National Geographic : 1890 May
88 National Geographic Magazine. Kittatinny Valley lowland or peneplain on the wide belt of hmestones beyond the Highlands; and furthermore for the development of a broad baselevelled plain on the weak Triassic shales and sandstones, where the old peneplain has been almost entirely destroyed. The Cretaceous cover remains only near the coast, where it stood too low to be attacked while the valleys and lowlands just described were carved out. An interesting pecu liarity in the relation between the newer baselevel plain on the Triassic area and the old Cretaceous peneplain is that their sur faces mutually intersect at a small angle along the line which now marks the visible contact between the Triassic and Creta ceous formations: the newer plain standing beneath the eroded portion of the older one northwest of this line, while it rises above the buried part of the older one and obliquely truncates its Cretaceous cover to the southeast of the line. Finally, the land as a whole has been raised a little since the making of the newer plain, and shallow valleys interrupt its broad surface. It is no longer a true plain; it has become a pastplain. A few words may be allowed me concerning these terms, peneplain and past plain. Given sufficient time for the action of denuding forces on a mass of land standing fixed with reference to a constant base level, and it must be worn down so low and so smooth, that it would fully deserve the name of plain. But it is very unusual for a mass of land to maintain a fixed position as long as is here assumed. Many instances might be quoted of regions which have stood still so long that their surface is almost reduced to its ultimate form; but the truly ultimate stage is seldom reached. We can select regions in which the valley lowlands have become broad and flat, the intermediate " doab " hills have wasted away lower and lower until they are reduced to forms of insignificant relief ; and yet the surface still does not deserve the name of plain as unqualifiedly as do those young lands newly born from seas or lakes in which their geometrically level surfaces were formed. I have therefore elsewhere suggested* that an old region, nearly baselevelled, should be called an almost-plain; that is, a peneplain. On the other hand, an old baselevelled region, either a pene plain or a truly ultimate plain, will, when thrown by elevation into a new cycle of development, depart by greater and greater degrees from its simple featureless form, as young narrow valleys * Amer. Jour. Sci., xxxvii, 1889, 430.