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Rocks - a Very Short Introduction

fdyjuThis is a thorough and succinct account, accessible to all who would like a concise introduction on a wide and highly researched topic – rocks. As with many ‘VSI’ books, you are introduced to the wider concept, such as how primitive Earth and minerals were formed from supernova explosions and stellar outbursts, before exploring the differing rock types, plate tectonics, rocks on other planets, the ‘Anthropocene’ and the concept of human-made rocks.

Zalasiewicz is a great storyteller who captures your imagination as concepts are explained using straightforward prose. Not only is it a great overview of Geology 101, but the author treats us to a few surprising facts along the way. Hornfels has been utilised in past musical performances as a xylophone-like instrument, capturing the hearts of (among others) Queen Victoria!

Other than those of planet Earth, rocks from further afield are also discussed, such as our Moon, rocks of near and distant planets, and planets of other star systems, exploring the evidence and history of our knowledge.

Aside from rocks as we know them, Zalasiewicz also delves into human-made rocks such as concrete and - surprisingly - how more than 50,000 crystalline species have been made so far. Enough aluminium has be produced in the last 150 years to cover the USA entirely in kitchen foil. However, the geological longevity of human-made rocks and minerals is not yet determined, so we don’t know the full extent of our footprint for ages to come.

This book is a great pocket-sized short read and gently touches on the principles and concepts behind Earth sciences. The author also provides a recommended reading list for you to explore to your heart’s content.

Reviewed by Amy-Jo Miles

ROCKS: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION by JAN ZALASIEWICZ, 2016. Published by: Oxford University Press, 160pp. ISBN: 9780198725190 List Price: £7.99. W: