National Geographic : 1896 Jun
190 THE SEINE, THE MEUSE, AND THE MOSELLE dwindling territory of a petty prince between the encroaching kingdoms of powerful rulers on either side. The evidence of this will appear when we examine the characteristics of the three rivers. The vigorous meanders of the Seine.-The Seine, after gathering in its upper branches both above and below Paris, pursues a strongly meandering course to the sea. Its lower valley is sunk with rather steep sides in a comparatively even upland, which itself is a surface of denudation. Although without complete proof on this point, I am led to suppose that this gently rolling upland is an uplifted peneplain-that is, a denuded region that was once reduced to a surface of moderate relief close to its con trolling baselevel, and then raised by some gentle process of elevation to its present altitude. During the development of the peneplain the Seine, the master river of the region, must have attained an extremely faint grade, and at the same time have taken on the habit of swinging from side to side in comparatively regular curves or meanders such as are characteristic of rivers with gentle slope. With the uplift of the region the meandering river would proceed to incise its channel beneath the uplifted surface, and thus Ramsay accounted for its peculiar intrenched meanders many years ago. They seem to be features of old age retained in youth of the present cycle of denudation as an in heritance from an advanced stage of a preceding cycle. In the second cycle of denudation, now in progress, the belt of country inclosed by lines tangent to the outer meander curves of the Seine seems to have broadened to greater width than it possessed before the uplift of the region occurred. The evidence of this is seen in the long sloping descent of each tongue of land which enters one of the river curves and from which the river seems to have receded, while the outer side of the swinging cur rent undercuts a bluff of steep descent from the upland, as if the river were pressing against it. If the meandering river had cut down its channel vertically the slopes on the two sides of its present course should be symmetrical.* The reason for the in creased breadth of the meander belt appears to be in the increased velocity given to the river in consequence of the uplift of the region. Many similar cases might be mentioned, but none show more clearly than the Seine the special features of an invigorated river. The great curves around which it swings fit in nearly all cases close to the bluff on their outer side. It is an able-bodied river, a river of a robust habit of life. * See note by A. Winslow in Science, 1893.