Book review: World of Geology: Travels to Rocky Places, by Tony Waltham

Jon Trevelyan (UK)

This is a lovely example of photographs used to inspire and text to explain. For many years, Dr Tony Waltham has produced a photo plus explanatory text for the back cover of the glossy magazine, Geology Today. The book represents a compilation of 110 such back covers that set out a “photographic journey” around some of the most impressive geological landscapes of the world as a result of his own travels.

From the examples in the article that accompanies this book review (see World of geology) – which are all taken from the book itself – you can see what this involves. As he points out, a core component of the natural world is geology, more particularly, the rocks and landforms that have been created through the processes of erosion and the deeper forces of plate tectonics. And the flora and fauna (including man) of each of the world’s environments are shaped, at least in part, by these aspects. Therefore, the photographic landscapes included in this book are intended to show how geology has shaped the world around us, in particular, the wonderful vistas that are displayed in the book.

Tony Waltham is a geologist who graduated from Imperial College, London and studied in the mines of Norway for his PhD. He was then a university lecturer for many years in Nottingham, where he taught mining and civil engineers, and pursued research into ground stability and geohazards. He has travelled the world with his camera (and often his wife), and this has resulted in a splendid and substantial collection of photographs, many of which reflect his own interests in geology. These have been used as a core for his lecture presentations and university teaching, simply because geology is an extremely visual subject. The photographs and their accompanying texts follow a grand tour across the surface of the planet and, as he says, “Perhaps the whole book is best viewed as a glorious journey of discovery”.

The book also includes a brief introduction to geology, particularly the unifying theory of plate tectonics. However, it is the beautiful, full-colour photographs that dominate and make this a lovely addition to one’s library – to dip into whenever time allows or to read from cover to cover.

World of Geology: Travels to Rocky Places by Tony Waltham, Whittles Publishing Ltd (2019), Caithness, Scotland. Softback, ISBN: 978-184995-437-2

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