Book review: The Isle of Wight: Geologists’ Association Guide No. 60, by Andy Gale

Jon Trevelyan (UK)

Andy Gale’s update of his guide to the Isle of Wight (this is the sixth edition) is an important change to an already excellent geological guide. The Geologists’ Association has been updating several of its guides – using a modern format, and providing better colour pictures and diagrams – and this is another great example.

The Isle of Wight is a superb place to go if you are interested in geology and fossils, and want good weather and an entertaining holiday. The island’s stratigraphy includes rocks from the Cretaceous, from the uppermost Hauterivian Stage of the Lower Cretaceous (the Wealden Group) to the Campanian Stage of the Upper Cretaceous chalk. It then includes sediments from the Eocene and Oligocene, the fossils from which are justly famous. In fact, the island has played a key role in the development of British stratigraphy and palaeontology from Victorian times and, according to P M Hopson, it gained the name during these times of the “diamond in the Crown of British Geology”.

One of the reasons for the new edition is that there have been major changes in stratigraphical nomenclature associated with the publication of a new geological BGM map in 2013, which reclassified the Chalk Group and Quaternary of the island. In addition, there have been numerous changes in lithostragraphical nomenclature as a result of Chris King’s ‘Correlation of the Tertiary Rocks of the British Isle’, all of which have been adopted in this guide.

The guide follows the normal GA format, with an introduction covering the history of research, stratigraphy, structure and palaeontology. It then covers 19 separate itineraries, with useful information (length, map references and safety), together with discussions of the geology at the standard one has come to expect from such guides. Add to this, the excellent colour photographs and diagrams, and you have another winning combination.

Andy Gale is Emeritus Professor of Geology at the University of Portsmouth, with interests in Cretaceous palaeontology and stratigraphy, with 50 years of studying the Isle of Wight’s geology. He has published more than 200 research papers and has led many field excursions to the island (including an excellent one I attended) and many other locations.

The Isle of Wight: Geologists’ Association Guide No. 6 by Andy Gale, The Geologists’ Association, London (2019). 174 pages, softback, ISBN: 978-0900717-966-3

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