Glacial Erosion in France, Switzerland and Norway

  • William Morris Davis
Part of the The Geographical Readings series book series (GR)


Eighteen years ago I presented to this Society an essay on Glacial Erosion, in which my own observations were supplemented by a review of all that I could find written on the subject in the hope of reaching some safe conclusion regarding what was then (as it is still) a mooted question. Although recognizing effective erosion to depths of ‘a moderate number of feet’ where ice pressure was great and motion was rapid, in contrast to deposition where pressure and motion were reduced and where the amount of subglacial drift was excessive, I could not at that time find evidence to warrant the acceptance of great glacial erosion, such as was advocated by those who ascribed Alpine lakes and Norwegian fiords to this agency. In a retrospect from the present time, it seems as if one of the causes that led to my conservative position was the extreme exaggeration of some glacialists, who found in glacial erosion a destructive agency competent to accomplish any desired amount of denudation — an opinion from which I recoiled too far. Since the publication of my previous essay I had gradually come to accept a greater and greater amount of glacial erosion in the regions of active ice motion; but in spite of this slow change of opinion, the maximum measure of destructive work that, up to last year, seemed to me attributable to glaciers was moderate; and it was therefore with great surprise that I then came upon certain facts in the Alps and in Norway which demanded wholesale glacial erosion for their explanation.


Side Valley Main Valley Glaciate Valley Side Stream Piedmont Plain 
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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1972

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  • William Morris Davis

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