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52 things you should know about geology

uyt‘Advice to Young Explorationists’ would be the appropriate subtitle for this easily readable and entertaining volume.  It is a collection of essays by geologists of all vintages and a wide range of disciplines, but predominantly with direct experience of working in the oil and gas industry. 

The aim is to provide recent geoscience graduates, and those in the early stages of their career in exploration and production, with the kind of mentoring that is missing from text books.  Its publication closely follows that of 52 Things You Should Know About Geophysics (Hall and Bianco (eds) 2012); similar volumes on Rock Physics, Biostratigraphy, and Geocomputing are in preparation. 

The author guidelines for the series boil down to the instruction ‘Write 600 words on something you are passionate about’.  Each ‘Thing’ occupies a two-page spread, on which some authors have included an illustration.  (For authors whose verbosity got the better of them, one Thing has led to another, and they have been allowed two spreads, each separately titled). 

The arbitrary arrangement of the essays alphabetically by title emphasises the aim of making this a book to dip into.  A second Contents list organises the titles into themes, and there is also an index, and if these are not enough to help the reader locate a particular essay for rereading, the brief author bios at the end also include a link to the essay(s) written by each.

Essays range from the very general – enthusiastic reminiscences of careers in the industry, for example – to those emphasising the importance of fieldwork (several of these), making maps, digging up old data, and not ignoring the basinal and wider regional setting of a prospect.  HH Read’s dictum about seeing the most rocks gets at least five mentions, but several authors offer cautionary remarks about the relationship between models and observations – there’s a little philosophy here among the practical tips and the nuggets of wisdom and experience.

So, don’t be misled by the ‘You’ in the title – seeing the book on the hall table, my wife mistakenly thought it might reveal the mystery of my professional obsession with rocks – because the intended readership is quite specific.  If you’re right at the start of your career this volume will put you in touch with the human side of a geoscientist’s life in oil and gas, and will entertain as well as enlighten you.  For anyone else, you may nevertheless enjoy the insights into the preoccupations, predilections and prejudices of the life of an exploration geologist.

Reviewed by David Smith

HALL, Matt (Editor)  Published by: Agile Libre, Nova Scotia, 2014, 130pp. ISBN 978-0-9879594-2-3 (pbk) RRP (UK) £12.00