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.

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.

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.

Introducing Natural Resources is another in the Dunedin Academic Press series of introductions to scientific subjects, in particular, the earth sciences. You will probably be aware that I have positively reviewed a large number of them for this website, and this new guide is no different.

This is a third, revised edition of a very successful, introductory-level geology guide. In it, the author has taken the opportunity to revise and update the text, and to substitute improved illustrations for some of the old ones.

This is an interesting book for those of us who are curious about the complex origins, variety and geological history of the continent of Europe. In particular, it covers and explains the background to its distinct regions and landscapes – from the flat plains of Northern Europe to the Alps and related mountains of the south.

I love geomorphology. I suspect many people are discouraged by its scientific name, but all it means is the study of the earth’s landforms and the processes that create the landscapes we see today. That is, why this coastline looks different from that, why that mountain is a funny shape, why Africa seems to fit into South America like a jigsaw, and so on and so forth.

Introducing Mineralogy continues the high standard set by its predecessors in the Dunedin series of guides introducing aspects of the different sciences, especially the earth sciences. It is slightly larger than some of the others, but is still beautifully illustrated, nicely written and very informative.

A great number of geology books have been published in recent years about Scottish geology and I have had the privilege of reviewing a number of them. This plethora of publications is not surprising. As this book points out, in the six hundred miles between the Shetland island of Unst in the north to the Mull of Galloway in the south are some of the most interesting, varied and beautiful landscapes in Europe, if not the world.

Introducing Meteorology

The format of Dunedin books is always the same – authorative, but easy to understand text, interspersed by bold, full colour diagrams and photographs. And the topics of oceanography and meteorology certainly complement each other. The planet is two-thirds covered by water and the energy it contains massively affects the way the Earth system (especially climate) works.

Scottish Fossils

Scotland has been the source of many important fossil discoveries, from the first ever soft body parts of the conodont animal, to Devonian fishes and early tetrapods. Yet, apart from a few very good books, there is next to nothing on the fossils that can be found here. Therefore, this little book comes as a welcome addition to this otherwise barren literary scene.

I have been lucky enough to review several books by Dunedin – the others being on palaeontology, geology and volcanology. And this is as good as the others. However, it is not an easy book to read. The illustrations are, as always, superb – colourful and clear – but this book is more suitable for the more mathematically and scientifically minded, especially those who enjoy the science of engineering.

Dunedin publishes a series of ‘Guide to’ books that are excellent little volumes for the beginner and the amateur, and this one is no different. Written by the ubiquitous volcano specialist, Dougal Jerram (aka Dr Volcano), it is a nice little summary of the basics of the science of volcanology.

The Scottish Borders region is famed for their frontier history, and attendant myths and ballads. This book is concerned with their more ancient geological history, which is revealed by its rocks. These indicate that the area was once on the edge of a huge ocean – the Iapetus – which met its end between the inexorable crush of tectonic plates.

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.

In this book, you will travel back millions of years in time, as though a time-traveller, to join wildlife safaris and visit ancient environments teeming with life. As the fossils come alive, you will experience and understand the fauna, flora and landscapes seen at localities in the geological past of Scotland.

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.

Notwithstanding the somewhat daunting use of the word “geophysics” in the title, this is another great book in Dunedin’s Introducing Earth and Environmental Sciences series of guides. In fact, that term may well discourage all but the most enthusiastic Earth Scientist.