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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/170

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

trilobites entombed in the Cambrian slates. Now, just this latest and present division of the geologic record, following the Ice age, is the only one for which geologists find sufficient data to permit direct measurements or estimates of its duration. "The glacial invasion from which New England and other northern countries have lately escaped," remarks Davis, "was prehistoric, and yet it should not be regarded as ancient."

In various localities we are able to measure the present rate of erosion of gorges below waterfalls, and the length of the postglacial gorge divided by the rate of recession of the falls gives approximately the time since the Ice age. Such measurements of the gorge and Falls of St. Anthony by Prof. N. H. Winchell show the length of the postglacial or recent period to have been about eight thousand years; and from the surveys of Niagara Falls Mr. G. K. Gilbert believes it to have been seven thousand years, more or less. From the rates of wave-cutting along the sides of Lake Michigan and the consequent accumulation of sand around the south end of the lake, Dr. E. Andrews estimates that the land there became uncovered from its ice-sheet not more than seventy-five hundred years ago. Prof. G. Frederick Wright obtains a similar result from the rate of filling of kettle-holes among the gravel knolls and ridges called kames and eskers, and likewise from the erosion of valleys by streams tributary to Lake Erie; and Prof. Benjamin K. Emerson, from the rate of deposition of modified drift in the Connecticut Valley at Northampton, Mass., thinks that the time since the Glacial period can not exceed ten thousand years. An equally small estimate is also indicated by the studies of Gilbert and Russell for the time since the last great rise of the Quaternary lakes Bonneville and Lahontan, lying in Utah and Nevada, within the arid Great Basin of interior drainage, which are believed to have been contemporaneous with the great extension of ice-sheets upon the northern part of our continent.

Prof. James Geikie maintains that the use of pal├Žolithic implements had ceased, and that early man in Europe made neolithic (polished) implements, before the recession of the ice-sheet from Scotland, Denmark, and the Scandinavian peninsula; and Prestwich suggests that the dawn of civilization in Egypt, China, and India may have been coeval with the glaciation of northwestern Europe. In Wales and Yorkshire the amount of denudation of limestone rocks on which bowlders lie has been regarded by Mr. D. Mackintosh as proof that a period of not more than six thousand years has elapsed since the bowlders were left in their positions. The vertical extent of this denudation, averaging about six inches, is nearly the same with that observed in the southwest part of the province of Quebec by Sir William Logan and Dr.