Would rather not serve on Royal Society committee [for a North American exploring expedition]. Suggests subjects for geological investigation.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
By some accident I received your note only this morning, for which I am much obliged;
as it w
As the extension in Lat. & Long. & all the phenomena of Glacial action & erratic boulders will, no doubt, be one chief object of attention to the geologist of the Expedition, I may make one suggestion, viz to attend most carefully to the state of the rocks in those rivers, in which annually large quantities of ice are carried down with great force. Sir John Richardson many years ago, told me that they were beautifully polished.— Are they scored also? & is the scoring on the upper side. &c &c.— are stones & mud embedded in river ice? It is a great desideratum in geology to be able to distinguish between rocks polished & scored by glaciers, & by floating ice.—
I suppose the expedition will not visit any arctic shore; but it may fall across some
ancient line of cliff, with beds of shingle at its base, formed during the Glacial
epoch, & I think a most minute examination of the character of the shingle on
arctic shores would be very desirable, for comparison with the sub-angular drift of the
southern counties of England. The tertiary strata with fossil plants & lignite
would be a very interesting point for examination; but is quite obvious.— If I
Pray believe me, my dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin
- f1 2241.f1Edward Sabine was chairman of the Royal Society North American exploring expedition committee (Royal Society committee minute book 42).
- f2 2241.f2The minutes of the expedition committee of 16 March 1857 record that Sabine had written to CD (Royal Society committee minute book 42).
- f3 2241.f3See letter to William Sharpey, 24 January . Both Roderick Impey Murchison and Joseph Dalton Hooker were members of the committee.
- f4 2241.f4CD had consulted John Richardson, author of Fauna Boreali-Americana (J. Richardson 1829–37), in 1838 when he was writing the addenda to Journal of researches in order to explain the distribution of erratic boulders by iceberg transport (pp. 619–20).
- f5 2241.f5CD had long wished to differentiate the action of glaciers from that of floating ice and was especially concerned to demonstrate the role of icebergs in the distribution of erratic blocks (see ‘On the distribution of the erratic boulders … of South America’, Collected papers 1: 145–163, and ‘Notes on the effects produced by the ancient glaciers of Caernarvonshire’, Collected papers 1: 163–171).