Book review: The Roadside Geology of Wales: Geologists’ Association Guide No. 69, by Jim Talbot and John Cosgrove

Jon Trevelyan (UK)

The Geologists’ Association has produced yet another great guide, this time on the geology of Wales. However, this is a slightly different beast from most of their other publications. As is always the case with this excellent series of guides, the book describes the geology of different sites capable of being visited by the enthusiast. However, this time, the conceit is that visiting the locations is assumed to be by car.

This is an interesting idea and one that can, and probably should, be used by the GA to produce more guides on the UK and surrounding islands (and possible outside of the UK). As a possible holiday guide or if a person just wants to know to look out for something along the side of the A470 on his or her way from Cardiff to Brecon, it may well be very interesting indeed. And, actually, it isn’t really necessary to have a car to enjoy this book at all. The discussions on the geology of Wales and the individual sections on the different Welsh regions are all highly readable, interesting and informative, with the guide aimed at amateurs with little formal geological background.

As the authors (one a retired academic, the other a professor of structural geology) point out, Wales is historically one of the “classic areas” of world geology. For example, the three earliest subdivisions of the Palaeozoic Era (covering about 160Ma) were first recognised in Wales and were subsequently named after Welsh tribes and mountains. And, there are many examples of interesting geology along the sides of Welsh roads, including basin sedimentation, volcanic activity and the effects of plate tectonic movements.

My only complaint is my usual one. It seems that, nowadays with the GA guides, all new publications have a ring binder. As I have said in the past, I don’t like these. However, that said, the photographs and illustrations (the majority of which are in colour) are very pleasing on the eye and informative. In short, it is a fine book. If you are interested in the geology of Wales as you drive around the principality, you will certainly enjoy it.

The Roadside Geology of Wales: Geologists’ Association Guide No. 69 by Jim Talbot and John Cosgrove, The Geologists’ Association, London (2011). 214 pp., softback, ISBN: 978-0900717-51-2

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