Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/120

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
116
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

polemics in opposition to the belief in former continental glaciation, which almost every one now considers definitely established, though after a hard fight.

It does not seem necessary at the present time to undertake to show how the glaciers did this, nor to prove that they could do it when the evidence is so clear that they actually did do it. Suffice it to say, that if glaciers smooth, scratch and pluck the rocks over which they pass, as every one knows they do (Fig. 13), it requires only a sufficiently long continuation of this action to lower valleys to any extent up to the time when they cease to further smooth, scratch and pluck. A century ago it seemed to many observers that at the slow observed rate of recession of Niagara Falls it was impossible to explain

 

PSM V70 D120 East view of nunatak fjord.jpg

Fig. 14 Looking Up (East) Nunatak Fiord. The rock knoll, or Nunatak, in the middle of the picture, 1,400 feet high, splits the Nunatak glacier one arm, on the left, descending to the sea through the broader valley, the other occupying a smaller U-shaped valley on the right side of the Nunatak. but not upon reaching the sea. When first seen by Prof. Russell in 1891 these two arms nearly enclosed the Nunatak. The site of the hanging (Fig. 7) valley is on the right side of the picture. Photograph by Lawrence Martin.

 

the seven miles of gorge as a result of this process. No one now doubts this explanation of the Niagara gorge; and it is not doubted that the Colorado Canyon has been formed by slow sawing into the strata, like that which the river is now engaged in, but continued through a long period of time. An application of the same principle—a slow rate of erosion working for a long period of time—is all that is necessary to understand profound glacial erosion, once it is granted that glaciers