Evolution of the theory of continental glaciation in northern and eastern Europe
The theory of continental glaciation was worked out independently in different countries, but the idea that glaciers had formerly expanded over much larger areas than today was born in Switzerland (Venetz-Sitten, von Charpentier, Agassiz et al.). From the region of ‘living glaciers’ in the Alps, scientists could make direct comparisons between areas now occupied by ice and those evidently abandoned by ice. Otto Torell in northern Europe and Piotr Kropotkin in Russia are most often named the ‘fathers’ of the glacial theory. But, in fact, Karl Eduard Eichwald (1795–1876) was the first in the Russian Baltic provinces to consider the possibility of the wide distribution of ice in lowland areas. The glacial theory was strongly supported by the academician Friedrich Schmidt (1832–1908), and features of several glaciations in northern and eastern Europe were first mentioned by Constantin Grewingk in 1879.