LISTED: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act. Joe Roman. viii + 360 pp. Harvard University Press, 2011. $27.95.
I don’t recall exactly when or how I discovered Roadside Geology of Northern California, but it was some time in the mid-1970s, when I was a student in the Golden State. Since then I’ve accumulated numerous other volumes in the Roadside Geology series, and their availability has at times strongly influenced where vacations take me.
The Roadside Geology books are aimed not at rock collectors but at amateur geology enthusiasts. Written by geologists (mainly academics) for nonprofessionals, they are accurate and not overly dumbed down. Their aim is generally to put what you can see from the highway, or near the highway, in the context of the geological processes that formed the region. For me, they’ve long been associated with those magic words: road trip!
I discovered recently that the series has undergone a major transformation. When I came across a copy of the latest volume, Roadside Geology of Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. (Mountain Press, $24), by John Means, I eagerly opened it, to be greeted by—color! Most of the photographs and all of the illustrations—beautifully prepared by Matthew Moran and Suzanne Moran—are four-color throughout the book. The color makes the beauty of the rocks all the more evident and is vital to the geological maps that are included. This is an enhancement that I am more than happy to pay a few extra dollars for. (I’ve since learned that the Connecticut and Florida editions, which were published in the past few years, also have color.)
One of the places that the latest book’s road guides have me itching to visit the next time I find myself in the D.C. area is Great Falls, where highly erosion-resistant metagraywacke of the Mather Gorge Formation causes the Potomac River to plunge 60 feet in half a mile. Above, an exposure of the Devonian Brallier Formation along Fifteen Mile Creek in western Maryland reveals shale that was once plastic enough to be folded into compact anticlines.
Connect With Us:
Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.
Heather Olins, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, studies microbial ecology at deep sea hydrothermal vents with the help of Alvin, and shares her personal tribute to the submersible on these landmark occasions.
To view all multimedia content, click "Latest Multimedia"!
A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns,
and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.
News of book reviews published in
and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the
Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an
online profile, then sign up in the
My AmSci area.