Open Eye: Serious rock.. beginners start here

Dave Rothery, who chairs the OU's second-level geology course (and is also a well-known volcanologist) has written a handy little book that combines the tradition of the long-standing Teach Yourself series with the Open University style of writing for the reader struggling to master a new topic.

Teach Yourself Geology conveys the author's enthusiasm for the subject as a whole, and covers the most important aspects of modern geological science in compact and easy to read form, supported by black and white and colour illustrations.

The scene is set by a review of the earth's deep interior and descriptions of earthquakes and plate tectonics. Next the reader is led through the natural cycles that lead to formation and destruction of rock, meeting in turn volcanoes and igneous intrusions, metamorphism, erosion and transport of material, deposition of sediment, and deformation. Concluding chapters cover physical resources, past life and fossils, the earth's geological history, extra-terrestrial geology, and fieldwork. There are also appendices on minerals, rocks and geologic time.

The author has concentrated on describing geological processes, rather than giving a blow-by-blow account of the geological history of the British Isles or teaching how to identify individual minerals (although those topics are introduced). There is relatively little on geological mapping, but Rothery shows the budding geologist how to approach and interpret exposures of rocks in the field.

Teach Yourself Geology sells at a third of the price of its larger and glossier rivals, and is making its mark as a good value primer, recommended as introductory reading for first year geology students at a number of universities.

Teach Yourself Geology by David A. Rothery (1997) Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0-34067992-1 pounds 6.99.