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.

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.

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).

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 like local geological guides, which aim to get you out and about, visiting areas you might not have known are worth a daytrip. And this is a good example. I sat down and read it cover to cover, as it is only 90 pages long. And I now really want to visit this bit of Kent coastline. Largely concentrating on the Upper Cretaceous Chalk, this guidebook explains and illustrates what seems to be some marvellous geology that can also be explored during what could be a lovely day out on the beach.

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.

After having favourably reviewed the first two books in this three part series, I must admit I was very much looking forward to the publication of this last one. And, of course, I wasn’t disappointed. This is the third in a series of guides to safe and responsible fossil collecting along (this time), the East Dorset coast from the Chalk cliffs at Bat’s Head, across what are some of Dorset’s more remote coastal locations, to Hengistbury Head.

This is a new guide in Dunedin’s ‘Introducing …’ range of books, covering the branch of geology that studies rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification), primarily in sedimentary rocks, but also layered igneous rocks. In this way, it is intended for students and amateur geologist, rather than the academic earth scientist.

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.

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.

This book would seem to be the follow up to the well-received A History of Life in 100 Fossils. However, this time, this glossy hardback tells the story of plants on earth using significant fossils that are, for the most part, kept at the Natural History Museum in London. Like that other book, it is set out in a simple format, in which a couple of sides of text are used to describe a full page colour photograph of the fossil in question.

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.

Those of you who have read a few of my book reviews will know that I love geo-guides to small geographical areas, rather than just the big geological scientific issues. In fact, there are lots of good UK guides like this one, to areas such as Dorset and Yorkshire, and many areas of Scotland and Wales, for example. And this is another excellent example of that genre.

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.

Red Coast Revealed

The Jurassic Coast Trust has certainly producing some good books. As is well known, in recognition of its wonderful geology, the coast between Orcombe Rocks in southeast Devon and Old Harry Rocks in south Dorset was granted World Heritage status in December 2001. In this respect, these two guides cover the western and the eastern thirds of this remarkable coastline.

The fossil bearing rocks of the British Isles contain the remains of life from the last 2,900Ma and the UK is seen by many as the cradle of modern geology. With this is mind and using a geological map of Britain, palaeontologist Peter Doyle offers a comprehensive guide to UK fossils.