Dec. 12, 2000
A. Bascom Hill's form is a result of glaciation.
According to UW-Madison geology professor David Mickelson, Bascom Hill is a drumlin, a hill formed by glacial deposits. About 18,000 years ago, a passing glacier shaped previously deposited sand and gravel into the campus centerpiece we see today.
"It was formed beneath the ice, probably when the glacier was at its maximum position a few miles west and south of Madison," Mickelson says.
Bascom Hill's shape is not the most common to drumlins in this area, Mickelson says.
Typically, the up glacier slope (the slope that faces the direction of the glacier's arrival) is steeper, but the up glacier slope on Bascom Hill (the eastern slope) is more gradual than the down glacier slope on the western side. According to Mickelson, this is a fairly common occurrence among the approximately 5,000 drumlins in southern Wisconsin and the resulting shape is simply a matter of chance as the glacier passes.
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