Introducing Geomorphology

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, which create the landscapes we see today. That is, why this coastline looks different from that, why that mountain is a funny share, why Africa seems to fit into South America like a jigsaw, and so on.

As I have said before, I have been fortunate enough to review a large number of books from the Dunedin series of guides introducing aspects of the different sciences, especially the earth sciences. And Introducing Geomorphology follows in this splendid tradition – beautifully illustrated, nicely written and very informative. The books in this series are aimed at three groups of readers. They are overviews for the interested adult; they may be useful as course text books for those taking a short course option in the subject; and they provide an overview for aspiring scientists thinking about which degree course option they might like to take.

In this short guide, the author – Adrian Harvey – explains the different forces and timescales which, combined, we need to consider to understand how landscapes are created. This may be on the local scale – from the point of view of river valleys, hills or beaches – to the global – in which plate tectonics give rise to (among other things) the shapes of the continents and vast mountain ranges. On top of that, given that geologists consider that we are currently in a geological epoch referred to as the ‘Anthropocene’, the effects of man are far from negligible.

All these are considered by the author, John Mason, who is a former professor at the University of Liverpool, where he researched and taught undergraduates in this subject. He was also editor-in-chief of a leading academic journal.

Once again, like all the others books in the series, I recommend this guide to anyone who considers themselves as falling within any of the categories referred to above and, indeed, to anybody with an adult curiosity in the landscape around them. Technical terms are kept to a minimum and there is a glossary of terms. So – this is another excellent addition to my growing collection of Dunedin guides to the earth sciences.

Introducing Geomorphology by Adrian Harvey, Dunedin Academic Press, Edinburgh (2012). 124 pp, softback, ISBN: 978-1906716-32-5