Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/700

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exactly like an ancient fortification. The characteristic features of moraines are their position in valleys where there are other indications of glacial action, their steep slopes and often level tops, but especially their composition of earth, stones, and gravel, with large fragments of rock irregularly scattered through them from top to bottom without any sign of stratification, while usually one or more large blocks rest upon their summits in positions where they could only have been left by the retreat of the glacier, or possibly stranded from floating ice. Where extensive glaciers have covered large areas of nearly level ground, the moraines form great sheets extending for many miles, often concealing the original contours of the country, and then receive the general name of drift. The composition of drift is usually the same as that of well-marked moraines, large blocks of stone being distributed throughout its mass. It is this which mainly distinguishes drift from alluvial or shore deposits, in which the materials are always more or less assorted and stratified; but the angular forms of many of the contained blocks and the striated surfaces of others are also characteristic. Besides the terminal moraines of extinct glaciers, lateral moraines are also left along the slopes of open valleys from which glaciers have retreated. As a whole, moraines are well distinguished from all accumulations formed by water, and it has not been shown that any other agency than glaciers is capable of forming them. In all recently glaciated countries they are to be found more or less frequently, and thus afford an excellent first indication of the former existence of glaciers.

2. Smoothed and rounded rocks, called in Switzerland "roches moutonnées," from their supposed resemblance at a distance to sheep lying down, are perhaps the most general of all the indications of glacial action. Every glacier carries with it, imbedded in its under surface, numbers of rocks and stones, which, during the slow but unceasing motion over its bed, crush and grind down all rocky projections, producing in the end gently rounded or almost flat surfaces even on the hardest and toughest rocks. In many of the valleys of Wales, the Lake District, and Scotland every exposed rock has acquired this characteristic outline, and the same feature can be traced on all the rocky slopes, and often on the summits of the lesser heights; and the explanation how these forms have been produced is not a theory only, but has been observed in actual operation in the accessible portions of many glaciers. Rocks and stones are to be seen imbedded in the ice and actually scratching, grooving, and grinding the rock beneath in their slow but irresistible onward motion. The rocky islets in Windermere, Ullswater, and other lakes, as well as the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence, are thus ice-ground; and the amount