Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/179

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125
SEAS

With this fact noted, let us return to the water formed by the melting of the ice-cap, at the time it is produced around the south pole. We may be sure it would not stay there long. No sooner liberated from its winter fetters than it would begin, under the pull of gravity, to run toward the equator. The reason why it would flow away from the pole is that it would find itself in unstable equilibrium where it was. Successive depositions of frost would have piled up a mound of ice which, so long as it remained solid, cohesion would keep in that unnatural position; but the moment it changed to a liquid this would flow out on all sides, seeking its level. Once started, its own withdrawal would cause the centre of gravity to shift away from the pole, and this would pull the particles of the water yet more toward the equator. Each particle would start due north; but its course would not continue in that direction, for at each mile it traveled it would find itself in a lower latitude, where, owing to the rotation of the planet, the surface would be whirling faster toward the east, inasmuch as a point on the equator has to get over much more space in twenty-four hours than one nearer the pole. In short, supposing there were no friction, the surface would be constantly slipping away from under the particle toward the east. As a result, the northerly motion of the particle would be con-