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The original sentence:

Since the sea covers the greater part of the earth's surface, it is quite reasonable to regard the sea floor as the basic form of the crust of the earth, with, superimposed upon it, the continents, together with the islands and other features of the oceans.

Does it make sense to understand it as an absolute construction starting with "with" as below?

Since the sea covers the greater part of the earth's surface, it is quite reasonable to regard the sea floor as the basic form of the crust of the earth, with the continents, together with the islands and other features of the oceans, superimposed upon it.

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  • Would the boldfaced part here be an absolute construction: the crust of the earth with the continents superimposed upon it? I would just call it a prepositional phrase -- one with a complex object, granted. – John Lawler May 16 at 3:20
  • No; An absolute is a non-finite clause that is subordinate in form, contains a subject, and has no syntactic link to the main clause, e.g. "[His voice trembling with fear], he called out for help". As JL says, your example is a PP headed by the prep "with". Note that the PP contains the further embedded PP "together with the islands and other features of the oceans" serving as a supplementary adjunct. – BillJ May 16 at 6:12

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