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The usefulness of geology to engineers is in direct proportion to how well it helps us predict the subsurface; these predictions, in turn, depend on our knowledge of the geomorphic processes that molded the terrain. The uncertainties of interpretation are particularly great in glaciated terrain because our understanding of both glacial processes and history is so incomplete, a fact well illustrated in Beacon Hill. Recent construction activities in the eastern part of the hill, until now classified as a drumlin, have shown that it is better interpreted as an end moraine formed by a Wisconsonian glacial readvance. Instead of the firm till that was anticipated as foundation material, excavations exposed a complex of sand, gravel, and clay, with only minor zones of till. The structure of these deposits strongly suggests that originally they were plates of the glacial bed that froze to the glacier and were transported englacially. Thrust faulting and other deformations are glacial structures formed within the ice in the glacier's terminal zone. In spite of the complex englacial history, these deposits lost little of their original appearance and intergranular relationships. Upon deglaciation, the frozen moraine thawed, and slumping formed complex secondary structures on the ridge's lower flanks.
Additional Publication Details
Beacon Hill end moraine, Boston: new explanation of an important urban feature