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range in the section under special consideration are capped with slates; so are several peaks of outlying spurs, as those of the Merced and Hoffmann, and all the base is slate - covered. The circumstances connected with their occurrence in these localities and absence in others, furnish proof little short of demonstration that they once covered all the range, and, from their known thickness in the places where they occur, we may approximate to the quantity removed where they are less abundant or wanting. Moreover, we have seen in Study No. III that the physical structure of granite is such that we may know whether or not its forms are broken. The opposite sides of valley walls exhibiting similar fragmentary sections often demonstrate that the valleys were formed by the removal of an amount of rock equal in depth to that of the valleys.
Fig. 10 is an ideal section across the range from base to summit. That slates covered the whole granitic region between B and D is shown by the fact that slates cap the summits of spurs in the denuded gap where they are sufficiently high, as at C. Also,
where the granite comes in contact with the slates, and for a considerable depth beneath the line of contact, it partakes, in a greater or less degree, of the physical structure of slates, enabling us to determine the fact that in many places slates have covered the granite where none are now visible for miles, and also furnishing data by which to approximate the depth at which these surfaces lie beneath the original summit of the granite. Phenomena relating to this portion of the argument abound in the upper basins of the tributary streams of the Tuolumne and Merced; for their presentation, however, in detail, we have no space in these brief outlines.
If, therefore, we would restore this section of the range to its unglaciated condition, we would have, first, to fill up all the valleys and cañons. Secondly, all the granite domes and peaks would have to be buried until the surface reached the level of the line of contact with the slates. Thirdly, in the yet grander restoration of the missing portions of both granite and slates up the line between the summit slates and those of the base, as indicated in Fig. 10 by the dotted line, the maximum thickness of the restored rocks in the middle region would not be less than a mile and a half, and average a mile. But, because the summit peaks are only sharp residual fragments, and the foothills rounded residual fragments, when all the intervening region is restored up to the dotted line in the figure, we still have only partially reconstructed the range, for the summits may have towered many thousands of feet above their present heights. And when we consider that residual glaciers are still engaged in lowering the summits which are already worn to mere blades and pinnacles, it will not seem improbable that the whole quantity of glacial denudation in the middle region of the western flank of the Sierra considerably exceeds a mile in average depth. So great was the amount of chipping required to bring out the present architecture of the Sierra.
Reprinted from the Overland Monthly of August, 1874. This is the fourth of a series of seven studies in which Mr. Muir developed his theories of the geology of the Sierra.-EDITOR.
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