The Catskills in the Ice Age - Purple Mountain Press


by Robert Titus

From Chapter 3--The Great Advance:

"Over the past two million years, several cycles of glaciation have swept across North America. The one which had the greatest effect upon the Catskills as we know them was the most recent one, the Wisconsin glaciation. That event ended only about 12,000 years ago, and it is the main focus of our story. . . . The direct cause of this glaciation was simple: The climate changed. The winters did not actually get that much colder, though they were very snowy; the summers changed the most-they became colder. Under these circumstances it snowed a lot in Canada. Year after year, abundant winter snowfall was followed by cool summers which did not melt all of the snow, so there was a net annual accumulation. . . . Deep snow as it piles up, compacts and hardens into the brittle material we know as ice. When the ice gets thick enough it becomes plastic and begins to move as a very sluggish liquid, especially if there is a slope. . . .

The only lobe (of the advancing ice sheet) of real importance in the Catskills was the Hudson-Champlain Lobe. It advanced down the Champlain lowland; as it approached the Catskills the flow split, much of it continuing south through the lower Hudson Valley, becoming the Mohawk Lobe. The rest of the ice made the assault upon the Helderberg Mountains and entered the Catskills."

To someone who knows how to read the landscape, the Catskills generate fabulous images of ice, glacial lakes, and fossil rivers roaring through the valleys-the Catskill Mountains as we know them today are the legacy of these massive forces. Virtually all Catskill Mountain villages are built where they are because glaciers made some of the land habitable; our best agricultural lands are the floors of glacial lakes; much of our recreational hiking and climbing leads to scenery carved by the passing ice. The glaciers that covered these mountains did not in themselves produce art, literature or environmental ethics, but here they created a setting that inspired all three. That is the story of The Catskills in the Ice Age.

Other books by Robert Titus published by Purple Mountain Press: The Other Side of Time and The Catskills: A Geological Guide

Meet the author, Dr. Robert Titus

123 pages, illustrated, 7 x 10, 2003
$15.00 paperback-a Purple Moutain Press original

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