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Geoscientist Online

London Pavement Geology App

dgykIn his biography of London, Peter Ackroyd notes that to touch the stones that make up the capital’s great buildings brings you into contact not only with the men and women of our near past who built the city, but allows access to a geological history that is more ancient and mysterious. For the interested ‘urban geologist’, the London Pavement Geology app (from the creators of the website of the same name is an excellent interactive guide. The app is free to download for iOS and Android, is easy to use, and it occupies only 33MB of space; this is sufficiently small to fit on most devices.

Upon opening the app, the user is presented with the Google Maps view of London. Zooming in to any part of the city reveals a forest of small pins stuck in the map at specific locations, each representing a locality at which an interesting building stone may be found. The pin-heads are colour-coded depending on rock type (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary), fossil, or geological structure. Pressing any of the pins reveals more information about each locality, including the name of the building stone and rock type, its age, geological period, and even the quarry from which it was derived. A few illustrative photographs help point the user towards the right building.

The most impressive aspect of this app is the number of localities available. All the content is user-generated, although a large number of locations have been drawn from the years of diligent investigation and collation on the part of the app’s creators. The process of adding new locations is easy, although restrictive insofar as you must be standing at the exact location if you want to submit it. New submissions are moderated before publication.

Currently, the app only covers London, which may put off geologists who are not based in the capital. However, it still acts as a useful repository of geological information as many of the building stones in London are used in other cities around the country, and the scope for future expansion to other cities is clearly apparent. For those interested in the rocks around them, London Pavement Geology is well worth downloading.

Reviewed by Matt Loader

London Pavement Geology (v. 1.0.0) is available for iOS and Android devices.