- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
140

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
of its velocity. Thus a river, the velocity of which is
doubled in flood time, has a 64-times greater transport-
ing power. From this it will be easy to understand how
rivers in flood can excavate their beds so forcibly and
carry such quantities of gravel with them.
By this undermining and collapsing of the banks, a
steep slope is formed above the average highest level of
the water, which is sharply marked by a straight line
along the bank. Wherever no fall has recently tåken
place, this slope is overgrown with grass and moss, and
farther south with bushes and small trees.
Below the sharp high-water line the bank consists
chiefly of bare sand and gravel, and in some places
larger stones, and slopes evenly and smoothly down to
the water’s edge, beyond which there is generally a
shelving, sandy bank far out into the river. But, as
remarked before, there is a great difference between the
east and west banks in this respect. The east side is as
a rule markedly higher and steeper than the west. This,
as I have said, is an effect of the earth’s rotation, and
it is very striking everywhere in the district we are now
going through.
The high east bank in particular is also much scored
and excavated by rain-water and brooks and small rivers,
which have dug channels and little valleys. It is an
extremely instructive model on a small scale of the way
in which erosion takes place in the mountain systems
of the earth. Then, here and there, great landslides
had occurred, through undermining in the spring, and
everything was effaced.
Towards evening, as we were going on up the east side
of the river, a remarkable thing happened. We caught
sight of the first small trees projecting above the side
of a little valley farther in. They were small larches (lariæ
sibirica). There were not many of them. They were
140

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