A study of glacial deposits was pioneered in Scotland from the middle of the 19th century. The boulder clay of Caithness attracted the attention of some of the great geologists of the time including Charles and Ben Peach, James Croll and James and Archibald Geikie. In north-east Scotland, Thomas F Jamieson was making many new observations on the glacial and glaciomarine deposits of Buchan. Jamieson (1860) may have been the first geologist to understand the importance of imbrication. He also soon developed an awareness that the stones in boulder clay, or till as it is now known, were often aligned in the direction of glacial flow. This allowed Jamieson and subsequently other geologists to deduce former ice flow patterns using the evidence from the sediments left by the glaciers. The shelly till of Caithness was investigated by Jamieson in the 1860s and this appears to be one of the first, if not the first recognition that till has a distinctive fabric.

a drawing of TFJ by David Smith

“The scratches on the boulder, as usual, run lengthways along the stones when they are of an elongated form; and the position of these stones, as they lie imbedded in the drift, is, as a rule, such that their longer axes point in the same direction as do the scratches on the solid rocks beneath, showing that the same agency that scored the rocks also ground and pushed along the drift”  

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