I quite like regional guides books, even about areas I haven’t been to and am unlikely to visit. That isn’t the case for South Wales, which is one of my favourite areas in the UK for both scenery and geology. Therefore, this guide is another good addition to my collection and will no doubt accompany me soon on another holiday in the Principality.
In fact, South Wales is an excellent place for geology and geomorphology, because its rocks are well exposed in cliff sections and rivers in wonderfully scenic areas. In addition, the geology is varied, with classic sections of rock that make for iconic pictures (for example, the complex folding at Pen y Afr/Camaes Head in Pembrokeshire, which adorns the cover). Therefore, it is not surprising that the guide is packed with full colour photographs, which not only illustrate the points being made, but also provide great reasons for visiting on holiday. In addition, it contains excellent colour diagrams that, for example, explain the relevant geological processes or display the fossils that can be found. (South Wales has igneous rocks, but most of its rocks are sedimentary.)
The book covers general principles of stratigraphy, fossils and biostratigraphy, and contains field analyses of sediments, sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks, and structural data. However, the itineraries are the real reason for the guide, which provides sufficient directions about how to access them and the general geological background information, together with specific details of the geology. Specifically, it covers six areas: the Vale of Glamorgan, the Gower Peninsula, the northern outcrop of the South Wales coalfield, and North and South Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay, with each area being broken down into smaller itineraries that can be visited at your leisure.
Gareth George has been teaching and researching geology since 1969 (originally at the Sir John Cass College), but retired in 2004 from the University of Greenwich after having been a part-time tutor for the Open University and a consultant to the oil industry. His interests include clastic sediments and sequence stratigraphy, in particular, in connection with the Upper Carboniferous.
If you like South Wales and geology, this is an excellent addition to anybody’s library and is essential holiday reading.
The Geology of South Wales by Gareth T George, Geoserv Publishing (2015). 282 pp., softback, ISBN: 978-09559371-2-5