Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/386

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
368
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the large glacial Lake Algonquin, succeeding the larger Lake Warren, and by the eastward and northeastward surface atmospheric currents and courses of all storms, was not less mild than now. The trees whose wood is found in the interglacial Toronto beds now have their most northern limits in the same region.

Somewhat later came the full expansion of the glacial Lake Iroquois, in the basin of the present Lake Ontario and northward, outflowing at Rome, N. Y., to the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. Gradual re-elevation of the Rome outlet from the Champlain subsidence had lifted the surface of Lake Iroquois in its western part from near the level of the present lake at Toronto to a height there of about two hundred feet, finally holding this height during many years, with the formation of the well-developed Iroquois beach.

The final stage in the departure of the ice sheet which we are able to determine from the history of the Laurentian lakes and St. Lawrence Valley, was when the glacial lake St. Lawrence, outflowing through the Champlain basin to the Hudson, stretched from a strait originally one hundred and fifty feet deep over the Thousand Islands, at the mouth of Lake Ontario, and from the vicinity of Pembroke, on the Ottawa River, easterly to Quebec or beyond. As soon as the ice barrier was melted through, the sea entered these depressed St. Lawrence, Champlain, and Ottawa valleys; and subsequent epeirogenic uplifting has raised them to their present slight altitude above the sea level.

Further stages of the glacier recession are doubtless recognizable by moraines and other evidences, the North American ice sheet becoming at last, as it probably also had been in its beginnings, divided into three parts—one upon Labrador, another northwest of Hudson Bay, as shown by Tyrrell's observations, and a third upon the northern part of British Columbia. From my studies of the glacial lake Agassiz, whose duration was probably only about one thousand years, the whole Champlain epoch of land depression, the departure of the ice sheet because of the warm climate so-restored, and most of the re-elevation of the unburdened lands, appear to have required only a few (perhaps four or five) thousand years, ending about five thousand years ago. These late divisions of the Glacial period were far shorter than its Kansan, Aftonian, and Iowan stages; and the ratio of the Glacial and Champlain epochs may have been approximately as ten to one. The term Champlain conveniently designates the short, final part of the Ice age, when the land depression caused rapid though wavering retreat of the ice border, with more vigorous glacial currents on account of the marginal melting and increased steepness of the ice front, favoring the accumulation of many retreatal moraines of knolly and bowldery drift.