Henry Hoyle Howorth, The Glacial Nightmare and the Flood, ISBN 9781154091298, General Books of Memphis Tennesee (2012). This is a 19th century book that has been scanned and has the odd spelling error which is no problem. It was scanned using character recognition software – which is not perfect. We have found this out at SIS when scanning past issues for our archive.
The value of this book is to show how geologists interpreted field evidence prior to the consensus theory of glaciation taking hold on all root and branch of the discipline. The author appears to have resisted the new consensus and this book is an attempt to make the case for water as opposed to ice being the cause of erratics, boulder clays, and so forth. It should be noted that the new consensus was able to wash away completely the notion of a great flood being responsible for various geological deposits, thereby providing us all with a service in that it cleared the air so to speak. Unfortunately, the glacial theory then adopted the same suffocating blanket like explanation as the Flood once provided, and has proved to be just as obstructive to genuine research – and publication of field evidence (and opposing opinions). It is a lesson in human nature and is proof that scientists are no different than other mere mortals. The idea they have clear and uncluttered minds with the sole aim of furthering human knowledge is a complete fallacy.
Whilst glaciation is self evident in some respects, such as moraines and eskers etc, it is clear that not all of the evidence can apply to ice. In recent years it has been found that glaciers can grow much more rapidly than geological theory currently allows. Field evidence from various mountains, such as the Andes and the Alps, seems to show glacier snouts advancing so quickly they swept up material from a warmer world within the span of just a few years. We can't expect glacial theory to change because of that as it is heavily entrenched, especially in the teaching curriculums. If glaciation can advance more quickly than gradualism allows and then it is just as likely that the rejection of water as a major agent also requires a rethink. Nowadays, of course, geologists do on occasion employ the power of water to account for features in the landscape, but it is muted and mentioned in a half hearted fashion. The thinking is that if glaciers, and ice sheets, melt quickly enough they will cause water to flow. Of course, in geological time quickly is really rather slowly so we are not talking about cascading walls of water carving out river channels, or whatever, but a more laborious process. In a Catastrophist interpretation ice melted quickly on a number of occasions and water became a major problem (on a number of occasions) and therefore it is possible that some of the so called glacial erratics are really water driven stones, gravels, and boulders – all this without moving on to the possibility of tsunami waves from the ocean having the capacity to shift material. The glacial theory is a one explanation fits all solution that in due course of time will become diluted in order to accommodate geological anomalies. The value of this book is that some of those anomalies were catalogued – as long ago as the 19th century. The fact they have been ignored for 150 years tells us a lot about the state of science and the people that control it from the stance of theory rather than field evidence. The people making fortunes out of CAGW have known this all along and have simply manipulated the stuffed shirts at the top.
The blue stones at Stonehenge have an origin in the Presceli mountains in Wales. The big debate in archaeology has been whether these stones are erratics or were quarried and brought to Salisbury Plain by human effort and guile. The erratics explanation has never been popular (as it spoils a good story). It is also recognised that the ice sheet would have taken erratics southwards rather than eastwards as the modelled glaciers of the last Ice Age would have filled the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel. Hence, one theory is that erratics were left lying around the countryside in west Somerset – but unfortunately no such evidence exists for blue stones in that region. This has meant that the human transport theory has taken hold of the archaeologists and geological theories have taken a back seat. However, if water borne erratics are put into the pot and given a stir it is not impossible that the blue stones arrived by natural means rather than by human ingenuity. This might upset a few theories in the process of course, and would prove to be unpopular in many quarters.
Finally, the author is far from convinced the Milankovitch orbital changes had the ability to usher in Ice Ages – which is always worth browsing. He also outlines some of the work of geologists who went so far as to find evidence of glacial erratics in the tropics – in Brazil, Nicaragua, and so forth. Brazil, it seems, has its own Drift Formation (assumed to be detritus from glaciation where it occurs in Britain) and it appears to be fairly substantial. In addition, formidable deposits of boulder clay occur in regions where the Ice Ages are not supposed to have reached – and we all know about the Allen and Delair explanation of loess deposits. It all seems to mean that geological theory requires some revision to basic premise and assumption and water played a fairly dramatic role in altering the landscape. In fact, it still does, a flash flood can bring substantial amounts of sand and gravel from high ground to valley in a very short space of time, even in dry locations such as the Chilterns. All it takes is heavy rainfall – and this a a common occurrence. If you go to North Devon, at Lynton and Lynmouth, you will see the power of water (and rain) in the river bed where huge blocks of stone were moved from hill top to sea shore in a flash flood in 1953. They even have a museum there with displays of the power of the storm, sweeping everything before it. In a Catastrophist scenario such storms would potentially have been far worse and much more dramatic, capable of re-moulding the landscape. It doesn't require a global flood or an ice sheet. It just happens.