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Flow of the Danube into the Black Sea

For the Danube discharging itself into the Pontus by several mouths, we find opposite it a bank formed by the mud discharged from these mouths extending for nearly a thousand stades, at a distance of a day's sail from the shore as it now exists; upon which ships sailing to the Pontus run, while apparently still in deep water, and find themselves unexpectedly stranded on the sandbanks which the sailors call the Breasts. That this deposit is not close to the shore, but projected to some distance, must be accounted for thus: exactly as far as the currents of the rivers retain their force from the strength of the descending stream, and overpower that of the sea, it must of course follow that to that distance the earth, and whatever else is carried down by the rivers, would be projected, and neither settle nor become fixed until it is reached. But when the force of the currents has become quite spent by the depth and bulk of the sea, it is but natural that the soil held in solution should settle down and assume a fixed position. This is the explanation of the fact, that, in the case of large and rapid rivers, such embankments are at considerable distances, and the sea close in shore deep; while in the case of smaller and more sluggish streams, these sandbanks are at their mouths. The strongest proof of this is furnished by the case of heavy rains; for when they occur, rivers of inferior size, overpowering the waves at their mouths, project the alluvial deposit out to sea, to a distance exactly in proportion to the force of the streams thus discharging themselves. It would be mere foolish scepticism to disbelieve in the enormous size of this sandbank, and in the mass of stones, timber, and earth carried down by the rivers; when we often see with our own eyes an insignificant stream suddenly swell into a torrent, and force its way over lofty rocks, sweeping along with it every kind of timber, soil, and stones, and making such huge moraines, that at times the appearance of a locality becomes in a brief period difficult to recognise.1

1 However cogent may be the reasons for his prophecy adduced by Polybius, there are no signs of its being fulfilled. Indeed, the bank at the mouth of the Danube, which he mentions, has long disappeared. The fact seems to be that he failed to take into calculation the constant rush of water out of the Euxine, which is sufficient to carry off any amount of alluvial deposit.

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