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Geoscientist Online

Aspects of the Sedimentology of South Wales

dytiAspects of the Sedimentology of South Wales follows Gareth George’s successful, also self-published, The Geology of South Wales: A Field Guide (2008, revised 2015). Both books are packed with detail, demanding intensive study rather than casual reading. 

Following an introduction, one chapter covers clastic sedimentology, from petrology through sedimentary structures and facies to sequence stratigraphy. Sedimentary rock units of South Wales then appear as case studies in chapters on major depositional environments.  Aeolian systems are represented by modern coastal dunes, and alluvial fans by the Ridgeway Conglomerate and Triassic fanglomerates from the Vale of Glamorgan. The variety of fluvial systems is illustrated with examples from the Old Red Sandstone and the Upper Carboniferous.  Upper Carboniferous units dominate chapters on deltas (also represented from the Pleistocene of Pembrokeshire), shorelines and shelves, and estuaries and incised valleys. The Carboniferous Limestone represents shallow marine environments, and Lower Palaeozoic turbidite systems exemplify deep-sea systems.

The author demonstrates an encyclopaedic knowledge of these rock successions, derived from a career-long study in the context of research, publishing, working with industry and teaching students of all ages. Detailed figures enhance the text throughout, including photographs, annotated sketches, interpretive diagrams, graphic logs and innovative ‘mini analogues’ of ancient systems based on modern environments. Much of the content draws on unpublished material, but there is an extensive reference list, as well as a detailed index and useful appendices.  

If I wanted to be picky, I could query why the overview covers just clastic sedimentology when a major chapter deals with carbonates, or whether the Upper Carboniferous really merits such dominance.  But that really would be unwarranted.  This book is packed with a wealth of detail. Although beginners might be daunted to learn of structures preserved “at the base of falling-stage and forced-regressive sandbodies” (p.25) and students are unlikely to need this much detail about one part of the world, anyone who wants to know the current state of understanding on the sedimentary geology of South Wales in one convenient source will be fascinated by this book with its meticulously detailed content and effective, exemplary communication. 

If you love the geology of Wales, or want to plan a field course here, buy a copy. Better still, buy three or four copies - for the field, the office, the library, and at least one more for when you wear the others out. 

Reviewed by Geraint Owen

ASPECTS OF THE SEDIMENTOLOGY OF SOUTH WALES by GARETH T GEORGE Published by: gareth@geoserv.co.uk, 2014. 277pp, sbk. ISBN 978-0-9559371-1-8, List Price: £18.75