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Nature volume 49, page 197 | Download Citation



NOTWITHSTANDING its rather pompous second title, this is an interesting and valuable book, which, however, is not a separate work, but the third part of the fifth volume of a geographical series (Abhandlungen) edited by Prof. A. Penck. Its subject may be briefly stated as follows:—In many limestone districts the surface of the rock is guttered by channels—sometimes small, sometimes large—varying from comparatively smooth to rough. Here each ends in a small pipe, which descends vertically into the rock; there they converge towards one of larger size. With this system of superficial drainage are associated hollows of various forms, “blind valleys,” and the like, and caves are likely to be common. A region which exhibits some or all of these phenomena is called, from the peculiar sculpture of the surface, a karst region. Such may be found in various parts of the world. It is represented in England by the fur rowed limestones and “swallow-holes” of Derbyshire and Yorkshire; it occurs in many parts of the Alps, the phenomena becoming more frequent eastward, till their headquarters are reached in the Julian Alps and the great “Karst plateau,” north of the Gulf of Fiume. As they occur in many lands, so they bear many names. A full, exhaustive, and elaborate account of these inter esting phenomena will be found in this memoir, perhaps with an affected attempt at precision in distinction and classification (for after all, though curious, they are simple in origin), together with abundant references to the literature of the subject. Its usefulness, however, would be greatly increased by an index or by a very full table of contents; and though it is paged continuously with the volume, the latter, at least, ought to have been given.

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