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Geology of the Dingle Peninsula – A Field Guide

Dingle Peninsular HiggsCall me superficial, but I have never found anything in geology more compelling than knowing what rocks are where.  The courses I liked best had names like ‘Regional Geology of the British Isles and Ireland’ and the tweedy pipe-smoking people who taught them embodied the vanishing vibe that had attracted me to the subject—and still does; a world of ‘Area Geologists’ who know their patches and lovingly devote their lives to every square inch.

This book is clearly a labour of love; and it is heartening to see it published by, of all things, a national geological survey.  There will be more like it, I understand; and I hope this one is taken as a model, because it is exemplary.

The Dingle Peninsula is one of those areas where universities used to (and maybe still do) love to take students—simply because you can see more geology per square inch there than almost anywhere else.  The concentrated complexity of its rocks, combined with glaciation, has produced a rich variety of landforms.  As well as lying on or close to major orogenic sutures, and bearing the overprint of more than one mountain-building episode, there are igneous rocks, fascinating sedimentology (unrivalled Devonian sequences) and even fossils to be found (assuming you’re allowed).

After a short Introduction setting out the book’s aims—and the usual health and Safety, and Country Code advice—the authors describe the broad geological evolution of the Dingle Peninsula from Ordovician to Carboniferous (and Quaternary) before taking the reader on excursions through four areas: SW, NW, SE and NE Dingle.  These areas are helpfully delineated on a fantastic 1:50,000 solid geology map provided in a wallet at the back. 

This is a large-ish book so it won’t fit in your pocket unless you’re also a shoplifter; but the gain in breathing space is worth it.  Big, legible text, plenty of white space, beautiful colour photographs and what Dick Selley calls ‘geophantasmograms’ (sedimentological block diagrams, also in colour) are provided—all located conveniently within the text so you don’t have to use all your fingers as bookmarks while referring to them.

I cannot praise the production too much.  It has hardly any proofing errors, and those it has are not dangerous.  There is even a glossary, which contained all the words I tested, and helpful further reading lists throughout.  A delight.

Reviewed by Ted Nield

GEOLOGY OF THE DINGLE PENINSULA – A FIELD GUIDE, by Ken Higgs & Brian Williams, Geological Survey of Ireland 2018. ISBN: 1-899702-67-9. pbk., 246pp., with map.  List price: €20.00. W: https://gsi.ie/