Book review: Introducing Stratigraphy, by Paul Lyle

Jon Trevelyan (UK)

I have recently reviewed another Dunedin book – Sedimentary Structures – which is definitely a more academic book than this one, but which overlap to some extent. However, the two guides show the range of publications by produced by Dunedin. This one is a new guide in its ‘Introducing …’ range of books, covering the branch of geology that studies rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification), primarily in sedimentary rocks, but also layered igneous rocks. In this way, it is intended for students and amateur geologist, rather than the academic earth scientist.

More particularly, the guide explains that a common goal of stratigraphic studies is the interpretation of sequences of rock strata to understand the time relationships involved, and to correlate units of rock strata found elsewhere. That is, this short book is intended to be a guide to the understanding of geological time, by applying the fundamentals of stratigraphy to the sub-divisions of the geological column. In this way, the reader is invited to explore and understand the concept of geological time and see how the science of stratigraphy can be used to measure and interpret changes that have taken place throughout deep time and the history of the earth. However, as becomes clear, stratigraphy, as a science, has applications in many scientific fields, including archaeology, palaeontology and the search for natural resources.

Like all Dunedin guides, the book contains excellent colour photographs and diagrams, is written in an easy style, and contains a glossary of the more obscure technical terms used. In particular, it provides an introduction to the subject and covers: the historical development of stratigraphy, uniformitarianism and catastrophism in stratigraphy, the quantification of the stratigraphic column (that is, absolute time), an integrated account of the stratigraphic column, the definition of stratigraphic units and the ‘Golden Spike’, and the application of stratigraphy. Therefore, it is a short but thorough guide to the subject.

Paul Lyle has retired from his post as a lecturer in geology at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown and now devotes his time to writing on geological issues. He his earlier book for Dunedin, ‘The Abyss of Time’ (reviewed in Issue 45), won the ASE Science Book of the Year Award in 2016.

Introducing Stratigraphy by Paul Lyle, Dunedin, Edinburgh and London (2019). 133 pages, softback (and also available as an eBook), ISBN: 978-178046-022-2

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