Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/111

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101
THE ICE AGE.

away in trains of icebergs, over whose sides pour streams of water, to be lost in cavities, while torrents gush down their faces, sculpturing the ice with the facile mimicry of towers, minarets, and spires. Bowlders polished and channeled rocks, submarine moraines, abraded and excavated cliffs, are met with everywhere, and Kane counted forty-one ledges, old beaches marking the recession of the sea, which in their succession led from the granitic nucleus, formerly the coast-wall, to the present shore—all typical features of the landscape where glaciers and ice-caps are no longer found. The scenic effects in Greenland are wonderful in the extreme. Appalling cliffs rise in barren and frigid splendor from the broken floors of hummocks, and the peripheral ice-foot; their summits, corroded by frost, discharge bowlders and débris upon the ice beneath, while icebergs in towering and fantastic glory, crowd the shallowing bays, or press along the coast in weird processions, marshaled by the shriek of the cracking floes, the crush of their own dismantled pinnacles, or the thunder of distant avalanches.

Again, turning our eyes to warmer latitudes, let us direct our explorations to New Zealand, and learn the corroborative testimony it offers for this great theory. On the South Islands of New Zealand glaciers rest among the high recesses of its western mountains, upon Mount Cook, Mount Tasman, and neighboring summits, while a glacier from Mount Tyndall, at an elevation of 4,000 feet, gives birth to the river Clyde, where its abrupt termination rears an icy wall 1,300 feet long and 120 feet high. The Francis Joseph Glacier from Mount Tasman descends to within 705 feet of the sea-level, exhibiting the characteristics of all known glaciers. These massive streams are carving with remorseless energy the solid rocks, and transporting in their course the trophies of their labor. Yet, strong and magnificent as they now appear, they are but the ghosts of those former seas which swept from peak to wave, and piled upon the flanks of the mountains and the depressions of the coast the huge moraines and the transported bowlders which appear on every hand. These heaps of débris and congeries of rocky fragments lie in the direct extension of the present glaciers, and indicate most strikingly their origin. Lake-basins and narrow fiords created by the erosion of prehistoric ice are universal; and Lake Wakatipu, by the most indisputable proofs, has been thus dug out of the living rock—1,400 feet deep—itself but the shrunken outline of a previous sheet of water that reached into the rock-worn valley below it. Even now the glaciers of Mount Carnslaw, the brief remains of former arctic glories, now retreated beyond the thermal influences of the lowland, emit two rattling streams, turbid with the ground powder of the rocks, which, depositing their silt at the upper extremity of Lake Wakatipu, are obliterating in made land the testimony of past ravages.

Passing in one broad stride to the opposite, the eastern margins of the Pacific, we find amid the savage and inhospitable Cordilleras of Patagonia new glaciers, and around and beneath them memorials of a