Another geologic term with architectural origins, fluting is applied to formations that have the appearance of ornamentation, corrugation, gutterlike channels, or elongated, streamlined depressions, suggesting the shapes of flutes (the musical instrument) laid more or less parallel to each other. The word has numerous applications, often describing the effect of weathering and erosion on coarse and exposed, unstratified rock, such as granite, particularly in arid and mountainous regions. This may be the result of water erosion, or of glacial effects, and with the latter a part of a continuum including drumlins, rogen (parallel ridges of glacial drift), and hummocky terrain. In the upper Midwest, fluting refers to the small-scale gouges created by glaciers dragging an ice-embedded boulder across a rock surface, of which the most famous are on Kelly’s Island on the southern edge of Lake Erie. Yet seemingly, fluting can occur on any scale, as suggested by the geologist and climber Clarence King in his Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (1872): “Every fluting of the great valley was in itself a considerable cañon.”

John Keeble