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1. THERE is also a kind of powder which from natural causes produces astonishing results. It is found in the neighbourhood of Baiae and in the country belonging to the towns round about Mt. Vesuvius. This substance, when mixed with lime and rubble, not only lends strength to buildings of other kinds, but even when piers of it are constructed in the sea, they set hard under water. The reason for this seems to be that the soil on the slopes of the mountains in these neighbourhoods is hot and full of hot springs. This would not be so unless the mountains had beneath them huge fires of burning sulphur or alum or asphalt. So the fire and the heat of the flames, coming up hot from far within through the fissures, make the soil there light, and the tufa found there is spongy and free from moisture. Hence, when the three substances, all formed on a similar principle by the force of fire, are mixed together, the water suddenly taken in makes them cohere, and the moisture quickly hardens them so that they set into a mass which neither the waves nor the force of the water can dissolve.
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