Snow, glaciers, and the Elizabeth Islands

cape cod elizabeth islands

We here in Rhode Island had a mini-blizzard in the middle of February, which dumped two feet of snow. A lot of it melted right away. But some of it remained, in big chunks and drifts on the roadside.



It melts, bit by bit, and the streets and sidewalks get wider and wider, thank God.



Have you ever noticed what happens when mounded snow melts? It almost always leaves debris behind, like this:







Flashback to the last Ice Age: the glaciers pushed all kinds of debris (rocks, etc.) out to their limits, and then they receded.



What did they leave behind?



Why, Cape Cod and the Elizabeth Islands!






Cape Cod and the Elizabeths are the fringe of debris  – the “terminal moraine” – left behind by the last glaciers.



The last Ice Age left behind all kinds of debris in southern New England: the teardrop-shaped islands in Boston Harbor, the big chunks of stone dropped at random throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut and Rhode Island (“glacial erratics”, and (most especially) the line of debris that created the ridges of Cape Cod and the Elizabeth Islands.



Debris. What a terrible word. Let’s just call it “landscaping.”



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

3 Responses to Snow, glaciers, and the Elizabeth Islands

  1. starproms says:

    Interesting… the last ice age came down my country from the north to just about 4 miles north of where I live. I can go and walk in the carvings and see exactly where it ends. It ends in a spring, which sends water pure enough to drink. I collect some of this every Springtime because I consider it ‘holy’.

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