George Burden (Canada) The rickety taxi bumped and rattled its way southward, into the scenic peaks of the Dominican Republic’s northern cordillera. Frequent washouts from seasonal torrential rains make the going tricky and, at times, even a little perilous. However, we finally arrived at a small community, the site of … Read More
Steve Koppes (USA) Although he is an experimental physicist who discovered new elementary particles in the early 1950s and invented the high-resolution scanning ion microprobe, Riccardo Levi-Setti also is known in paleontological circles for co-discovering a giant trilobite subspecies and for his book, Trilobites. Decades ago, as a diversion, Levi-Setti … Read More
Flavia Faedo (UK) The Thiepval Memorial is situated four miles (almost 6.5km) north of the town of Albert, in northern France, and was built to commemorate British soldiers who have no known grave, yet died here during the Great War of 1914-1918. This memorial rises majestically from the woods and, … Read More
Megan Jacobs (UK) The history of geosciencein the UK is heavily dominated by men, with eminent figures such as Sir Richard Owen, Charles Lyell, William Buckland and Gideon Mantell famed for making many big advances in the early days of the science. However, in the background were powerful and intelligent women, leading, directing, guiding, even pushing their husbands with hard work. Tenacity and dedication to the subject and, presumably devotion and loyalty to their respective spouses. Ultimately, a small army of behind-the-scenes women advanced the science by leaps and bounds, such that, by the end of the nineteenth century, they had laid the foundations for women to move from the peripheries of academe to its heart. During the 1800s and early 1900s, male scientists often had female assistants, whose research and findings were included in the lead scientists’ work. However, as the women themselves were not labelled as scientists, they did not receive the acknowledgement or credit they rightly deserved. It has been said that some women published scientific papers using a male pseudonym, allowing for their research to be revealed to the scientific community, without suffering the repercussions of an elitist and blatantly sexist society. In recent years, we have become increasingly more aware of women’s contributions to science and the often-unfair treatment they received from the 1600s, until the last couple of decades. Certainly, the most famous woman in the earth sciencesof the nineteenth century must be Mary Anning. At the time, she went mostly uncredited and faced … Read More
I approached this book with what turned out to be completely irrelevant preconceptions. I was very wrong. In fact, this is a little geological tour de force describing field locations and, what one reviewer described as “the logic of geology: how vanished land – and seascapes can be conjured back into existence from the raw rock record”.
Peter J Perkins (UK) This article is for those who like a geological excuse for visiting places. There may well be quaint villages, wonderful scenery and unusual wildlife but, if there is some special geology, so much the better. La Rioja is one of the small regions of northern Spain. … Read More
Rob Hope (France) Ahh, fossil footprints… simultaneously tantalising, evocative and enigmatic! Trace fossils of footprints are known throughout the world, including in the Jura Mountains of both France and Switzerland. Recently, near the tiny French village of Coisia, about 30km north of Geneva, a large slice of rock has revealed … Read More
Alister Cruickshanks (UK) The discoveries made by Spirit, one of two exploration robots that NASA sent to Mars in 2003, have shown that it is more than likely that the planet once had oceans, lakes and rivers, and that water could still exist at the poles and in deep craters, … Read More
This book has something of an aspirational, rather than practical, feel to it. However, there is no doubt – in my mind anyway – that it is the best book on the geology of the Himalaya I have read. It is written with a nice light touch, with some humour. And it covers far more than just geology – where appropriate, it includes history, especially about the exploration of the subcontinent, and Asian culture.
Dr Steven C Sweetman (UK) Bones from the Early Cretaceous Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight in southern England have been at the forefront of dinosaur research since before the term ‘Dinosauria’ was invented the following is a summarhy of the significant events in terms of dinosaurs and the … Read More
I really like the ‘Introducing ….’ series publish by Dunedin Academic Press, as you will have ascertained, if you have read the many reviews I have included in this magazine. This second edition of Introducing Sedimentology by Stuart Jones updates the version I reviewed a while ago (see Book review: Introducing Sedimentology, by Stuart Jones), and I found it equally enjoyable.
Alister Cruickshanks (UK) In this second part of my article, I continue to follow the journey of Spirit, one of NASA’s twin exploration robots, in its exploration of the geological features of Mars up to its present position. The opportunity for the robot to explore has been curtailed during the … Read More
This is a difficult but nevertheless extremely interesting book. It is written, I think, for academics, but interested amateurs (like I did)will certainly find it stimulating – a mixture of palaeoanthropology and the philosophy of science.
Rutile is a metallic-grey to earthy-red, brown, violet or black mineral, largely composed of titanium dioxide (TiO2). It is the most naturally occurring form of this particle and has among the highest refractive indices of any known mineral. It also has a hardness rating of 5.5 to 6.5. Apart from … Read More
I never realised just how diverse the rocks of this – the smallest of the Channel Islands – is. They are clearly well exposed and easily seen along the coast (and the cliffs are wonderful to look at). The guide also points out that the island’s rocks provide the best opportunity to see intrusive, igneous suites of the Cadomian orogeny (a tectonic event or series of events in the late Neoproterozoic, about 650 to 550 million years ago),and the lower Cambrian fluvial strata associated with post-Cadomian sedimentation. And I know from personal experience that each of the walks will be a delight, as the island is phenomenally beautiful.
Alister Cruickshanks (UK) It is perhaps one of the most exciting explorations in recent years – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers have changed our views of the red planet and re-written textbooks. In the past, researching and mapping the geology of Mars has seemed something that geologists could only dream of … Read More
Harry Meisner (Germany) The Antwerp harbour area in Belgium is a very interesting spot for finding fossils. In October 2010, the port approved a long-term investment plan, worth €1.6 billion over the next 15 years. As a result, for a while, the whole area became one big fossiliferous outcrop as … Read More
Deborah Painter (USA) Dinosaur fossils in the United States are mainly associated with the Mesozoic era age sedimentary rocks of the western states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. East of the Mississippi River, their fossils are scarcer, although they definitely exist. There is Mesozoic age surficial bedrock … Read More
Jack Wilkin (UK) My PhD at the University of Exeter focuses on using micropalaeontology and various geochemical methods from Holocene marine sediment cores, to try to find out how the climate of South Georgia has changed over the past 15,000 years. One of the microfossil groups I’m using to achieve … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) Gobustan in Azerbaijan is an interesting site depicting prehistoric rock art. The petroglyphs here vary in age from the Upper Palaeolithic Era to the Middle Ages (Fig. 1). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, more than 6,000 images can be seen here (Figs. 2 to 9). The petroglyphs … Read More
Recently, I have finished the Great Silurian Controversy, a magnificent book about the nineteenth century arguments over the age of the lower Palaeozoic greywackes/sediments of Devon, and the creation of the concept of the Devonian. And reading The Lewisian: Britain’s oldest rocks by Graham Park, perhaps it occurs to me that this should perhaps be called, The Great Lewisian Controversy. It shares the same historical and scientific intentions, and the same grand sweep of scientific history from the early twentieth century, namely, the exploration over decades of the geology of the Lewisian of northwest Scotland.
Jon Trevelyan (UK) One rainy afternoon in March, rather than getting wet collecting fossils near Radstock, I abandoned my plans and paid a brief visit to the Wells & Mendip Museum in Somerset. It is not a geology museum, but it does have some great geological exhibitions. The museum (Fig. … Read More
The Cro-Magnons were a population of early modern humans (that is, they were physically indistinguishable from us, today), who lived in Europe between about 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, during the Upper Palaeolithic period. This information comes from Trenton Holliday’s excellent book, which tells the story of these people in the context of recent scientific advances. However, while it does not shy away from complex scientific issues, the book is written with a light, understandable touch.
Alison Cruickshanks (UK) In the final part of my article, I will look at locations on the Isle of Wight. Anyone who has visited the Isle of Wight will know that the island is famous for dinosaurs. Indeed, popular visitor attractions include the museums at Dinosaur Isle, Blackgang Chine (which … Read More
Allen Fraser (UK) Shetland is a spectacular group of islands with a varied geology, a wonderful landscape and a special flora and fauna, peopled by a culture distinct within the British Isles. Shetland remains one of Britain’s natural treasures.” (J. Laughton Johnston) The islands Shetland sits on the edge of … Read More
Alison Cruickshanks (UK) In the first part of this article, I discussed locations in the Suffolk area. Since then, I have visited a few locations in the neighbouring county of Norfolk including West Runton, Weybourne, Overstrand and Hunstanton. Most of the rocks in Norfolk are Cretaceous. However, you also find … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) Mohansinh Sodha (Fig. 1) is the founder of the Kutch Fossil Park located in Kutch, in the state of Gujarat in India. The park exhibits invertebrates, including ammonites, belemnites, nautilus (Fig. 2), brachiopods, gastropods (Fig. 3), corals (Fig. 4) and echinoderms. Marine fossils, including brachiopods and echinoderms, … Read More
Jon Trevelyan(UK) Contained in what was once the Radstock Market Hall (Fig. 1), this is perhaps one of my favourite local museums. Maybe it is because the museum is close to wonderful relics of the Somerset coal industry and to the Upper Carboniferous plant fossils that were a waste product. … Read More
Alison Cruickshanks (UK) Fossil collecting was never an interest of mine until I met my fiancé, husband. Alister’s interest in palaeontology is evidenced by the fact that he is production manager of this magazine and, after we first met, he started encouraging me to accompany him on collecting trips. After … Read More
Michael Hesemann (Germany) Two years ago, I joined an evening course on microfossils. I started by learning the proper use of microscopes and observing 4 to 5cm (that is, rather big) fossil otholiths (that is, the ear stones of fish). Soon ostracods, nummulites, smaller foraminifera and diatoms were given to … Read More