The Geologists’ Association is making something of a name for itself when it comes to pushing the envelope in geological publishing in the UK. It has already produced guides to the geology of non-UK locations and I have reviewed a new guide to the roadside geology of Wales. In itself, that was quite a departure, but so is the book under review – a guide to the ‘urban geology’ of Barcelona.
I suspect that many people who visit this website do so because of their amateur love of fossils and geology. They are interested in geology and palaeontology only on a curious level. However, there are no doubt some – perhaps at university or have just left tertiary education – who are currently wondering whether their interest in fossils can be used for more remunerative purposes.
There are many good guides the geology of the Lake District and this is no exception. It is an illustrated guide to the region’s rocks and an introduction to the common rock types to be found, largely through the use of colour photographs. It also explains how they fit in with the Lake District’s geological history.
Over a period of 20 years, Ian Tyler has written a series of books on the metalliferous mining industry of the English Lake District and this has clearly been a significant labour of love for him. Unfortunately, Roughton Gill and the Mines of the Caldbeck Fells is his last – the result of the sad loss of his wife and collaborator in this project. However, he has now created an extraordinary record of the geological economic activity in this part of the world.
The author, John L Morton, certainly came to popular geological publishing by an interesting and circuitous route. Trained as a pilot, became the district commissioner for scouts in Horsham and, on retirement, studied a BSc in, among other things, geology. In 2001, on the strength of this book on William Smith, he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society.
I like the GA guides. They are excellent resources for amateurs and professional geologists alike. I frequently browse mine, planning geological trips I will probably never take, because I live in geological unexciting London. Therefore, imagine how pleased I was to receive a GA guide to the Great Metropolis to review.
Iceland seems to set the hearts of certain geologists racing and, reading this field guide, it is abundantly clear why. Set out in this concise and authoritative book is the evidence of how this strange piece of rock – astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – is a “natural laboratory”, where the earth sciences can be watched in dramatic real-time.
It might come as a surprise to the vast majority of the UK population (and probably anyone reading this elsewhere), but this country is a great place for dinosaurs. In fact, it is one of the most important places for Lower Cretaceous dinosaurs, whose remains have been found on the Isle of Wight and in the Weald. A possible Triassic dinosaur has also been found in Morayshire, Scotland, and there are plenty more from the entire length of the Jurassic.
Terry Moxon certainlky likes his agates. It is easy to see his enthusiasm and it is just as easy to appreciate it from this short book on the science of these colourful minerals. However, his is not just a casual interest. He has been involved in their study for 35 years and, for nine of these, has been a research visitor investigating them at the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University.
This is a lovely book – a glorious mixture of a beautiful coffee-table book and an academic treatise of the highest quality. But why microfossils? What is it about them that can create such strong feelings?
This is a lovely little book and something of a departure for Dr Dean Lomax, who, these days is more often seen up to his elbows in ichthyosaur remains. However, this fun little book is rather different. Dean (and ably helped by the artwork of Mike Love) has created a full-colour popup book covering the ancestors of many of our favourite pets.
Goodness me! This is a massive work (432 pages) – but written with enthusiasm from the heart, with authoritative text, lovely photos throughout, fascinating anecdotes and history, with detailed geological descriptions of all the relevant counties. Now, I’m no expert on minerals, which fall well outside the scope of my interests. However, I cannot praise this book too much.
I reviewed the 2nd edition of this guide a while ago and as I said then, iceland seems to set the hearts of certain geologists racing and reading this field guide and that previous incarnation it is abundantly clear why. Iceland’s fascinating geology is clearly set out in this concise and authoritative book. The island, astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is a ‘natural laboratory’ where the earth sciences can be watched in real-time. Rifting of the crust, volcanic eruptions and glacial activity are among a host of processes and features that can be observed in this fascinating land.
Mats Erikssön writes fascinatingly quirky articles combining his favourite genre of music and his profession – palaeontology and death (heavy) metal. I am certainly not an expert on the latter, but I do know that, to link the two, is always going to be a bold and humorous conceit.
This is a very ambitious work. The authors discuss the geology of Britain as a “geological legacy”, that is, they believe it is “an inheritance bequeathed to 11 millennia or so of its post-glacial inhabitants”. Therefore, the book covers the geological foundations of its landscape and its raw materials; and how both of these have been used by society and individuals in the visual arts and literature, as well as for mining, quarrying and architecture.
This book explains that ground conditions for building depend on the history of all these aspects in connection with both the actual building site and the surrounding area. In fact, the book goes into some detail, using colour photographs and block geomodels, to bring the subject to life in what is, I suspect, a somewhat fresh way.
This is a lovely example of photographs used to inspire and text to explain. For many years, Dr Tony Waltham has produced a photo plus explanatory text for the back cover of the glossy magazine, Geology Today. The book represents a compilation of 110 such back covers that set out a “photographic journey” around some of the most impressive geological landscapes of the world as a result of his own travels.
I have stood several times in front of an (apparently) plain white, chalk cliff-face along with others, while Prof Mortimore discussed the implications of what we were seeing. And, every time, I left not just thinking but knowing this was the most fascinating piece of geology I had ever seen. That is it the man.
Professor Robert Diffendal Jr’s little guidebook to the Great Plains of the USA makes for a fascinating read for an Englishman like me, who has never been there (but wants to). He makes it plain that they rarely correspond to the impression most people have of them.
I like palaeoart. A while ago, I went to the ‘Dinosaurs of China’ exhibition in Nottingham and bought myself a copy of the Chinese palaeoartist, Zhao Chuang’s ‘The Age of Dinosaurs’ – a veritable picture-fest of up-to-date reconstructions of ancient beasts and plants, complete with fuzzy raptors and other bird-like therapods.
This is a new edition of the classic little guide on Blue John by Trevor Ford, who has now sadly passed away. It is published by the East Midlands Geology Society and has been revised, updated and expanded by Trevor’s colleagues, Tony Waltham and Noel Worley.
Nebraska has an excellent geological record, which is celebrated by some fine mosaics at the Nebraska State Capitol. When the building was being constructed, and at the request of Prof Hartley Burr Alexander of the Philosophy Department and from drawings by a colleague, the artist, Hildreth Meière, was asked to create a series of mosaics. These are now set out on the floor of the rotunda for all to see.
Trenton Holliday’s excellent book, tells the story of Cro-Magnon people in the context of recent scientific advances. However, while it does not shy away from complex scientific issues, the book is written with a light, understandable touch.
This is an interesting little booklet and very much a new departure for the Palaeontological Association. Rather than covering specific fossils, it contains colourful, detailed, artistic illustrations, accompanied by concise explanatory text by palaeoartist, James McKay.
In these times, when the classic discipline of palaeontology is diminishing, there is a demanding need to inspire the next generation of palaeontologists – and perhaps also to make this field of scientific research more approachable. Otherwise, we are in the risk of losing generations of knowhow and a great tradition of studying time, through the evolution of life.