Book review: Geology of the Dorset Coast (Geologists’ Association Guide No 22) (1st edition), by John C W Cope

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Jon Trevelyan (UK)

(The second edition of this guide is reviewed at: Book review: Geology of the Dorset Coast (Geologists’ Association Guide No 22) (2nd edition), by John C W Cope.)

Whether you are an amateur collector, geology student or professional geologist, the Dorset coast will always hold a special place in most geologists’ hearts. The coastline, which forms part of the ‘Jurassic Coast’ World Heritage Site, has been the stamping ground for the historical great and the good, through to the holidaymakers of today collecting fossils for fun. It has perhaps the finest and most complete set of rocks from the Triassic, through the Jurassic and Cretaceous, to the Mid Eocene anywhere in the world and these are mostly accessible to anyone who wants to have a look.

Michael House’s version of the GA guide (September 1993) has now been fully updated and revised by John Cope. Many of Michael’s impressive diagrams have been retained, while the text has been totally rewritten to include all the changes to geological nomenclature that have occurred in recent years.

As you would expect of a GA guide, it covers the stratigraphy and the sediments (which frequently contain often beautifully preserved fossils), both at the level of an overview and by discussing many potential geological fieldtrips that a reader can go on. However, unlike the previous version, this one also covers applied geology, including Dorset’s ball-clay industry and its petroleum geology – the latter representing Western Europe’s largest onshore oilfield. Indeed, using this guide, the amateur can see for his or herself superb coastal exposures of petroleum and reservoir rocks. In fact, the itineraries it discusses cover all the obvious and excellent sections you would expect. These include Lyme Regis to Charmouth, the Lulworth area and many, many more (24 in all). In this way, the guide covers an area from near to the Hampshire border in the east, to Pinhay Bay just west of Lyme Regis, dealing with 170myrs of rock in sufficient detail to satisfy anybody who wants to know more about this wonderful coastline.

With 91 (mostly) full colour maps, illustrations and photographs of the highest quality, I can’t recommend this guide enough. However, as always, I have to ask: why does the GA have to use spiral binding? But this is a mere quibble. This is another excellent addition to anybody’s collection of geological books.

Geology of the Dorset Coast: Geologists’ Association Guide No 22, by John C. W. Cope, The Geologists’ Association, London (2012), 232 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-0900717611

UKGE Code: BK0817

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