National Geographic : 1896 Jun
194 THE SEINE, THE MEUSE, AND THE MOSELLE meanders still occupied by the river farther down the trench. The radius of curvature is essentially the same in the several cases. The slopes on the outsides of the troughs have the char acteristic, bluff-like descent from the upland. The isolated hills are the ends of interlocking spurs, now dissevered from the up lands by the cross-cut of the river; the ends of these hills that project into the horseshoe troughs have the comparatively gentle descent of the spurs that are elsewhere found projecting into the actual meanders. Not only so; the eastern branch of the south ern horseshoe is just opposite and in line with the western branch of the northern horseshoe. There can be no doubt that the vigor ous Moselle has here so earnestly swung against its outer bank that it has actually shortened its own course by cutting through the narrow necks of the intervening spurs. Perhaps I am giving too much emphasis to this occurrence. It is not a great rarity, for similarly abandoned river meanders are not infrequent in other plateaus. They are known in the plateau of Wiirtemberg, where it is trenched by the Neckar at Lauffen and just above, and in the plateau of western Pennsylvania, trenched by the Ohio and its branches. It is not, however, the mere occurrence of these cut-off meanders, but rather the lesson that they teach, that deserves emphasis. They all indicate strong river action. The Moselle must therefore be regarded as an able-bodied, vigorous river, like the Seine. The staggering Meuse.-Let us now look at the Meuse. From some distance above Commercy, down stream as far as Verdun and beyond, this river, like the others, follows a well-defined meandering valley, incised beneath uplands on either side. As before, the slope of the bluffs on the outer side of the valley curves is comparatively steep, while the slope of the spurs on the inner side of the curves is relatively gentle. Just above Com mercy, near Sarcy-sur-Meuse, one of the spurs is almost cut through and is now connected with its upland by a very narrow and low neck, which alone separates the flood-plain of the curv ing valley on either side. The railway and canal both save dis tance by cutting across the low neck. At Dun-sur-Meuse the neck of a former spur is entirely cut through. It now stands as an isolated hill surrounded on all sides by the flat valley floor.* *The itat-major map, 1: 80,000, suggests three other abandoned meanders: one east of Liny-devant-Dun; another northeast of Letanne; the third southwest of Mouzon. The cutting of some of these meanders may have occurred early in the history of the valley. At Koeur-la-petite, below Commercy, the map shows the railway and canal run ning through a depression in the neck of a spur that extends toward Han-sur-Meuse, and I suppose that the Ste. Austreberte case is here paralleled.