Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/19

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9
THE GLACIERS OF GREENLAND.

We approached the front wall of the glacier with caution and almost in silence, fearing lest any percussion might too hastily precipitate some of the tottering masses which were "calving" their way to sea as bergs. Like the snowy avalanches of the Alps, which are at times called to life by the clapping of the hands, so must these ice masses of the north be left to their own peaceful slumbers. Once overturned, there can be no forecasting of the commotion that might follow. A turn or two may end the scene, or it can be that it has hardly begun before the water is churned into foam.

Cutting our steps into the dome-shaped lateral margin of the glacier, we soon gained the surface, upon which walking was fairly easy and comfortable. An effort to reach the opposite side was frustrated by the numerous crevasses which cut into the median portion of the ice, and about which we were obliged to wander in a tortuous, zigzag line. Generally, however, we managed to keep on a united body, or where the fissures were of but insignificant width. For some distance the surface of the ice kept disagreeably hummocky, but after passing a feeding glacier it

PSM V46 D019 Hanging glacier of herschel island.jpg

Hanging Glacier of Herschel's island.

spread out in an almost horizontal glistening sheet, admirably adapted for sledging purposes and of necessity for pedestrianism. The crevasses became less and less numerous, and ultimately ceased altogether, so that a traverse could be made in any direction. A narrow, remarkably straight, and evenly defined medial moraine, more in the nature of a dirt band, with angular blocks scattered over it — so like the "archaic" illustrations which figure in the works of Forbes and Agassiz and in other old-fashioned books of geology — occupied the central axis, stretching off upward to the limit of vision. As in all the other Greenland glaciers which it was our pleasure to explore, there were no really