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- The Antiquity of Man - 50/91 -


so freshened and chilled by the melting of ice-bergs in some Norwegian and Icelandic fjords, that the fish are driven away, and all the mollusca killed. The moraines of glaciers are always from the first devoid of shells, and if transported by ice-bergs to a distance, and deposited where the ice melts, may continue as barren of every indication of life as they were when they originated.

Nevertheless, it may be said, on the other hand, that herds of seals and walruses crowd the floating ice of Spitzbergen in latitude 80 degrees north, of which Mr. Lamont has recently given us a lively picture,* (* "Seasons with the Sea-Horses" 1861.) and huge whales fatten on myriads of pteropods in polar regions. It had been suggested that the bottom of the sea, at the era of extreme submergence in Scotland and Wales, was so deep as to reach the zero of animal life, which, in part of the Mediterranean (the Aegean, for example), the late Edward Forbes fixed, after a long series of dredgings, at 300 fathoms. But the shells of the glacial drift of Scotland and Wales, when they do occur, are not always those of deep seas; and, moreover, our faith in the uninhabitable state of the ocean at great depths has been rudely shaken, by the recent discovery of Captain McClintock and Dr. Wallich, of starfish in water more than a thousand fathoms deep (7560 feet!), midway between Greenland and Iceland. That these radiata were really dredged up from the bottom, and that they had been living and feeding there, appeared from the fact that their stomachs were full of Globigerina, of which foraminiferous creatures, both living and dead, the oozy bed of the ocean at that vast depth was found to be exclusively composed. [Note 28.]

Whatever may be the cause, the fact is certain, that over large areas in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, I might add throughout the northern hemisphere on both sides of the Atlantic, the stratified drift of the glacial period is very commonly devoid of fossils, in spite of the occurrence here and there, at the height of 500, 700, and even 1400 feet, of marine shells. These, when met with, belong, with few exceptions, to known living species. I am therefore unable to agree with Mr. Kjerulf that the amount of former submergence can be measured by the extreme height at which shells happen to have been found.

GLACIAL FORMATIONS IN ENGLAND.

(FIGURE 38. DOME-SHAPED ROCKS, OR "ROCHES MOUTONEES," IN THE VALLEY OF THE ROTHAY, NEAR AMBLESIDE, FROM A DRAWING BY E. HULL, F.G.S.* (* "Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal" volume 11 Plate 1 page 31 1860.))

The mountains of Cumberland and Westmorland, and the English lake district, afford equally unequivocal vestiges of ice-action not only in the form of polished and grooved surfaces, but also of those rounded bosses before mentioned as being so abundant in the Alpine valleys of Switzerland, where glaciers exist, or have existed. Mr. Hall has lately published a faithful account of these phenomena, and has given a representation of some of the English "roches moutonnees," which precisely resemble hundreds of dome-shaped protuberances in North Wales, Sweden, and North America.* (* Hull, "Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal" July 1860. )

The marks of glaciation on the rocks, and the transportation of erratics from Cumberland to the eastward, have been traced by Professor Phillips over a large part of Yorkshire, extending to a height of 1500 feet above the sea; and similar northern drift has been observed in Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire. It is rare to find marine shells, except at heights of 200 or 300 feet; but a few instances of their occurrence have been noticed, especially of Turritella communis (a gregarious shell), far in the interior, at elevations of 500 feet, and even of 700 in Derbyshire, and some adjacent counties, as I learn from Mr. Binney and Mr. Prestwich.

Such instances are of no small theoretical interest, as enabling us to account for the scattering of large erratic blocks at equal or much greater elevations, over a large part of the northern and midland counties, such as could only have been conveyed to their present sites by floating ice. Of this nature, among others, is a remarkable angular block of syenitic greenstone, 4 1/2 feet by 4 feet square, and 2 feet thick, which Mr. Darwin describes as lying on the summit of Ashley Heath, in Staffordshire, 803 feet above the sea, resting on New Red Sandstone.* (* Ancient Glaciers of Caernarvonshire, "Philosophical Magazine" series 3, 21 page 180.)

SIGNS OF ICE-ACTION AND SUBMERGENCE IN IRELAND DURING THE GLACIAL PERIOD.

In Ireland we encounter the same difficulty as in Scotland in determining how much of the glaciation of the higher mountains should be referred to land glaciers, and how much to floating ice, during submergence. The signs of glacial action have been traced by Professor Jukes to elevations of 2500 feet in the Killarney district, and to great heights in other mountainous regions; but marine shells have rarely been met with higher than 600 feet above the sea, and that chiefly in gravel, clay, and sand in Wicklow and Wexford. They are so rare in the drift east of the Wicklow mountains, that an exception to the rule, lately observed at Ballymore Eustace, by Professor Jukes, is considered as a fact of no small geological interest. The wide extent of drift of the same character, spread over large areas in Ireland, shows that the whole island was, in some part of the glacial period, an archipelago, as represented in the maps, Figures 39 and 40.

Speaking of the Wexford drift, the late Professor E. Forbes states that Sir H. James found in it, together with many of the usual glacial shells, several species which are characteristic of the Crag; among others the reversed variety of Fusus antiquus, called F. contrarius, and the extinct species Nucula Cobboldiae, and Turritella incrassata. Perhaps a portion of this drift of the south of Ireland may belong to the close of the Pliocene period, and may be of a somewhat older date than the shells of the Clyde, alluded to in Chapter 13. They may also correspond still more nearly in age with the fauna of the uppermost strata of the Norwich Crag, occurring at Chillesford. [Note 29.]

The scarcity of mammalian remains in the Irish drift favours the theory of its marine origin. In the superficial deposits of the whole island, I have only met with three recorded examples of the mammoth, one in the south near Dungarvan, where the bones of Elephas primigenius, two species of bear (Ursus arctos and Ursus spelaeus ?), the reindeer, horse, etc., were found in a cave;* (* E. Brenan and Dr. Carte, Dublin 1859.) another in the centre of the island near Belturbet, in the county of Cavan.

Perhaps the conversion into land of the bed of the glacial sea, and the immigration into the newly upheaved region of the elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, which co-existed with the fabricators of the St. Acheul flint hatchets, were events which preceded in time the elevation of the Irish drift, and the union of that island with England. Ireland may have continued for a longer time in the state of an archipelago, and was therefore for a much shorter time inhabited by the large extinct Pleistocene pachyderms.

In one of the reports of the Geological Survey of Ireland, published in 1859, Professor Jukes, in explanation of sheet 184 of the maps, alludes to beds of sand and gravel, and signs of the polishing and furrowing of the rocks in the counties of Kerry and Killarney, as high as 2500 feet above the sea, and supposes (perhaps with good reason) that the land was depressed even to that extent. He observes that above that elevation (2500 feet) the rocks are rough, and not smoothed, as if by ice. Some of the drift was traced as high as 1500 feet, the highest hills there exceeding 3400 feet. Mr. Jukes, however, is by no means inclined to insist on submergence to the extent of 2500 feet, as he is aware that ice, like that now prevailing in Greenland, might explain most, if not all, the appearances of glaciation in the highest regions.

Although the course taken by the Irish erratics in general is such that their transportation seems to have been due to floating ice or coast-ice, yet some granite blocks have travelled from south to north, as recorded by Sir R. Griffiths, namely, those of the Ox Mountains in Sligo; a fact from which Mr. Jamieson infers that those mountains formed at one time a centre of dispersion. In the same part of Ireland, the general direction in which the boulders have travelled is everywhere from north-west to south-east, a course directly at right angles to the prevailing trend of the present mountain ridges.

MAPS ILLUSTRATING SUCCESSIVE REVOLUTIONS IN PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY DURING THE PLEISTOCENE PERIOD.

(FIGURE 39. MAP OF THE BRITISH ISLES AND PART OF THE NORTH-WEST OF EUROPE, SHOWING THE GREAT AMOUNT OF SUPPOSED SUBMERGENCE OF LAND BENEATH THE SEA DURING PART OF THE GLACIAL PERIOD.

The submergence of Scotland is to the extent of 2000 feet, and of other parts of the British Isles, 1300. In the map, the dark shade expresses the land which alone remained above water. The area shaded by diagonal lines is that which cannot be shown to have been under water at the period of floating ice by the evidence of erratics, or by marine shells of northern species. How far the several parts of the submerged area were simultaneously or successively laid under water, in the course of the glacial period, cannot, in the present state of our knowledge, be determined.)

(FIGURE 40. MAP SHOWING WHAT PARTS OF THE BRITISH ISLANDS WOULD REMAIN ABOVE WATER AFTER A SUBSIDENCE OF THE AREA TO THE EXTENT OF 600 FEET.

The authorities to whom I am indebted for the information contained in this map are--for:

SCOTLAND: A. Geikie, Esquire, F.G.S., and T.F. Jamieson, Esquire, of Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

ENGLAND: For the counties of: Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Durham: Colonel Sir Henry James, R.E. Dorsetshire, Hampshire, and Isle of Wight: H.W. Bristow, Esquire. Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, and part of Devon: R. Etheridge, Esquire. Kent and Sussex: Frederick Drew, Esquire. Isle of Man: W. Whitaker, Esquire.

IRELAND: Reduced from a contour map constructed by Lieutenant Larcom, R.E., in 1837, for the Railway Commissioners.)

(FIGURE 41. MAP OF PART OF THE NORTH-WEST OF EUROPE, INCLUDING THE BRITISH ISLES, SHOWING THE EXTENT OF SEA WHICH WOULD BECOME


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