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GEOLOGY -- The Science of the Earth
The Rock Cycle
The geologic cycle, as shown by the US Geological Society

Being interested in fossils naturally leads into being interested in geology, because the two topics are inextricably intertwined. So I've accumulated quite a few books about geology, to go with my paleontology books. Also like my paleontology books, my geology books break down more or less naturally into a number of sub-topics.

Basic Geology

A lot of my geology books are college textbooks or detailed, complex explorations of specific topics in advanced geology. These really aren't suited for the casual or mildly interested reader. So I went through my geology library and came up with these books which are suitable for the casual reader, as basic introductions to one or another aspect of geology.

  • ANNALS OF THE FORMER WORLD
    Author: McPhee, John
    Copyright:1998
    Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
    ISBN: 0-374-51873-4
    An omnibus collection of John McPhee's four famous books on North American geology: BASIN AND RANGE, IN SUSPECT TERRAIN, RISING FROM THE PLAINS and ASSEMBLING CALIFORNIA. A fifth section, CROSSING THE CRATON, deals with the geology of the Midwest.
  • DICTIONARY OF GEOLOGICAL TERMS (3rd Edition)
    Author: Bates and Jackson (ed.)
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Anchor Books
    ISBN: 0-385-18101-9
    A very useful reference for an amateur like myself: the official definitions of over 30,000 terms used by geologists. Checked and published by the American Geological Institute.
  • METEORITE CRATERS
    Author: Mark, Kathleen
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: Univ of Arizona Press
    ISBN: 0-8165-1568-9

  • NEW LaROUSSE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE EARTH
    Author: Bertin, Leon
    Copyright:1972
    Publisher: Crown Publishers
    ISBN: 0-600-35464-4
    The "LaRousse Encyclopedia" series are huge books that give detailed surveys of their chosen topics. This one is about geology and other aspects of earth science. Rather old and out of date now, unfortunately.
  • PLANET EARTH: GLACIER
    Author: Bailey, Ronald L.
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Time-Life Books
    ISBN: 0-8094-4317-1
    Modern glaciers: how they form, move, and erode the landscape.
  • PLANET EARTH: ICE AGES
    Author: Chorlton, Windsor
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: Time-Life Books
    ISBN: 0-8094-4328-7
    Ice ages, their causes and effects.

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Field Guides and Manuals

These are guidebooks to rocks and minerals and rock formations, and how to identify them.

  • FIELD GEOLOGY ILLUSTRATED
    Author: Maley, Terry
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Mineral Land Publications
    ISBN: 0-940949-03-2

  • FIELD GUIDE TO GEOLOGY, THE
    Author: Lambert, David
    Copyright:1998
    Publisher: Facts On File
    ISBN: 0-8160-3823-6

  • FIELD MANUAL FOR THE AMATEUR GEOLOGIST, A
    Author: Cvancara, Alan
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
    ISBN: 0-471-04430-X
    A fairly detailed description of basic field techniques for the amateur geologist.
  • GEOLOGY OF EASTERN NORTH AMERICA, A FIELD GUIDE TO
    Author: Roberts, David C.
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
    ISBN: 0-395-66325-3
    Peterson's Field Guide Series. Field guide to major geological formations of eastern and central North America, both the United States and Canada.
  • ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MINERALS AND ROCKS, THE
    Author: Kourimsky
    Copyright:1977
    Publisher: Chartwell Books
    ISBN: 1-55521-877-6
    A detailed, thoroughly illustrated guide to most of the rocks and minerals that can be found on Earth's surface.
  • MINERALOGY
    Author: Sinkankas, John
    Copyright:1964
    Publisher: Van Nostrand Reinhold
    ISBN: 0-442-27624-9
    An advanced-amateur level text on mineralogy.
  • PRACTICAL GEOLOGIST, THE
    Author: Dixon, Dougal
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Fireside Books
    ISBN: 0-671-74697-9
    An excellent introduction to the basic concepts of geology. One of a series..
  • ROCKS AND MINERALS, A FIELD GUIDE TO
    Author: Pough, Frederick
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
    ISBN: 0-395-24049-2
    A pretty good field guide to rocks and minerals. Part of the Peterson Field Guide Series.
  • ROCKS AND MINERALS, SIMON & SCHUSTER'S GUIDE TO
    Author: Prinz, Harlow, & Peters
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Fireside Books
    ISBN: 0-671-24417-5
    Well-written and -illustrated field guide to common rocks and minerals.

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Historical Geology

"Historical" geology is the study of Earth's past: geologic time, continental drift and plate tectonics, the arcane subject of interpreting rock formations, and how geologists learn about all these things.

  • A TRIP THROUGH TIME: PRINCIPLES OF HISTORICAL GEOLOGY
    Author: Cooper, Miller, Patterson
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Merrill Publishing
    ISBN: 0-675-21134-4
    Where physical geology focuses on geology in the here and now, historical geology focuses on using the rocks to reconstruct the history of Earth over geologic time. This is more or less what the title says: a basic look at the science and principles of historical geology. I have others that I think are better, but this one is a bit shorter and simpler. It might be a good place to start if you just want an introductory course in the subject.
  • ABYSS OF TIME, THE
    Author: Albritton, Claude C.
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc
    ISBN: 0-87477-389-X
    This is a survey of how human concepts of geology and geologic time have changed over the past few centuries, from the 6000 years of the biblical literalists to the 4,700,000,000 years that's currently accepted as the age of the Earth.
  • AEROGEOLOGY
    Author: von Bandat, Horst F.
    Copyright:1962
    Publisher: Gulf Publishing
    ISBN:

  • ANCIENT ENVIRONMENTS and the INTERPRETATION OF GEOLOGIC HISTORY
    Author: Lynn Fichter and David Poche
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Burgess Publishing
    ISBN: 0-8087-0669-1

  • ATLAS OF THE PREHISTORIC WORLD
    Author: Palmer, Douglas
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Marshall Publishing
    ISBN: 1-84028-255-X

  • DATING GAME, THE: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth
    Author: Lewis, Cherry
    Copyright:2000
    Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-521-79051-4

  • EVOLVING COAST, THE
    Author: Davis, Richard A.
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: WH Freeman & Co.
    ISBN: 0-7167-5042-2

  • EXPLORING OUR LIVING PLANET
    Author: Ballard, Robert D.
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: NGS
    ISBN: 0-87044-760-2
    A look at modern geologic processes: volcanos, earthquakes, plate tectonics, continental drift, seafloor spreading. The link is to the Revised Edition.
  • EXPLORING THE GEOLOGY OF THE CINCINNATI/NORTHERN KENTUCKY REGION
    Author: Potter, Paul Edwin
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Univ of Kentucky
    ISBN:

  • GEOLOGIC TIME
    Author: Eicher, Don
    Copyright:1968
    Publisher: Prentice-Hall
    ISBN:
    A look at the ideas of historical geology as of the mid-1960s, before the general acceptance of plate tectonics.
  • GEOLOGICAL EVOLUTION OF NORTH AMERICA, THE
    Author: Clark and Stearn
    Copyright:1960
    Publisher: Ronald Press
    ISBN:

  • GEOLOGY OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
    Author: Chapman, Carleton
    Copyright:1970
    Publisher: Chatham Press
    ISBN:

  • GEOLOGY OF DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
    Author: Untermann, G.E. and B.R.
    Copyright:1969
    Publisher: Dinosaur Nature Ass'n
    ISBN:

  • HISTORY OF EARTH, THE: An Illustrated Chronicle of an Evolving Planet
    Author: Hartmann & Miller
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: Workman Publishing
    ISBN: 0-89480-756-0

  • HISTORY OF GEOLOGY, A
    Author: Gohau, Gabriel
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-8135-1666-8
    A history of the science of geology, how it developed and how it's changed over the past few centuries.
  • ICE AGES: PAST AND FUTURE
    Author: Erickson, Jon
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: TAB Books
    ISBN: 0-8306-3463-0

  • ICE AGES: Solving the Mystery
    Author: Imbrie, John and Katherine Palmer
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-674-44075-7

  • LANGUAGE OF THE EARTH
    Author: Rhodes & Stone (ed)
    Copyright:1981
    Publisher: Pergamon Press
    ISBN: 0-08-025980-4
    An unusual sort of geology book, this contains a selection of both fiction and nonfiction works that concern geology in one way or another. The authors were trying to get around the dry, clinical tone of so many geology books and instead evoke the sense of wonder and discovery that motivates most geologists.
  • MAP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
    Author: Winchester, Simon
    Copyright:2001
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    ISBN: 0-06-019361-1
    In 1793, an English canal digger named William Smith noticed a pattern to the rocks that he was digging through. He believed he had made a major discovery, and for the next twenty years he traveled throughout England, examining rocks and developing a geological map of England. In 1815 he published his map and the science of historical geology was born. But it was another fifteen years before Smith would get the recognition he deserved. This book tells the story of how he developed his map and what happened to it and to him after it was published. Note: Be forewarned that while some people like Winchester's writing style, others very strongly dislike it. You might want to look at this first in a library before buying it.
  • MINERALS OF OHIO
    Author: Carlson, Ernest
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: ODNR
    ISBN:

  • TIME'S ARROW, TIME'S CYCLE: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geologic Time
    Author: Gould, Stephen Jay
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-674-89198-8

  • WHERE TERRANES COLLIDE
    Author: Yorath, C. J.
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Orca Publishers
    ISBN: 0920501-48-6
    A look at the incredibly complex geology of British Columbia, where several exotic terranes (chunks of continental crust) have mixed and merged with the North American continent.

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The Roadside Geology books

The "Roadside Geology" books are a series from Mountain Press Publishing which is very useful if you're an amateur geologist and you like to travel. Basically they're a tourist guide to geology of various states within the US. Each book includes a number of individual trips. Each trip discusses the geologic formations visible along a particular section of road or roads: what they look like, what they're made of, their history. I currently have five volumes from the series:

  • ROADSIDE GEOLOGY OF ARIZONA
    Author: Chronic, Halka
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: Mountain Press
    ISBN: 0-87842-147-5
    Arizona is a geologic wonderland. No book can do full justice to it, but this one tries hard. The selected roads cover most of the major geologic attractions within the state: the southern deserts, the mid-state highlands, and the spectacular sights of the Colorado Plateau. Special sections discuss some of the state's national parks, such as Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Sunset Crater/Wupatki, etc.
  • ROADSIDE GEOLOGY OF MONTANA
    Author: David Alt & Donald Hyndman
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: Mountain Press
    ISBN: 0-87842-202-1

  • ROADSIDE GEOLOGY OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
    Author: David Alt & Donald Hyndman
    Copyright:2000
    Publisher: Mountain Press
    ISBN: 0-87842-409-1
    As the title says, this book covers only northern and central California, from San Luis Obispo north. The descriptions are very good; I found this book to be very helpful when I did my driving trip of the Cascades, and even more useful when I was working on the webpages for it.
  • ROADSIDE GEOLOGY OF OREGON
    Author: David Alt & Donald Hyndman
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Mountain Press
    ISBN: 0-87842-063-0
    Another one that I found very useful on my Cascades trip.
  • ROADSIDE GEOLOGY OF THE YELLOWSTONE COUNTRY
    Author: Fritz, William
    Copyright:1985
    Publisher: Mountain Press
    ISBN: 0-87842-170-X
    An unusual one in the series, since it deals only with the geology of Yellowstone National Park. Not that that's a thin subject -- Yellowstone is a gargantuan volcano, and the rocks that currently exist within the Park tell the story of its violent history.

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Specific Locales

These books deal with the geology of specific locations or regions -- a mountain range, a national park, an island chain, etc.

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Caves and Caving

"Caving" is simply the informal name for what cave explorers ("cavers") do, investigating and exploring and traveling through caves of all kinds. A more formal name for it is "speleology." Caving of any kind is a difficult activity and not for everyone; certain kinds of caving, such as cave-diving (exploring underwater caves using scuba gear) are among the most dangerous adventures in the world. I went caving once when I was in college. It wasn't a very difficult cave to get through, but it was still quite an experience, and nothing like the well-lit tourist-attraction caves I'd been in before. Ever since, I've been interested in caves and caving. At the moment I have these books on the subject:

  • ADVENTURE OF CAVING, THE: A Practical Guide for Advanced and Beginning Cavers
    Author: McClurg, David
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: D&J Press
    ISBN: 0-937757-00-4

  • BEYOND MAMMOTH CAVE: A Tale of Obsession in the World's Longest Cave
    Author: James Borden & Roger Brucker
    Copyright:2000
    Publisher: Southern Illinois Univ Pr
    ISBN: 0-8093-2346-X

  • CAVE PASSAGES: ROAMING THE UNDERGROUND WILDERNESS
    Author: Taylor, Michael Ray
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Vintage Books
    ISBN: 0-679-78125-0

  • CAVES BEYOND, THE: The story of the Floyd Collins' Crystal Cave exploration
    Author: Lawrence and Brucker
    Copyright:1975
    Publisher: Zephyrus Press
    ISBN: 0-914264-18-4

  • JEWEL CAVE ADVENTURE, THE: Fifty Miles of Discovery Under South Dakota
    Author: Conn, Herb and Jan
    Copyright:1977
    Publisher: Zephyrus Press
    ISBN: 0-914264-20-6

  • LIFE OF THE CAVE, THE
    Author: Mohr and Poulson
    Copyright:1966
    Publisher: McGraw-Hill
    ISBN: 07-046003

  • LONGEST CAVE, THE
    Author: Brucker and Watson
    Copyright:1976
    Publisher: Southern Illionois Univ.
    ISBN: 0-8093-1322-7

  • PLANET EARTH: UNDERGROUND WORLDS
    Author: Jackson, Donald Dale
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Time-Life Books
    ISBN: 0-8094-4320-1
    A look at cave systems throughout the world, including the Mammoth/Flint Ridge system that it the largest known, and the Borneo cave that contains the largest underground chamber ever found.
  • SPELEOLOGY: THE STUDY OF CAVES
    Author: Moore & Sullivan
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Zephyrus Press
    ISBN: 0-914264-22-2

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Geology Textbooks

I have a number of college textbooks on various aspects of geology, mainly because textbooks have more detailed information that any pop-science book does. Most of these are written for someone who is both serious about the subject and already has a basic working knowledge of rock types and such. A few are even more advanced than that.

If you look for any of these, please keep two things in mind. One, as college texts they are expensive to buy new. I've bought just about all of them used. Two, as college texts they're often revised, so where I have a 4th edition, the current might be a 5th or 6th edition.

  • DEPOSITIONAL SYSTEMS: A GENETIC APPROACH TO SEDIMENTARY GEOLOGY
    Author: Davis, Richard A.
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: Prentice-Hall
    ISBN: 0-13-198960-X
    College text on sedimentary depositional systems and patterns.
  • EARTH SCIENCE, 5th ed.
    Author: Tarbuck/Lutgens
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Merrill Publishing
    ISBN: 0-675-20748-7
    "Earth science" is a general term for all the sciences that deal with the study of the Earth and its place in the universe. The earth sciences include geology, paleontology, oceanography, meteorology, and local astronomy. This text is a basic introduction to all the earth sciences, devoting two or three chapters to each one. I kept this text from a 'basic earth science' course in college; it's a very good introductory text, and requires little prior knowledge of the subjects covered.
  • EVOLUTION OF NORTH AMERICA, THE
    Author: King, Philip B.
    Copyright:1977
    Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-691-07960-9
    Methodical review of the geologic history of the North American continent, going north-south and east-west.
  • FACIES INTERPRETATION AND THE STRATIGRAPHIC RECORD
    Author: Hallam, A.
    Copyright:1981
    Publisher: WH Freeman & Co.
    ISBN: 0-7167-1291-1
    The facies of a rock or rock layer is its appearance, particularly those aspects of its appearance that let you distinguish it from other layers around it. This is a supplementary or secondary text on facies interpretation and what that appearance can tell you about the rock layer's history. I'm not sure if it's meant for upperclass or post-grad students, but either way it includes some heavy slogging.
  • FROM STONE TO STAR: A View of Modern Geology
    Author: Allegre, Claude
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-674-83867-X

  • GEOLOGY TODAY: Understanding Our Planet
    Author: Murck and Skinner
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
    ISBN: 0-471-16733-9

  • LIFE AS A GEOLOGICAL FORCE: Dynamics of the Earth
    Author: Westbroek, Peter
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: W. W. Norton
    ISBN: 0-393-02932-8

  • PHYSICAL GEOLOGY (7th Ed.)
    Author: Plummer and McGeary
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Wm. C. Brown
    ISBN: 0-697-26676-1
    Freshman college textbook on physical geology. Physical geology focuses mainly on geology in the here and now: descriptions and definitions of rocks and minerals, major geologic phenomena like earthquakes and volcanoes, etc. This is one of the best geology texts I have; it combines clear explanatory text with excellent photographs and diagrams. Accompanied by workbook and free Plate Tectonics CD-ROM.
  • PRINCIPLES OF SEDIMENTOLOGY
    Author: Friedman, Sanders
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
    ISBN: 0-471-75245-2
    Advanced geology text on sedimentology. Sedimentology is the study of sediments and sedimentary rocks: limestone, sandstone, siltstone, shale, and all the types in-between. This is an upperclass-level text on sedimentology; probably not a good choice for a casual reader.
  • PRINCIPLES OF SEDIMENTOLOGY AND STRATIGRAPHY
    Author: Boggs, Sam, Jr.
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: Merrill Publishing
    ISBN: 0-675-20487-9

  • SEDIMENTOGRAPHICA: A Photographic Atlas of Sedimentary Structrues
    Author: Ricci Luchi, Franco
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-231-10018-3

  • TALES OF THE EARTH
    Author: Charles Officer & Jake Page
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-19-509048-9

  • THE EARTH, THROUGH TIME, 4th ed.
    Author: Levin, Harold L.
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Saunders College
    ISBN: 0-03-098594-3
    Basic college text on history of Earth, geological and paleontological.
  • UNKNOWN EARTH: A HANDBOOK OF GEOLOGICAL ENIGMAS
    Author: Corliss, William
    Copyright:1980
    Publisher: Sourcebook Project
    ISBN: 0-915554-06-2
    A massive collection of papers on 'geological enigmas' of all sorts. Credibility is dubious -- some of the cites are from Creation Research Science Quarterly and other creationist magazines.

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