Geologists’ Association Guide No 2 Compiled by Frank Moseley The Lake District is obviously a prime UK holiday hotspot and, each  year, thousands of people visit to enjoy the walking and scenery. Equally obvious is the fact that these activities are possible as a direct…

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 newly published guide is another near-perfect fossil book from Siri Scientific Press, who are rapidly becoming my favourite publisher of esoteric palaeontology. This one is perhaps less arcane, as it deals with an area of Britain that has been extensively covered by various authors with varying degrees of success.

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.

This GA guide was first published in 1995 and is a great example of the sort of guide that the association still produces – coverage of small(ish), but important areas, where the geology is both fascinating and important. This one contains general descriptions of the geology and geomorphology of this part of west Wales, with 19 separate itineraries, written by 11 experts in their fields.

This is the much anticipated 4th edition of the GA’s Yorkshire Coast guide and it was well worth the wait. From personal experience, I was aware that the previous editions were extremely good for any geologist – professional, academic or amateur – who is attracted by the wonderful scenery and fascinating geology of this part of the UK coastline. However, this new edition is altogether an even better product.

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.

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 another of Dr David Penney’s (founder and owner of the excellent Siri Scientific Press, whose books I have frequently reviewed in this magazine) books on fossil spiders and insects. It is co-written with Dr James Jepson, whose research in Germany has involved studying fossil insects preserved in rock.

The ‘Bracklesham Beds’ are a series of predominantly soft silty sands and clayey silts laid down in a sub-tropical shallow marine environment around 46Ma. Fossils are readily eroded and can be found loose on the beach along with modern sea shells. The guide has simple maps to direct fossil hunters to the best areas for surface-picking and likely exposures when the beach sand has been removed.

This is the second of a two-part series of monographs on spiders (and arachnids more generally) involving Dr David Penney (the first is Fossil Spiders: The evolutionary history of a mega-diverse order – Monograph Series Vol 1). This one is written with Jason Dunlop, who has described numerous new fossil species in a variety of arachnid groups, from scorpions to harvestmen, to mites and even some extinct groups.

As the author, John McManus, writes: “The East Neuk of Fife was blessed with a mineral resource that was relatively easy to access”. This resource was coal – the driver of the industrial revolution and, even before then, a crucial element to the area’s industrial development from medieval times (or even Roman times) to the late twentieth century.

This is clearly one for our German readers, of which I am glad to say there are many. However, this glossy and excellently produced hardback, covering the fossils of the Alpstein region of Switzerland, may have general appeal to anyone interested in the identification and study of fossils from various parts of the world, despite being written in German.

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.

This Dunedin Academic press guide provides, at an introductory level, a succinct and readable guide to metamorphism. As readers will know, metamorphic rocks are one of the three main types of rocks.

The Crowood Press are really developing a nice little series of books on the landscape and geology of select regions of the British Isles, and Tony Waltham’s addition to the series about the Peak District is well worth a read. This new one follows the same format as the others – beautiful, full colour photos and diagrams, a fascinating chapter on each of the important geological and geomorphological aspects of the area (including buildings and industry), and an author who knows his stuff and can write it down with an easy and authoritative style.

In this second edition, Dougal Jerram has revised and updated the 2001 version, first published by Alwyn Scarth and Jean-Claude Tanguy. This is to reflect modern research and understanding of Europe’s volcanoes of the last 10,000 years (active, dormant and extinct).

This is another of the GA’s short guides, being only 21 pages long and therefore easy to put in a cagoule pocket. Importantly, the five excursions described in the guide are centred on the city of Plymouth. Therefore, the logistics necessary to visit the itineraries should be relatively easy.

This GA guide is stated to be a “Geology Teaching Trail”. Well, it may be, but when I ambled along the trail with the guide in my hand, I certainly wasn’t in a teaching situation. Rather, I was out for a nice walk and a guide to explain what I was seeing. And it did just that and the classic Silurian/Ordovician unconformity you can see was just that. Classic!

West Dorset is rightly famous for its fossils, but few people visit its wonderful, fossiliferous cliffs to look at them as landforms, rather than as an endless source of ammonites and belemnites. This guide does just that and, covers a series of itineraries in the context of landform type.

This is one of GA’s little guides to a very specific area. This one is West Cornwall, a holiday destination that I recently visited during which I spent some time looking at the geology, along with the gardens and archaeological sites.