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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/80

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing eastward from the base of the Rocky Mountains, the surface, at first more than four thousand feet above the sea-level, descends by successive steps to twenty-five hundred feet, and is based on cretaceous and Laramie rocks, covered by bowlder clay and sand, in some places from one hundred to two hundred feet in depth, and filling up pre-existing hollows, though itself sometimes piled into ridges. Near the Rocky Mountains the bottom of the drift consists of gravel not glaciated. This extends to about one hundred miles east of the mountains, and must have been swept by water out of their valleys. The bowlder clay resting on this deposit is largely made up of local debris in so far as its paste is concerned. It contains many glaciated bowlders and stones from the Laurentian region to the east, and also smaller pebbles from the Rocky Mountains; so that at the time of its formation there must have been driftage of large stones for seven hundred miles or more from the east, and of smaller stones from a less distance on the west. The former kind of material extends to the base of the mountains, and to a height of more than four thousand feet. One bowlder is mentioned as being forty-two by forty by twenty feet in dimensions. The highest Laurentian bowlders seen were at an elevation of forty-six hundred and sixty feet, on the base of the Rocky Mountains. The bowlder clay, when thick, can be seen to be rudely stratified, and at one place includes beds of laminated clay with compressed peat, similar to the forest-beds described by Worthen and Andrews in Illinois, and the so-called interglacial beds described by Hinde on Lake Ontario. The leaf-beds on the Ottawa River and the drift-trunks found in the bowlder clay of Manitoba belong to the same category, and indicate that throughout the glacial period there were many forest oases far to the north. In the valleys of the Rocky Mountains opening on these plains there are evidences of large local glaciers now extinct, and similar evidences exist on the Laurentian highlands on the east.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the region is that immense series of ridges of drift piled against an escarpment of Laramie and cretaceous rocks, at an elevation of about twenty-five hundred feet, and known as the "Missouri Coteau." It is in some places thirty miles broad and a hundred and eighty feet in height above the plain at its foot, and extends north and south for a great distance; being, in fact, the northern extension of those great ridges of drift which have been traced south of the Great Lakes, and through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and which figure on the geological maps as the edge of the continental glacier an explanation obviously inapplicable in those Western regions where they attain their greatest development. It is plain that in the North it marks the western limit of the deep water of a glacial sea, which at some periods extended much farther west, perhaps with a greater proportionate depression in going westward, and on which heavy ice from the Laurentian districts on the