Product has been added to the basket

Bruce Yardley appointed Chief Geologist

Bruce Yardley (Leeds University) has been appointed Chief Geologist by The Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Chartership news

Chartership Officer Bill Gaskarth reports on a projected new logo for use by CGeols, advice on applications and company training schemes

Climate Change Statement Addendum

The Society has published an addendum to 'Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record' (November 2010) taking account of new research

Cracking up in Lincolnshire

Oliver Pritchard, Stephen Hallett, and Timothy Farewell consider the role of soil science in maintaining the British 'evolved road'

Critical metals

Kathryn Goodenough* on a Society-sponsored hunt for the rare metals that underpin new technologies

Déja vu all over again

As Nina Morgan Discovers, the debate over HS2 is nothing new...

Done proud

Ted Nield hails the new refurbished Council Room as evidence that the Society is growing up

Earth Science Week 2014

Fellows - renew, vote for Council, and volunteer for Earth Science Week 2014!  Also - who is honoured in the Society's Awards and Medals 2014.

Fookes celebrated

Peter Fookes (Imperial College, London) celebrated at Society event in honour of Engineering Group Working Parties and their reports

Geology - poor relation?

When are University Earth Science departments going to shed their outmoded obsession with maths, physics and chemistry?

Nancy Tupholme

Nancy Tupholme, Librarian of the Society and the Royal Society, has died, reports Wendy Cawthorne.

Power, splendour and high camp

Ted Nield reviews the refurbishment of the Council Room, Burlington House

The Sir Archibald Geikie Archive at Haslemere Educational Museum

You can help the Haslemere Educational Museum to identify subjects in Sir Archibald Geikie's amazing field notebook sketches, writes John Betterton.

Top bananas

Who are the top 100 UK practising scientists?  The Science Council knows...

May 2012



This is the most important book ever written on Hertfordshire’s Earth heritage - an elegant summary of geology and physical landscape, attractively presented. It stands as a testament to John Catt’s editorial and writing skills as well as his deep personal knowledge, and to his determination that Percy and Enid Evans’ original idea (of a book ‘for naturalists who are not geologists’) should be realised.

With few exceptions, the book successfully treads the narrow line between detail and generality. The elements of geology are briefly but succinctly explained before Hertfordshire’s geological history, which occupies almost half the book, is recounted. Chapter two deals with bedrock geology, from borehole data and remote sensing to the earliest outcropping strata. Chapter three is devoted to the Chalk, and Chapter four to the Palaeogene, including a valuable treatment of the Hertfordshire Puddingstone and allied silcretes.

The strength of chapters five and six lies in the way they explain landscape development in the Neogene and Quaternary. The erosion surfaces and drainage network of the Chilterns, the influence of buried structural features, the story of the proto-Thames and its suite of river terraces, and the profound impact of the Anglian glaciations are all detailed - with interesting diversions upon Devensian periglacial features and the cultural uses of puddingstone and sarsenstone. This book is likely to become a nationally important reference on the subject of Neogene landscape development.

The next two chapters explore soils and their links with ecology and agriculture (Chapter seven), prehistoric archaeology and human settlement (Chapter eight) and hydrogeology (Chapter nine). In places, most notably with hydrogeology, the editor has clearly had a difficult task deciding how much unfamiliar science to include, and more detail could have been omitted without detracting from the important discussion of water-related themes in this dry county. The final chapter treats the built environment and mineral resources. Here we find the highest density of photographs, which bring the subject alive. The book is rounded off with 35 pages of references and a twelve-page index.

Hertfordshire Geology and Landscape will complement A Geological Conservation Strategy for Hertfordshire, (Herts RIGS Group, 2003). Its multidisciplinary approach will assist partnership work between heritage interest groups. It represents good value for money, and deserves to find a permanent place on the shelf of anyone interested in understanding Hertfordshire’s natural and cultural environment.

Reviewed by Tim Holt-Wilson

JOHN CATT (Ed). Published by: Hertfordshire Natural History Society, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9521685-9-1 (hbk). 374pp
List price: £39.50 incl p&p.  £34 if collected from HGS meetings or from HNHS.



Are upright pinnacles of rock strewn across an Anglesey beach the remains of a giant game of skittles, or were they left behind after ice, wind, rain and waves had eroded the surrounding rock? Do patterns covering rock surfaces along a beach represent ancient mudflats, or the skin of a dragon? In ‘Rock Tales’, Chris Fletcher leaves us to make up our own minds, explaining both myth and science with the help of Harry Harrison’s quirky drawings.

Some might see this as a confusing way to introduce children to geology, but analogy is a powerful tool in communicating science. Stories about the formation of a landscape, some of which have been passed down over centuries, not only help the memory, but remind us that landscapes have a human, as well as a geological past.

The book takes us on a tour of the geology of Anglesey, with sketch maps pointing out the geological features as well as local places of interest. The foreword encourages readers to take the book with them when exploring the landscape, and the parallel stories are intended to be viewed in front of the features described.

The mythological stories all refer to a family of giants, along with their pets, and are presented alongside a geological explanation of the feature. These can be a bit high-level at times – terms like ‘cleavage’, ‘fold axis’ and ‘percolated’ could do with some simplification; but there are plenty of sketch diagrams, photographs and cartoons alongside the text to help. These are a great combination of the technical and artistic, and are a useful introduction to the idea of interpreting landscape through diagrams.

Mythological explanations are a good way to remind us that interpretations of the geology around us have changed over time, but I would have liked to know more about the origin of these stories, and whether they were the work of the author, established mythology, or a mixture of both. Similarly, there is no clear target age-group for the book – although, if it is intended as a tool for holidaying families this might be an advantage. There is something for every age here, children as well as adults.

At times the layout can be confusing, as is the use of italics to differentiate between the stories; but this is clearly a book to be read aloud outdoors rather than pored over at a desk. It is a great concept, which I hope we will see more of in the future.

Reviewed by Sarah Day

CHRIS FLETCHER Published by Y Lolfa, 2011; ISBN 978-1-84771-380-3 (pbk) 71pp
List price: £6.95