Letter icon
Letter 3450

Ramsay, A. C. to Darwin, C. R.

17 Feb 1862

    Summary Add

  • +

    In his paper for Geological Society ["Glacial origin of certain lakes", Q. J. Geol. Soc. Lond. 18 (1862): 185–204] he will prove that all the lake-basins of the Alps were scooped out by glaciers.

Transcription

Jermyn St

17 Feby 1862

My dear Sir

I have a paper coming on at the Geol: Soc: on Wednesday the 26th. which I will tell you the subject of, as it will interest you, though I do not expect you will be able to attend. I am going to prove (I believe) that all the lake basins of the Alps have been scooped out by glacier ice. After two re-examinations of the country, with Lyell I have come to the conclusion that the old glaciers did extend as far as the Jura on the North, & quite into the Plains of Lombardy & Piedmont on the South. The vast moraines of Ivrea &c completely prove the latter.

Further both in America & Europe the number of lakes (true rock basins) increase in number just in proportion as the country has been glaciated, & therefore I apply my theory to glaciated regions in the widest sense, showing, I conceive, that nothing but a solid such as ice could scoope out deep true rock-basins.

Of course I also allow special areas of subsidence, but these are not what I deal with. North of the St Lawrence you would require them every few miles & of all sizes from a few yards in diameter, which is I think impossible.

Ever truly | Andw C Ramsay

    Footnotes Add

  • +
    f1 3450.f1
    Ramsay's paper, entitled `On the glacial origin of certain lakes in Switzerland, the Black Forest, Great Britain, Sweden, North America, and elsewhere', was read to the Geological Society of London on 5 March 1862 (Ramsay 1862).
  • +
    f2 3450.f2
    Both Charles Lyell and CD had formerly propounded the belief that the erratic boulders of the Jura were transported from the Alps in icebergs that floated across a vast submerged tract of Switzerland (see C. Lyell 1855, p. 151). After travelling in Switzerland to study glacial phenomena in the summer of 1857, Lyell decided that the erratics had been carried from the Alps to the Jura by glaciers extending across the intervening region (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 243--62). CD informed Ramsay of Lyell's new opinion in the letter to A. C. Ramsay, 24 June [1859] (Correspondence vol. 7). See also Davies 1969, pp. 291--2, 310--11.
Maximized view Print letter