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.

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 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.

Ever since Charles Darwin pointed out the problem, evolutionary biologists have been worried by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Fortunately, discoveries of formations containing exceptionally preserved fossils (conservation Lagerstätten) have provided fascinating and important information on the history life’s diversity.

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).

Sea level change is something that probably everyone who does their best to keep up to date about climate change, thinks they know about and on which they will have an opinion. However, this guide clearly shows that there are important misconceptions about the topic, and recent newspaper articles, TV and radio presentations unfortunately tend to bear little relation to reality.

By David N Thomas and David G Bowers The extent to which our planet is covered by oceans and seas (about 70%), and the increasing concern that right-minded people have about climate change, means that there is a both a desire and an urgent need…

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of ‘hydrogeology’ before, but I should have. Hydrogeology is an important and vibrant sub-set of geological science, dealing with the distribution and movement of water –groundwater – in the Earth’s soil and rocks. Groundwater transport is one part of the overall hydrological cycle in which water is transferred by evaporation from the oceans and seas into the atmosphere.

This 4th edition is the first edition of this book to be published with full colour illustrations throughout, and is presented as an enhancement and revision to the text to reflect advances in sedimentology since the publication the 3rd edition. Therefore, I suspect that it retains its place as a leading geological text and reference book for professional geologists and students alike.

I have reviewed some excellent previous guides in this series (Iceland: Classic Geology in Europe 3), but this one is closer to home and covers an area that I have fond memories of from my Munro-bagging days. This is more a companion guide for those walking in the Highlands, especially those on geological field trips.

Dunedin Academic Press has once again added a title to its series of introductions to scientific subjects. This one is a short introduction to an essential subject to any budding geologist (essential, because, as the author points out, 70% of the rocks on the Earth’s service are sedimentary in origin and are of the utmost economic importance to all of us.

Howgill Fells

This little guide contains excursion guides explaining and exploring the relationship in the UK between hillslope gully erosion and the response by stream and valley systems within the Howgill Fells of Cumbria. The author’s choice of this area rests on the fact that it is one of the most active landscapes in Britain from the point of view of erosion, with the steep slopes of the headwater valleys, which are riddled by networks of erosional gullies that have been active in the relatively recent past.

I remember reading and enjoying this book when the first edition came out many years ago. I am also a keen hillwalker and have stood on top of many of the Scottish mountains referred to in the text. In fact, I particularly enjoyed climbing Ben More on the island of Mull, which I remember reading was the last volcano in northwest Europe.

Almeria is a province in southeast Spain, situated in the furthest southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. And it is a classic area for southern European and Mediterranean Neogene and Quaternary geology. In fact, it is not far north of the southern boundary of the European tectonic plate and, as a result, has been profoundly affected by the interaction of this and the African plate.

For anyone like me who finds the immensity of geological time (‘deep time’) both fascinating and fundamentally difficult – both emotionally and intellectually – this is a great book. Paul Lyle has written it for environmentalists and policy makers to help them explain their concerns and decisions more clearly in the context of geological time, but these are not the only people who should read it.

Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in semi-precious stones and other pretty things. Personally, I prefer grubbing around in the dirt, perhaps for those far more beautiful, elusive and perfectly formed Cretaceous terebratulids or Silurian trilobites. However, some semi-precious stones have the advantage of also providing a tangible link to the ancient history of life that is so fascinating.

The island of Cyprus is a truly classic area of geology in Europe. Perhaps nowhere else on Earth does so small an area provide such an excellent illustration of the dynamics of Earth processes through abundant exposures of spectacular and diverse geology.

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I wish I had this book when I was starting out collecting fossils. It has everything and more you need to take your hobby (and, who know, later a career in palaeontology) to a better, and more advance and fulfilling place. While I will never take the record-keeping and note taking to the levels gently suggested in this very readable book, perhaps if I had read this when I was a teenager, perhaps I would have done.