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The British Association: Section C—Geology

    Naturevolume 32pages555560 (1885) | Download Citation



    Some Results of a Detailed Survey of the Old Coast-Lines near Trondhjem, Norway, by Hugh Miller, F.G.S., H.M. Geological Survey.—During a short visit to Norway in October, 1884, it appeared to the author that the best way to help to a solution of the vexed questions connected with the coast-terracing of Norway was to execute a careful survey of a few square miles of some suitable coast-region upon a sufficiently large scale. The neighbourhood of Trondhjem is remarkably well suited to this purpose. The map employed was partly a municipal chart on the scale of 1-10,000, and partly an enlargement of the Ordnance map. The limit of all the terraces and marine deposits is the famous “strand line” west of the town, a double range of old coast-cliff cut in the rock of the mountain-side. Its upper line is 580 feet above the sea, and answers to the “marine limit” over Norway generally. Numbers of level terrace-lines have been incised—chiefly in greenish clays, like brick-clays—all along the arable slopes east of the town between this rock-terrace and the sea. Above the Bay of Leangen, two miles east of town and river, and far beyond all erosive influence of the latter, thirty of these lines were mapped one above another in the first 300 feet of ascent, a distance of one and a half mile. Many of these are small but extremely distinct, the earthy clays being well suited to retain sharp impressions of successive sea-margins, which these unequivocally are. The present coast-line, neatly etched out by the waves in Trondhjem and Leangen Bays, is the key to these tiers of older ones. It also resembles them in having made little or no impression where the coast becomes rocky, the lines of incision in both cases stopping short at once when they reach the harder material. The old coastlines are most numerous in well-sheltered positions. Thus a single pair of large terraces in an exposed situation east from Christiansten, where they face the open water of the fjord and the prevalent north-westerly storms, is represented in the recess above Leangen Bay by ten or twelve. The same fact is brought out on rising from this recess to the higher and more exposed ground. Thus, while thirty-three or thirty-four terraces are mapped below 350 feet (approximate) elevation, only nine or ten appear between that level and the rock-terraces of the upper marine limit, the numerical average height of the terraces thus rising by more than a half. In recesses of the coast further east, but beyond the map, these upper terraces seem to be preserved in considerably greater numbers. The number actually mapped was forty-three, or, with the two rock-terraces, forty-five. The largest number of terraces hitherto described at any one place in Norway seems to have been eighteen. Some of the general conclusions of the author are as follows:—(1) These terraces are all post-glacial, i.e. formed since the rock-glaciation of the district. This is confirmed by the condition of the high coast-cliff, which has been cut in ice-rounded rock, but is not itself glaciated. It appears, however, from the fauna of the raised shell-banks of the country (as worked out by Sars and Kjerulf), in which recent shells do not rise above 380 feet, that the seas of the upper levels were still glacial; and, though the Trondhjem fjord was free from land-ice, other deeper fjords and higher coasts may still have had glaciers coming into conflict with the sea, and producing the glaciated rock-terraces described by Sexe. All the evidence obtained discountenances Sexe's view that these rock-terraces were cut out by glaciers, as well as Carl Petersen's that they were rasped out by floating ice coasting the shores. On the clay terraces coast-ice has left no more sign of its presence than the winter freezing of our British rivers leaves upon our river-terraces. (2) If the country was upraised by a succession of elevatory jerks, as supposed by most geologists from Keilhan downwards, most of these would seem to have been small—much smaller, at least, than is supposed by Kjerulf. It is improbable that even Leangen Bay was secluded enough to contain a record of all the original coast-lines. The longer pauses and greater storms may have effaced an unknown number by a process of excision exemplified in all its stages by the map. It is hard to say, in fact, where the subdivision would end if all were preserved. The smaller terraces remind the eye of the incised lines and little planes engraved on the sandbanks bordering the rivers after a flood, in which case there is no periodicity in the subsidence of the waters. (3) The preservation or excision of the terraces thus seems to depend as much upon local circumstances—exposure to storms, resistance of coast-line &c.—as upon anything else. It is impossible at present to predicate which of them shall in any given place remain. Whether elevation by jerks, therefore, be postulated or not, all hope of correlating these terraces throughout the country must be deferred until their heights have been accurately determined by level. The measurements hitherto made, not even excepting those of Profs. Kjerulf and Mohn, are probably inadequate for the purpose. This observation seems to apply also to the terraces graven in rock. In their aneroid measurements of the upper strand-line at Trondhjem these observers differ by 55 feet. (5) On entering the mouth of the Trondhjem Valley the terraces come under an influence other than that of the sea-waves. The valley was worked out, in deposits partly levelled out by the sea, according to the laws of river-terracing under the accelerating influences of a falling sea-level. The processes of automatic river-terracing are beautifully exemplified within the district mapped in the deep lobe-shaped curve of the river just before it enters the sea. The terraces have been added one after another to the point of the lobe of land thus surrounded, which is known as Öen.

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