in bulk, and though its importance from a hydrographic point of view is still considerable, its geological significance is practically nil. Geology.—The Pyrenees are divided by E. de Margerie and F. Schrader into a number of longitudinal zones. The central zone consists of Primary rocks, together with great masses of granite. It forms most of the higher summits, but west of the Pic d'Anie it disappears beneath an unconformable covering of Cretaceous deposits. On the French side the central zone is followed by (1) the zone of Ariege, consisting of Lower Cretaceous and Jurassic beds, together with granitic masses; (2) the zone of the Petites Pyrenees, Upper Cretaceous and Eocene; and (3) the zone of the Corbieres, consisting of Eocene and Primary rocks. On the Spanish side, from north to south, are (1) the zone of Mont Perdu, Upper Cretaceous and Eocene; (2) the zone of Aragon, Eocene; and (3) the zone of the Sierras, Trias, Cretaceous and Eocene. In France the zones are clearly defined only in the eastern part of the chain, while towards the west they merge into one another. In Spain, on the other hand, it is in the central part of the chain that the zones are most distinct. Although the number of zones recognized is the same on the two flanks, they do not correspond. The zone of the Corbieres has no equivalent in Spain, while in France there is no definite zone of Eocene like that of Aragon. The zone of the Petites Pyrenees, however, is clearly homologous with that of the Sierras. On the northern side granitic masses occur in the zone of Ariege amongst the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous beds. On the southern side they are not found except in the axial zone, and the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous deposits are reduced to a narrow band. In spite of these differences between the two flanks, the structure is to some extent symmetrical. On the north the greater number of the overfolds lean towards the north, while on the south they lean towards the south. Thus the chain shows the typical fan-structure which has long been recognized in the western Alps. Since the publication of the maps by de Margerie and Schrader it has been shown that the phenomena of " recouvrement " play almost as large a part in the Pyrenees as iii the Alps themselves. Large masses of rock have been brought upon nearly horizontal faults (thrust-planes) over the edges 'of either beds with which they originally had no connexion. In the region of Salies-du-Salat, for example, patches of Trias lie discordantly upon the edges of the Cretaceous and Tertiary beds. Several other similar cases Alluvium Pliocene & Miocene Oligocene & Eocene Cretaceous Jurassic Silurian to Cambrian rrmssie Crystalline Rocks FF.. 1 Permian & Carboniferous =Igneous Rochs K:!: `] Devonian \\c have been described; but denudation has been carried further than in the western Alps, and accordingly the masses overlying the thrust-planes have been more completely removed (q.v.). The earth movements which raised the Pyrenees appear to have begun in the Eocene period, but it was in Oligocene times that the principal folding took place. The Pyrenees are therefore contemporaneous with the Alps; but they appear to have escaped the Miocene disturbances which affected the latter. The arrangement of the Pyrenees in chains gently inclined near the centre but longitudinal everywhere else, is illustrated by the courses of the streams which flow down towards Spain. On the French side most of the longitudinal valleys have disappeared; and this is why the range has so long been described as sending out transverse spurs, the more important slope remaining unknown. It is, however, still possible to distinguish some traces of this formation towards the east, where atmospheric denudation has been less active. On the south the principal streams, after cutting their way through the highest zone at right angles to the general direction of the range, become involved half-way to the plains in great longitudinal folds, from which they make their escape Only after traversing long distances without finding an outlet. The importance shown to attach to the Spanish versant has greatly modified the values formerly assigned to the area and mean elevation of the Pyrenees. Instead of the 13,440 sq. m. formerly put down for the total, M. Schrader found the area to be 21,044 sq. in. Of this total 6390 sq. m. fall to the northern slope and 14,654 sq. m., i.e. more than double, to the southern, the difference being mainly due to the zone of plateaux and sierras. The mean elevation, estimated by Elie de Beaumont at 1500 metres (4900 ft.), has been sensibly diminished by the addition of that zone to the system, and it must now be placed at only 1200 metres (3930 ft.) for the range as a whole; so important a part is played by the above-mentioned plateaux of small elevation in a chain whose highest summit reaches 11,168 ft., while the passes show a greater altitude than those of the Alps. Four conspicuous features of Pyrenean scenery are the absence of great lakes, such as fill the lateral valleys of the Alps; the rarity and great elevation of passes; the large number of the mountain torrents locally called gaves, which often form lofty waterfalls, surpassed in Europe only by those of Scandinavia; and the frequency with which the upper end of a valley assumes the form of a semicircle of precipitous cliffs, locally called a cirque. The highest waterfall is that of Gavarnie (1515 ft.), at the head of the Gave de Pau; the Cirque de Gavarnie, in the same valley, is perhaps the most famous example of the cirque formation. Not only is there a total lack of those passes, so common in the Alps, which lead across the great mountain chains at a far lower level than that of the neighbouring peaks, but between the two extremities of the range, where the principal highroads and the only railways run between France and Spain, there are only two passes practicable for carriages—the Col de la Perche, between the valley of the Tet and the valley of the Segre, and the Col de Somport or Pot de Canfranc, on the old Roman road from Saragossa to Oloron. Projects for further railway construction, including the building of tunnels on a vast scale, have been approved by the French and Spanish governments (see SPAIN: Communications). The metallic ores of the Pyrenees are not in general of much importance, though there are considerable iron mines at Vic de Sos in Ariege and at the foot of Canigou in Pyrenees-Orientales. Coal deposits capable of being profitably worked are situated chiefly on the Spanish slopes but the French side has numerous beds of lignite. Mineral springs are abundant and very remarkable, and specially noteworthy are the hot springs, in which the Alps, on the contrary, are very deficient. The hot springs, among which those of Bagneres de Luchon and Eaux-Chaudes may be mentioned, are sulphurous and mostly situated high, near the contact of the granite with the stratified rocks. The lower springs, such as those of Bagneres de Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrenees), Rennes (Aude) and Campagne (Aude), are mostly selenitic and not very warm. The amount of the precipitation, including rain and snow, is much greater in the western than in the eastern Pyrenees, which leads to a marked contrast between these sections of the chain in more than one respect. In the first place, the eastern Pyrenees are without glaciers, the quantity of snow falling there being insufficient to lead to their development. The glaciers are confined to the northern slopes of the central Pyrenees, and do not descend, like those of the Alps, far down in the valleys,but have their greatest length in the direction of the mountain-chain. They form, in fact, a narrow zone near the crest of the highest mountains. Here, as in the other great mountain ranges of central Europe, there are evidences of a much wider extension of the glaciers during the Ice age. The case of the glacier in the valley of Argeles in the department of Hautes-Pyrenees is the best-known instance. The snow-line varies in different parts of the Pyrenees from 8800 to 9200 ft. above sea-level. A still more marked effect of the preponderance of rainfall in the western half of the chain is seen in the aspect of the vegetation. The lower mountains in the extreme west are very well wooded, but the extent of forest declines eastwards, and the eastern Pyrenees are peculiarly wild and naked, all the more since it is in this part of the chain that granitic masses prevail. There is a change, moreover, in the composition of the flora in passing from west to east. In the west the flora, at least in the north, resembles that of central Europe, while in the east it is distinctly Mediterranean in character, though the difference of latitude is only about I°, on both sides of the chain from the centre whence the Cobieres stretch north-eastwards towards the central plateau of France. The Pyrenees are relatively as rich in endemic species as the Alps, and among the most remarkable instances of that endemism is the occurrence of the sole European species of Dioscorea (yam), the D. pyre naica, on a single high station in the central Pyrenees, and that of the monotypic genus Xatardia, only on a high alpine pass between the Val d'Eynes and Catalonia. The genus most abundantly represented in the range is that of the saxifrages, several species of which are here endemic. In their fauna also the Pyrenees present some striking in-stances of endemism. There is a distinct species of ibex (Capra pyrenaica) confined to the range, while the Pyrenean desman or water-mole (Mygale pyrenaica) is found only in some of the streams of the northern slopes of these mountains, the only other member of this genus being confined to the rivers of south-ern Russia. Among the other peculiarities of the Pyrenean fauna are blind insects in the caverns of Ariege, the principal genera of which are Anophthalmus and Adelops. The ethnology, folk-lore, institutions and history of the Pyrenean region form an interesting study: see ANDORRA; ARAGON; BASQUES; BEARN; CATALONIA; NAVARRE. See H. Beraldi, Cent ans aux Pyrenees (1901), Les Sierras, cent ans acres Ramond (1902), Apres cent ans. Les Pies d'Europe (1903), and Les Pyrenees orientales et l'Ariege (1904) ; P. Joanne, Pyrenees (1905) ; H. Belloc, The Pyrenees (1909) ; for geology, in addition to the papers cited above, A. Bresson, Etudes sur les formations des Hautes et Basses Pyrenees (Paris, Ministere des Travaux Publics, 1903) ; L. Carez, La Geologie des Pyrenees francaises (Paris, Min. des Tr. P., 1903, &c.); J. Roussel, Tableau stratigraphiquedesPyrenees (Paris, Min. des Tr. P., 1904); and for climate and flora T. Cook, Handbook to the Health Resorts on the Pyrenees, &c. (1905), and J. Bentham, Catalogue des plantes indigenes des Pyrenees et de Bas-Languedoc (1826). PYRENEES-ORIENTALES, a department of south-western France, bordering on the Mediterranean and the Spanish frontier, formed in 1790 of the old province of Roussillon and of small portions of Languedoc. The population, which includes many Spaniards, numbered 213,171 in 1906. Area, 1599 sq. m. The department is bounded N. by Ariege and Aude, E. by the Mediterranean, S. by Catalonia and \V. by the republic of Andorra. Its borders are marked by mountain peaks, on the north by the Corbieres, on the north-west and south-west by the eastern Pyrenees, on the extreme south-east by the Alberes, which end in the sea at Cape Cerbera. Spurs of these ranges project into the department, covering its whole surface, with the exception of the alluvial plain of Roussillon, which extends inland from the sea-coast. Deep and sheltered bays in the vicinity of Cape Cerbera are succeeded farther north by flat sandy beaches, along which lie lagoons separated from the sea by belts of sand. The lagoon of St Nazaire is 2780 acres in extent, and that of Leucate on the borders of Aude is 19,300 acres. Mont Canigou (9137 ft.), though surpassed in height by the Carlitte Peak (9583 ft.), is the most remarkable mountain in the eastern Pyrenees, since it stands out to almost its full height above the plain, and exhibits with great distinctness the succession of zones of vegetation. From the base to a height of 1400 ft. are found the orange, the aloe, the oleander, the pomegranate and the olive; the vine grows to the height of 1800 ft.; next come the chestnut (2625 ft.), the rhododendron (from 4330 to 8330 ft.), pine (6400), and birch (656o); while stunted junipers grow to the summit. The drainage of the department is shared by the Tet and the Tech, which rise in the Pyrenees, and the Agly, which rises in the Corhieres. All three flow eastwards into the Mediterranean. The Aude, the Ariege (an affluent of the Garonne) and the Segre (an affluent of the Ebro) also take their rise within the department and include a small part of it in their respective basins. The Tet rises at the foot of the Carlitte Peak and descends rapidly into a very narrow valley before it debouches at Ille (between Prades and Perpignan) upon the plain of Roussillon, where it flows over a wide pebbly bed and supplies numerous canals for irrigation. It is nowhere navigable, and its supply of water varies much with the seasons, all the more that it is not fed by any glacier. The Agly, which soon after its rise traverses the magnificent gorge of St Antoine de Galamus and, nearing its mouth, passes Rivesaltes (famous for its wines), serves almost exclusively for irrigation. The Tech, which after the Tet is the most important river of the department, flows through Vallespir (vallis aspera,) which, notwithstanding its name, is a green valley, clothed with wood and alive with industry; in its course the river passes Prats de Mollo and Arles-sur-Tech, before reaching Amelie-les-Bains and Ceret. In the lowlands the climate is that of the Mediterranean, characterized by mild winters, dry summers and short and sudden rain-storms. Amelie-les-Bains is much frequented on account of its mild climate and sheltered position. The thermometer ranges from 85° to 95° F. in summer, and in winter only occasionally falls as low as 26° or 27°. The mean amount of the rainfall is 27 in. on the coast, but increases towards the hills. The most common wind is the tramontane from N.N.W., as violent as the mistral of Provence and extremely parching. The marinade blows from the S.S.E. The cultivated land in Pyrenees-Orientales is devoted to wine-growing, market-gardening and fruit culture, the production of cereals being comparatively unimportant. The main source of wealth to the department is its wine, of which some kinds are strongly alcoholic and others are in request as liqueur wines (Rivesaltes, Banyuls). The cultivation of early vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, green peas), which is specially flourishing in the irrigated lowlands, and fruit-growing (peaches, apricots, plums, pears, quinces, pomegranates, almonds, apples, cherries, walnuts, chestnuts), which is chiefly carried on in the river valleys, yield abundant returns. The woods produce timber for the cabinet-maker, cork, and bark for tanning. Large flocks of sheep feed in the pastures of the Pyrenees and Corbieres; the keeping of silkworms and bees is also profitable. In iron Pyrenees-Orientales is one of the richest departments in France, the greater part of the ore being transported to the interior. Lignite and various kinds of stone are worked. The mineral waters are much resorted to. Amelie-les-Bains has hot springs, chalybeate or sulphurous. In the arrondissement of Ceret there are also the establishments of La-Preste-les-Bains, near Prats de Mollo, with hot sulphurous springs, and of Le Boulou, the Vichy of the Pyrenees. Near Prades are the hot sulphurous springs of Molitg, and a little north of Mont Canigou are the hot springs of Vernet, containing sodium and sulphur. In the valley of the Tet the sulphurous and alkaline springs of Thues reach a temperature of 172° F. The baths of Les Escaldas, near Montlouis, are hot, sulphurous and alkaline. There are oil-works and sawmills, and the manufactures of the department include the making of whip-handles, corks, cigarette paper, barrels, bricks, woollen and other cloths, and espadrilles (a kind of shoe made of coarse cloth with esparto soles). Of the ports of the department Port Vendres alone has any importance. Imports include timber, Spanish and Algerian wine, cereals, coal; among the exports are wine, timber, vegetables, fruit, honey, oil and manufactured articles. The department is served by the Southern railway. The chief route across the Pyrenees is from Perpignan by way of Montlouis, a fortified place, to Puigcerda, in the Spanish province of Gerona, through the pass of La Perche, skirting in the French department an enclave of Spanish territory. Three other roads run from Perpignan to Figueras through the passes of Perthus (defended by the fort of Belle-garde), Banyuls and Balistres, the last-named being traversed by a railway. The chief towns of the three arrondissements are Perpignan, Ceret and Prades: there are 17 cantons and232 communes. The department constitutes the diocese of Perpignan, and is attached to the appeal court and the academy of Montpellier and to the region of the XVI. army corps, of which Perpignan is the headquarters. Perpignan, the capital town and a fortress of the first class, Amelie-tes-Bains and Elne are the more noteworthy places, and are treated separately. Rivesaltes (5448) is the most populous town after Perpignan. Other places may be mentioned. Planes has a curious church, triangular in shape, and of uncertain date. Popular tradition ascribes to it a Moslem origin. The church and cloister at Arles-sur-Tech are also of the 12th century. Boule-d'Amont has a Romanesque church which once belonged to the Augustine abbey of Serrabona. It is peculiar in that its aisles open out into lateral porches, instead of communicating with t le nave. The church of Casteil, which is of the 1 ith century, is a relic of the ancient abbey of St Martin de Canigou. At St Michel-de-Guxa, near Prades, are fine ruins of a Benedictine abbey. The hamlet of Fontromeu, near Odeillo, has a chapel with a statue of the Virgin, which is visited by numerous pilgrims.
End of Article: Fr. Pyrenees] PYRENEES [Span. Pirineos
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