These are my top 5 popular geology books for 2015, including all branches of geology, from tectonics to minerals, and geology in society and human history. Personal reviews available on request!
See the rest of this year’s book recommendations here!
In Pyrite, geochemist and author David Rickard blends basic science and historical narrative to describe the many unique ways pyrite is integral to our world. He explains the basic science of oxidation, showing us why the mineral looks like gold, and inspects death zones of present oceans where pyrite-related hydrogen sulfide destroys oxygen in the waters. Rickard analyzes pyrite’s role in manufacturing sulfuric acid and discusses the significant appearance of the mineral in literature, history, and the development of societies. The mineral’s influence extends from human evolution and culture, through science and industry, to our understanding of ancient, modern, and future earth environments. Energetic and accessible, Pyrite is the first book to show readers the history and science of a mineral that helped make the modern world.
Among the rarest things on earth, meteorites carry an air of mystery and drama while having left a pervasive, outsized mark on our planet and civilization. In Meteorite, Maria Golia tells the long history of our engagement with these sky-born space rocks. Arriving amid thunderous blasts and flame-streaked skies, meteorites were once thought to be messengers from the gods. Worshipped in the past, now scrutinized with equal zeal by scientists, meteorites helped sculpt Earth’s features and have shaped our understanding of the planet’s origins. Prized for their outlandish qualities, meteorites are a collectible and a commodity, objects of art and artists’ desires and a literary muse; and ‘meteorite hunting’ is an adventurous, lucrative profession for some and an addictive hobby for thousands of others.
The cataclysm that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79 continues to fascinate nearly two thousand years later. Darley’s meditation on a powerful natural wonder touches on pagan beliefs, vulcanology, and travel writing, as it sifts through the ashes of Vesuvius to expose changes in our understanding of cultural and natural environments.
Plate tectonics now explains much of the structure and phenomena we see today: how oceans form, widen, and disappear; why earthquakes and volcanoes are found in distinct zones which follow plate boundaries; how the great mountain ranges of the world were built. The impact of plate tectonics is studied closely as these processes continue: the Himalaya continues to grow, the Atlantic is widening, and new oceans are forming. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Molnar provides a succinct and authoritative account of the nature and mechanisms of plate tectonics and its impact on our understanding of Earth.
Rocks, Gems, and Minerals is a field guide to more than 100 of the most common and sought-after rocks, gems, and minerals hidden throughout North America. Conveniently sized to fit in your pocket and featuring full-color, detailed photographs, this informative guide makes it easy to identify rocks in your backyard and beyond. Also included is an introduction that covers fundamental geology information and interesting facts. This is the essential source when you’re out in the field, both informative and beautiful to peruse.