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ALTHOUGH much has been written, especially of late years, on the origin of surface-features, yet there is no English work to which readers not skilled in geology can turn for some general account of the whole subject. It is true that all geological text-books, and many manuals of geography, devote some space to its discussion, while not a few excellent treatises deal at large with one or more of its subdivisions. Geological literature is also by no means poor in admirable popular monographs descriptive of the geology and geography of particular regions, in which the origin of their surface-features is more or less fully explained. But for those who may be desirous of acquiring some broad knowledge of the results arrived at by geologists as to the development of land-forms generally, no introductory treatise is available. Possibly, therefore, the present attempt to supply a deficiency may not be wholly unacceptable.
In a work addressed more particularly to non-specialists, technical terminology should be employed as sparingly as possible, and I have consequently made scant use of those neologisms in which, unfortunately, the recent literature of the subject too much abounds. Technical words and expressions cannot, however, be entirely dispensed with, but those which my readers will encounter have, as a rule, been long current, and few are likely to be unfamiliar.
The materials used in the preparation of this book are for the most part from the common stock of geological knowledge, and it has not been thought necessary, therefore, to burden the pages with references. Those who would pursue the subject further must consult the larger text-books of geology in English, French, and German, which usually indicate the more notable sources of information. The following works will also be found very helpful as guides and instructors :—
Sir A. C. Ramsay's Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain.
Prof. A. H. Green's Physical Geology (chap. xiii.).
Sir A. Geikie's Scenery and Geology of Scotland.
Prof. E. Hull's Physical Geology and Geography of Ireland.
Sir J. Lubbock's Scenery of Switzerland and the Causes to which it is Due.
Dr. E. Fraas's Scencric der Alpcn.
Major J. W. Powell's Canyons of the Colorado.
MM. De la Noe and Emm. de Margerie, Les Formes du Terrain—an admirable and well illustrated work, descriptive of the geological origin of landforms.
Prof. A. Penck's Morphologic der Erdoberflache—a masterly review and classification of the surface-features of the earth, with a full discussion of their origin. This treatise is particularly rich in references to the literature; the whole history of geological opinion on the subject of which it treats may therefore be gathered from its pages.
Prof. A. de Lapparent's Lefons dc Geographic Physique—a most instructive and comprehensive outline of geo-morphology. The second half of the work deals more particularly with geographical evolution, the special treatment of which does not come within the limits of my essay. This interesting subject has of late years been studied with great assiduity, especially by Prof. W. M. Davis and others in North America.
The maps and sections, and the monographs, memoirs, and reports of our own and other national geological surveys are storehouses of information and instruction in physiographical geology. Some of these works that deal more especially with denudation and the relation of surface-features to geological structure have indeed become classical. Amongst these are Ramsay's notable paper, "On the Denudation of South Wales and the Adjacent Counties of England" (Memoirs Geological Survey of England, vol. i., 1846); Heim's Mechanismus dcr Gcbirgsbildung, etc. (which, although an independent work, was yet commenced under the auspices of the Swiss Geological Commission); Dutton's "Tertiary History of the Grand Carton District" (Monograph II. of U. S. Geological Survey).
For the use of several illustrations (Figs. 8, 25, 26, 75, 78) from Major Powell's Canyons of the Colorado, I am indebted to his publishers, Messrs. Flood & Vincent. I am under similar obligations to the Council of the Geological Society for a section (Fig. 34) borrowed from my brother's paper on the North-west Highlands; to Mr. Stanford for reproductions of illustrations (Figs, Tj, 83, 87, 88) from my Outl1nes of Geology; to Herr Tempsky, Vienna, for Figs. 41, 45, 56, from Kirchhoff's Landerkunde des Erdteils Europa; and to my friend, Mr. W. E. Carnegie Dickson, for the photographs reproduced on Plates I. and II.
Ed1nburgh, July 1, 1898.