Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.
has replaced the protection formerly afforded by the thick trees which grew over the hole of entrance.  The effect of the second hole in the roof of this glaciere is to destroy all the ice which is within range of the sun.  A third and very necessary condition is, that the wind should not be allowed access to the cave; for if it were, it would infallibly bring in heated air, in spite of the specific weight of the cold air stored within.  It will be understood from my descriptions of such glacieres as that of the Grand Anu, of Monthezy, and the Lower Glaciere of the Pre de S. Livres, how completely sheltered from all winds the entrances to those caves are.  There can be no doubt, too, that the large surfaces which are available for evaporation have much to do with maintaining a somewhat lower temperature than the mean temperature of the place where the cave occurs.  This had been noticed so long ago as Kircher’s time; for among the answers which his questions received from the miners of Herrengrund, we find it stated that, so long as mines are dry, the deeper they are the hotter; but if they have water, they are less warm, however deep.  From the mines of Schemnitz he was informed that, so long as the free passage of air was not hindered, the mines remained temperate; in other cases they were very warm.  Another great advantage which some glacieres possess must be borne in mind, namely, the collection of snow at the bottom of the pit in which the entrance lies.  This snow absorbs, in the course of melting, all heat which strikes down by radiation or is driven down by accidental turns of the wind; and the snow-water thus forced into the cave will, at any rate, not seriously injure the ice.  It is worthy of notice that the two caves which possess the greatest depth of ice, so far as I have been able to fathom it, are precisely those which have the greatest deposit of snow; and the ice in a third cave, that of Monthezy, which has likewise a large amount of snow in the entrance-pit, presents the appearance of very considerable depth.  The Schafloch, it is true, which contains an immense bulk of ice, has no snow; but its elevation is great, as compared with that of some of the caves, and therefore the mean temperature of the rock in which it occurs is less unfavourable to the existence of ice.

I believe that the true explanation of the curious phenomena presented by these caves in general, is to be found in Deluc’s theory, fortified by such facts as those which I have now stated.  The mean temperature of the rock at Besancon, where the elevation above the sea is comparatively so small, renders the temptation to suggest some chemical cause very strong.

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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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