I don’t normally review BGS memoirs – they are excellent publications, but largely written for the professional or the seriously committed amateur geologist. (I have to admit to owning several, which cover my favourite fossil collecting areas of the UK.) However, this one is a ‘Special Memoir’ that I am quite willing to make an exception for.
The Geologists’ Association has produced yet another great guide, this time on the geology of Wales. However, this is a slightly different beast from most of their other publications. As is always the case with this excellent series of guides, the book describes the geology of different sites capable of being visited. However, this time, the conceit is that visiting the locations is assumed to be by car.
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.
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.
Back in 1994, Scottish Natural Heritage, together with the BGS, published a guidebook entitled Cairngorms: A landscape fashioned by geology. With the publication of Argyll and the Islands: A landscape fashioned by geology, it has now extended this excellent series to 20 such guides.
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.
This book has the shape, form and feel of a holiday souvenir book – the sort you buy in tourist information shops to commemorate your visit, with pictures of the sites you didn’t have time to see. And, there is plenty of information for the curious visitor wanting to learn more about the earth science of the area. However, that isn’t the reason why I find it really interesting.
This is a charming little book, which describes itself as an “admittedly idiosyncratic compendium of [geological] words and phrases chosen because they are portals into larger stories”. It succeeds brilliantly at its professed goal, combining a great deal of information, education, and a gentle sense of fun, brought out very nicely by some attractive and humorous illustrations.
Fossils of the Rhaetian Penarth Group was the ninth published by PalAss and covers the eponymous Rhaetian Penarth Group, which includes the former Westbury Beds, Cotham Beds and White Lias.
The Caithness area of Scotland is important for its geology, but is also well known for its palaeontology. The Caithness Flagstones are famous for fossil fish and the Helmsdale Fault for the Helmsdale Boulder Beds deposit, beside an active submarine fault scarp. The area even once had its own ‘gold rush’ and you can still try your luck at panning there today at Kildonan.
I love both the Yorkshire coast and its Jurassic fossil flora. I have used this guide many times, while ambling around looking for fossil plants.
To be fair, Essex has never been famed or well-regarded for its geology, at least not by me. I know it has its locations – Walton-on-the-Naze springs to mind – but not a lot else. However, this guide is set to change all that. Full colour photographs and illustrations (on virtually every page), with 416 pages of excellent text, with particularly good sections on the London Clay and Red Crag, it is as good as it gets. It is worth owning for its own sake, even if you are not going to, or are living in, Essex.
Once upon a time, I would have said that the only reason to buy this sort of guide is to look at the (black and white) photos of dinosaurs and their bones, and learn about the terrestrial life of what is now the Isle of Wight. However, this is obviously wrong. Of course it is possible for amateurs, as well as professionals, to find dinosaur bones on the beaches of the island.
Nowadays, people don’t do geology – they do ‘earth sciences’ – and this book is very much in that mould. That’s not to say this is a problem. Expanding the study of the world to take on a more holistic view of how things work is fascinating and, it is clear from this book, just how much man has now begun to understand and benefit from this new way of looking at geological science.
I have learned to like amber and this certainly isn’t the first book on the subject I have reviewed. I make no apologies – it’s a fascinating subject. However, if you like fossils in amber, you should definitely get this book. But, if you don’t like creepy-crawlies, perhaps you shouldn’t – as it’s the pictures that make it a resounding success.
The Dalradian is a geological term describing a series of metamorphic rocks, typically in the high ground lying southeast of the Great Glen of Scotland. It was named after the old Celtic region of Dál Riata (Dalriada) by the geologist, Sir A Geikie, in 1891, and the term now covers a range of metamorphic rocks.
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.
It appears that I was naive to assume the Tunguska explosion of 1908 had been adequately explained. It was a meteorite or, more probably, a comet that exploded above a remote area of Siberia, wasn’t it? Not necessarily! This fascinating book shows that we still await a completely adequate scientific explanation and the jury is still out on what precisely the object was.
When the long awaited PalAss guide to Wealden fossil flora and fauna finally arrived, it was apparent that it was a magnificent tome. It is, by far, the most ambitious and complete of their guides, covering various vertebrate groups, together with invertebrates, plants and stratigraphical descriptions of what can be found on the coast and in the quarries of southern England and the Isle of Wight.
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.
Recently, the Geologists’ Association kindly sent me three of their new guides to review, and I chose to review Alderney and La Hague: an Excursion Guide first, for some very personal reasons. I remember fondly my visits as a child to Alderney, and my extensive civil engineering works on Corblets beach, building dams of sand to capture the water flowing across the sand into the Race of Alderney.
Roderick Impey Murchison must have been a remarkable man. The son of a Scottish landowner, he was one of the first people to rigorously use the principles of stratigraphy discovered by William Smith, which put him in a position to erect the Silurian system and to name about 123myrs of geological time.
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.
This is a comprehensive account of the minerals found in the British Isles (including Ireland) and the surrounding islands. At over 600 pages and illustrated throughout by over 550 images (mostly in colour), the book provides exhaustive coverage of the remarkably wide range of minerals found in this part of the world.
Anglesey contains a fascinating variety of rock types and geological structures, best exposed in a magnificent coastline. The bedrockgeology of Anglesey comprises a complex collage of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that were formed between 300 and 650 million years ago.