The Chalk of the South Downs of Sussex and Hampshire and the North Downs of Kent (Geologists’ Association Guide No 74) (vols 1 and 2)

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By Rory N Mortimore

I have to admit, I was beginning to wonder where Prof Rory Mortimore’s update of his excellent Chalk of Sussex and Kent was. And now I know. It wasn’t a second edition he was working on, but this magnificent magnum opus in two volumes covering a vastly greater area than that other guide. And the wait was more than worthwhile. The thoroughness, writing quality, content and publication standards are superb.

Guide No. 74, vol 1 contains an introduction to the fascinating geology of the area, which includes more than just the chalk. That is, as well as chalk geology, there are fine exposures of Quaternary geology in the area, particularly in the cross-sections of dry valleys between Newhaven and Brighton, and the raised beach at Brighton. However, the main subject matter of the book is the excursion guides to the East Sussex field sections and the coastal cliffs from Eastbourne to Brighton

Volume 2 covers further the area west, through the West Sussex South Downs to Hampshire and the western end of the South Downs Way at Winchester. It also includes all the Kent North Downs itineraries, an index and references.

Interestingly, the Geologist Association makes the following comments on the background to Rory’s new book, which speak for themselves:

The content of the guide has been greatly influenced by requests from GA members including more walks along the main inland river valleys, updates on the geology of the coastal cliffs and inclusion of more measured field sections with illustrations of key fossils. Many also asked for an expanded introductory section explaining the regional and international geological context and an explanation of the applied geology and relevance to engineering geology and hydrogeology.”

As always with Geologists Association guides, both volumes are beautifully illustrated, with full colour photographs and diagrams.

Rory Mortimer has an interesting background. He was once an office in the Brigade of Ghurkas, but Rory Mortimore is Managing Director of ChalkRock Limited, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Geology at the University of Brighton and Visiting Professor of Engineering Geology at the University of Leeds. He has also published numerous papers and books on the chalk, and has been President of the Geologist Association.

These volumes are a must-have for anyone interested in the Chalk of the south of England, regardless of experience.

The Chalk of the South Downs of Sussex and Hampshire and the North Downs of Kent (Geologists’ Association Guide No 74) (vol 1), by Rory N Mortimore, The Geologists’ Association, London (2021), 234 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-9996757-0-7.

The Chalk of the South Downs of Sussex and Hampshire and the North Downs of Kent (Geologists’ Association Guide No 74) (vol 2), by Rory N Mortimore, The Geologists’ Association, London (2021), 284 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-9996757-1-4.

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