Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/699

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683
THE ICE AGE AND ITS WORK.

Jura, and there deposited the erratic blocks which had so puzzled the diluvialists to explain.

Other writers soon followed the clew thus given. In 1835 Charpentier, after a close study of the erratic blocks and of their sources, adopted the views of Venetz. Agassiz followed, and by his strenuous advocacy did much to spread correct views as to the former extension of the Alpine glaciers, and their capability of explaining the numerous superficial phenomena which in all northern countries had been thought to afford proofs of enormous floods and of the submergence of a large part of Europe under a deep sea. He has, therefore, gained the reputation of being the originator of the modern school of glacialists, which undoubtedly owes much to his energy, research, and powers of exposition, though all the more important facts, as well as the logical conclusions to be drawn from them, had been pointed out by previous writers.

Before proceeding further, it will be well to give a brief outline of the phenomena which lead to the conclusion that glaciers have formerly existed in districts and countries where even perpetual snow on the mountain tops is now unknown. These may be briefly classed as—1. Moraines and drifts. 2. Rounded, smoothed, or planed rocks. 3. Striæ, grooves, and furrows on rock surfaces. 4. Erratics and perched blocks.

1. Moraines are those heaps or ridges of rock and other débris which are deposited on the surface of a glacier from the precipices or mountain slopes which border it, and which form what are termed lateral and medial moraines while upon it, and terminal moraines when, being gradually discharged at its end, either from above or from beneath it, they form great heaps of rock and gravel corresponding in outline and extent to that of the terminal ice-cliff. Such moraines can be seen on and near all existing glaciers, and their mode of formation and characteristics are perfectly well known. If the glacier is continuously retreating, then the terminal moraine will form more or less irregular heaps over the surface the glacier has formerly covered; but when, as is usually the case, the glacier remains stationary for a considerable period, then the terminal moraine will have a definite form, . and will often stretch quite across the valley, but presenting one or more openings through which the glacier stream has cut its way. Such moraines form steep mounds, usually curved and often very regular, seeming from a little distance to block up the valley like an artificial earthwork. Among hundreds that might be enumerated, good examples may be seen in Glen Isla (Forfarshire), in the Troutbeck Valley near Windermere, and in Cwm Glas, on the north side of Snowdon, this latter being so regularly curved, evenly sloped, and level-topped as to look from below