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Book Reviews

Cyprus: Classic Geology in Europe Series

STEPHEN EDWARDS, KAREN HUDSON-EDWARDS, JOE CANN, JOHN MALPAS, COSTAS XENOPHONTOS Published by: Terra Publishing Publication Date: January 2010 ISBN: 978-1-903544-15-0 List price: £17.95 281pp

Edwards et alIt’s a guidebook. Not being familiar with the Classic Geology in Europe series, I thought this would have been written in textbook format, or perhaps a series of reprints of groundbreaking articles. At first, I was disappointed; but it is presented in such a way that readers can construct their own itineraries, to include only those sites of interest to them. All in all, I found it well written, understandable and interesting (though I admit I had to brush the cobwebs off my old igneous and metamorphic petrology textbooks!).

I liked the way the Introduction sets the stage for using the book, and explains what one should do if planning an excursion there. It also presents page-size maps with stops clearly labelled. A brief, but concise geological overview is presented in Chapter One. Although the book focuses on geology, it also covers other subjects, indirectly acknowledging that geologists are a well-rounded group with many interests.

The focus of the guidebook is the Troodos ophiolite and related faulting; the plate tectonic interplay that created the Mamonia terrane, and the surrounding sedimentary rocks that cover more than 80 million years of Earth history. Each chapter has a good summary of the geology that is viewed/discussed at the stops covered; then each stop has a more detailed explanation of what to look for. Some of the landmarks used to locate outcrops include cultural and topographic features, but the authors, to their credit, provide GPS coordinates as needed.

For those who prefer a more structured approach to field trips, the final chapter presents day-long excursions that follow systematic routes covering one or more themes discussed in other chapters. Sadly, all the photos are black and white: it would have helped if some had been in colour. However, this alone is not enough to prevent the text achieving the authors’ objective, which is to share their knowledge with as broad an audience as possible. I would recommend this book to all geologists and geologists-at-heart.

Reviewed by: Bob Rieser

Once upon a Time in the West: The Corrib Gas controversy

LORNA SIGGINS Published by: Transworld Ireland Publication date: 2010 ISBN: 9781848270947 List price: £14.99 470pp E: [email protected]

SigginsThis is a blow-by blow account of how a small group of western Irish country people resisted the bringing ashore of natural gas from the Corrib Gas Field (North Atlantic). There is no geology or science in the story, written by the Irish Times journalist who covered the controversy from its beginning. It is entirely political and for me the most boring read I can remember inflicting upon myself. However, it has important “NIMBY” lessons for politicians and developers of all kinds in a democracy. The imprisonment of ‘The Rossport Five’ in 2005, when they refused to allow Shell workers onto their land in contempt of court orders, obtained widespread publicity and sympathy.

The gas was discovered in 1996 by Enterprise Oil but nearly 15 years later, by which time Shell Oil had purchased most of the company, local resistance, obstruction and opposition had so succeeded in delaying the project that the pipeline ashore was still not completed. Planning permission for the final foreshore link was only given in January 2011, but was immediately the subject of appeal, despite Ireland’s desperate need for the gas as its only gas field, the Kinsale Field, becomes exhausted. The pipeline is mostly buried.

According to the author, much of the blame for local opposition lay with the extraordinarily generous terms agreed with Enterprise Oil by inept Irish Ministers. These ensured the local community received virtually no benefits from the gas, and much more generous terms agreed with, for instance, Shetlanders, are cited approvingly. Shell strove to correct this; but opposition was by then entrenched.

Today when there is often NIMBY opposition to almost any development, most of which benefit the community as a whole but can degrade the local environment, there is a pressing need for better means of reaching compromises. This multidisciplinary subject is worthy of urgent university research.

Reviewed by Bernard Elgey Leake
School of Earth & Ocean Sciences
Cardiff University

Crevasse Roulette: The First Trans-Antarctic Crossing 1957-8

JON STEPHENSON Published by: Rosenberg, New South Wales, PO Box 6125
Publication date: 2009 ISBN: 9781877058660 (Hbk) List price: £22.50 192pp E: [email protected]

crThis unusual book is not by one of the expedition leaders (Fuchs and Hillary), but by the youngest and most inexperienced supporting participant, 50 years after the event. The TAE has been called an ‘anachronism’, but it was scientifically valuable, providing samples of three unexplored ranges, the Theron Mountains, Shackleton Range and Whichaway Nunataks.

The author writes well and there only a few minor slips. He is self-deprecating and humorous about his scrapes. The near-disasters experienced by the Sno-Cats in crevasses are horrifyingly illustrated (the illustrations are spectacular). Fuchs appointed a very experienced team (except for Stephenson) including pilots, wireless operators and mechanics, and men of remarkable resource like Blaiklock who, with Stephenson, led the way probing for crevasses with dog teams. Jon carried out valuable geo-reconnaissance and sampling in the three ranges, and wintered at South Ice with three companions.

Fuchs needed to bring in Hillary to get New Zealand on side. Hillary could never be a deputy, but nevertheless carried out his support role from McMurdo excellently (though not apparently always popular with his team!). His media-highlighted dash to the pole rankled with Fuchs’ team, but it is difficult to see how he could stay weeks at Depot D700 after Fuchs was delayed. The two were highly incompatible; Fuchs with early 1930s experience in five rather amateur Cambridge expeditions to the Rift Valley Lakes, and later professional experience, running the TAE as an ‘informal ship’, ready to change his plans as required whereas Hillary was much more rigid.

Stephenson brings out well the contrast between the formal US set-up run by naval officers (like Scott’s) and the informal TAE. It is apparent from reading this book that the Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, aimed at a comparable continental crossing, would probably have come to grief had landed, lacking modern mechanical.

This excellent book is difficult to put down. I am proud to have participated in the author’s later expeditions to Ambrym Island.

Reviewed by: Joe McCall