Recommended Geology Books

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Recommended Geology Books

Edited: Feb 22, 10:58am


Linked to LT List feature by clicking the Subheadings Title.

General Geology:

Annals of a Former World by John McPhee
Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey
Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth
Over the Mountains (An Aerial view of Geology)
Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth by Marcia Bjornerud
Rocks From Space by Richard O. Norton
Down the Great Unknown
Sand: The Never-Ending Story by Micheal Well
Geological History of Greenland by Neils Henriksen
For the Rock Record: Geologists on Intelligent Design by Jill S. Schneiderman and Warren D. Allmon
Smithsonian Rock And Gem
The Planet in a Pebble by Jan Zalasiewicz
Irons in the Fire by John Mcphee
The story of Earth : the first 4.5 billion years, from stardust to living planet by Robert M. Hazen
Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud


Oil Notes by by Rick Bass
The Prize the Epic Quest for Oil, Money, Power by Daniel Yergin
Last Boom by James Anthony Clark & Michael Thomas Halbouty


Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould
T. Rex and the crater of doom
The Crucible of Creation by Simon Conway Morris
Digging Dinosaurs by John R. Horner
The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert T. Bakker
Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway by Kirk Johnson
Hunting Dinosaurs by Louie Psihoyos
Islands in the Cosmos by Dale A. Russell
Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution by E. N. K. Clarkson
The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul
How the Earth Turned Green: A Brief 3.8 Billion-Year History of Plants by Joseph E. Armstrong
Islands in the Cosmos: The Evolution of Life on Land by Dale A. Russell
Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record by Michael J. Benton


Volcano Cowboys by Dick Thompson
Fire Under the Sea
Plate Tectonics
Shaping the Earth: Tectonics of Continents and Oceans
Encyclopedia of Volcanoes by Haraldur Sigurdsson
Colliding Continents: A Geological Exploration of the Himalaya, Karakoram, and Tibet by Mike Searle

Disaster/Epic Change:

After the Ice Age by EC Pielou
Noah's Flood by William Ryan & Walter Pitman
Disaster by the Bay by Paul Jeffers
A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
Bretz's Flood
Heaven and Earth Global Warming by Ian Plimer
Cascadia's Fault: The Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America by Jerry Thompson
Agents of Chaos by Stephen L Harris

Regional Geology:

The Geologic Story of Yosemite National Park
Geology of the Sierra Nevada
Prairie, Peak and Plateau: the Geology of the Colorado Plateau
The Colorado Plateau - a geologic history
Geology of Utah
Deepest Valley
Roadside Geology
Ontario Rocks: Three Billion Years of Environmental Change by Nick Eyles
Canada Rocks: The Geologic Journey by Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall
The Physiography of Southern Ontario, 3rd ed. by L. J. Chapman and D. F. Putnam
Shield Country Life and Times of the Oldest Piece of the Planet by Jamie Bastedo
Canadian Rockies Geology Road Tours by Ben Gadd
Handbook of the Canadian Rockies by Ben Gadd
Geologic History of Florida: Major Events that Formed the Sunshine State by Albert Hine

History of Geology:

The Man who Found Time
The Seashell on the Mountaintop
The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester
Revolutions in the Earth: James Hutton and the True Age of the World by Stephen Baxter
A History of Geology by Gabriel Gohau
Thinking about the Earth: A History of Ideas in Geology by David Oldroyd
Great Geological Controversies


A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
Susan Cummins Miller
Sarah Andrews
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Machine by Peter Adolphsen
Brummstein by Peter Adolphsen
The Stones Cry Out by Hikaru Okuizumi
Raptor Red by Robert Bakker
Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (added from the list)


Trilobite Poems
Possession by AS Byatt
Letters from Iceland by W.H. Auden (added from the list)


Earth by D.K. Publishing
Smithsonian Rock And Gem
Dictionary of Geological Terms
Earth Science Data by Paul Henderson
The Geoscience Handbook AGI Data Sheets Fourth Edition by J Douglas Walker


Morphology and Landscape by Harry Robinson
The Age of the Earth by Brent Dalrymple
Physical Geology: Earth Revealed
The Field Guide to Geology
Geochemistry: An Introduction by Francis Albarède

*Subject to change

Edited: Mar 4, 2007, 2:32pm

Here is a quick go. I might add more later.

non-fiction favorites
Annals of the Former World by John McPhee -- As listed before, maybe the best literary book on geology out there.
Oil Notes by Rick Bass -- Short essays on the authors oil company days
Wonderful Life Stephen Jay Gould - The Cambrian explosion through one formation (the Burgess Shale). IMO a must read.
The Prize by Daniel Yergin -- The book on the history of oil.

Fiction favorite with some geology
A River Runs Through it by Norman Maclean touches on the Missoula Lake floods.

Where the Sea Used to Be by Rick Bass -- a novel. A bit long and uneventful. But, there is a long elaborate geological history "written" by the dark character in the book that is quite fascinating.
Noah's Flood by William Ryan & Walter Pitman -- On how the filling of the Black Sea seems to be "Noah's" flood.
The Last Boom by James Anthonly Clark & Michael Thomas Halbouty -- on the discovery of the East-Tex Oil field
The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester -- on William Smith who made the world's first geology map (on England, of course). I didn't love it, though.

Found a few typo's I had to fix.

Feb 19, 2007, 10:35am

It occurs to me that as the starter of this topic I probably should have listed a few books myself.

Earth by D.K. Publishing -- More of a reference book about the whole Earth itself, not just the lithosphere, but it does have lots of pictures of minerals and rock samples taken from the Mithsonian collection.

Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey -- A book written for laymen but a good expiantion of the processes of the ever changing landscape.

I'll add more when I get the time (probably friday of this week ;P)

4naheim First Message
Edited: Feb 21, 2007, 7:38pm

One of my favorite geology-related books is Ecology of Fear by Mike Davis. It's a look a southern California and its relationship with natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, wild fire, etc. It's non-fiction, but a great read.

Disaster by the Bay by Paul Jeffers is another good non-fiction read. It's a description of the events associated with the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

Finally, Raptor Red by Robert Bakker is a fictional "day in the life of" story told from the point of view of a Utahraptor, a Late Cretaceous dinosaur. It's amusing.

Mar 3, 2007, 11:00pm

I thoroughly enjoyed The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester, even if Winchester is a bit too kind to William Smith.

I am trying to get through Earth : An intimate history but I find it a bit slow.

T. Rex and the crater of doom is an interesting read, it was one of the first "popular science" books I read in college.

It is very 'scholarly' and a bit slow to get through, but Hallam's Great Geological Controversies is incredible interesting. It has lots of good detail about some of the exciting debates (and exciting personalities) that shaped geology.

Mar 7, 2007, 7:11am

More to do with poetry than geology, but as a geology undergrad I rather enjoyed Possession by AS Byatt. She paints a great picture of her hero (a Victorian gentleman poet) who also has a thing for palaeontology and Charles Lyell.

Edited: Mar 7, 2007, 3:04pm

Speaking of poetry, there is a great book called Trilobite Poems, well it's more of a pamphlet than a book, but amusing nonetheless. My favorite poem is the one that outlines a horror movie starring trilobites -- a "Cambrian Park" sort of theme.

Mar 14, 2007, 2:25pm

I bought A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester which I'm reding now (he also wrote Krakatoa & The Map That Changed the World). He is a very good interpreter of science & a good story teller to boot! Vanye

Edited: Apr 1, 2007, 5:56pm

Finished The Map That Changed the World recently and loved it. Have to get around to his other works sometime. My principle interest is in the fossils that become part of the rocks, so Wonderful Life by Steven Jay Gould was an early find, but I was very disappointed in some aspects, so turned to The Crucible of Creation by Simon Conway Morris for a more believable take.

However, the book that turned me on to physical geography in the first place was my school textbook, Morphology and Landscape, by Harry Robinson. I often regret that the practicalities of boning up for a future career in computers led me astray: I really, really should have done physical geog. at Uni, and then gone into computers afterwards.

May 24, 2007, 8:43am

I recently read Revolutions in the Earth: James Hutton and the True Age of the World by Stephen Baxter, which was excellent, both as a portrait-biography of Hutton and a (brief) history of the state of geology at the time. I especially recommend it if Winchester's somewhat prolix style and proclivity to hagiography and overexaggeration gets on your nerves! Not saying that's a bad thing, but I found Baxter's rather more brusque and concise style refreshing.

I also recently raced through T. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez, in less than two days, which was *fantastic*. Can't recommend that enough!

Jun 8, 2007, 2:04pm

A Crack in the Edge of the World ect. ... By Simon Winchester Another great one by Mr. Winchester.

Sep 4, 2007, 11:10pm

If anyone is still following this group, I just finished reading Richard Fortey's Earth: An Intimate History. It was slow, but I enjoyed, much of it a lot. I wrote a review where compared it to Mcphee's Annals of the Former World.

Sep 11, 2007, 3:56pm

I must admit that I couldn't get through Richard Fortey's Earth and eventually decided to put it down. Some parts of it were good, but I felt as though I was just pushing myself to finish it.

Edited: Sep 11, 2007, 10:55pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 11, 2007, 11:37pm

EncompassedRunner: Go see atomicmutant, he'll set you straight. Also, see Noah's Flood.

MissElliot: So, what was it that made Fortey's book so difficult to read? I really can't place my finger on it. I thought there were really great parts. But the Hawaii section and some others were just painful to work through. Not sure why, though.

Sep 12, 2007, 2:22am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Sep 30, 2007, 8:34am

I didn't finish Fortey's book either. Not sure why, but he just seemed to go on and on without going into any detail. I felt like he was paid for the number of pages he churned up.

I'm very disappointed to see young-earth "nonfiction" books listed here. This is a geology group, not a religion group. Incidentally, I have just finished reading Brent Dalrymple's The Age of the Earth, which is an excellent and thorough exposition of the science beyond geochronology and its particular application to the age of the planet. It's accessible enough to anyone genuinely interested in what has been found out by the actual research of thousands of scientists (almost none of them ideologues, all of them honest and intelligent people). I strongly recommend it.

Also recently read Volcano Cowboys by Dick Thompson, which is fabulous and exciting! It focuses in detail on St Helens (1980) and Pinatubo (1991) and developments in between.

Nov 18, 2007, 6:43pm

#6 There was an interesting bit in Possession about a piece of jewelry acquired during the tryst carved from stone that was unique to a certain area of England that I believe was Blackpool. Anybody remember this and the type of stone?

Dec 16, 2007, 12:48pm

What would be a good book for a 13 year old who thinks he might want to be a geologist? He picks up rocks and has read bits and pieces on geology. I was considering Teaching Company's lectures on geology, but it's no longer on sale. Recommendations appreciated!

Dec 16, 2007, 1:40pm

#19 Margd,

Someone probably has a good answer to this. I wish I did, but I never thought about geology before my college 101 class. The best intro for an adult are the John McPhee books. I don't have any experience with young adult focused geology books and no ideas that compare to that Teaching Company set (which looks really nice.. amazon has one copy herefor $140..pricey!). So, just waving my hands...

1. Finding more places to get his hands on rocks certainly beats any book.

2. The second best thing might be a book on something he can actually see. So, anything on geology (or geography) local to you, including what's in your local natural history museum.

3. Smithsonian Rock And Gem. I own this, and it's wonderful. Beautiful colors, tons of detail all major mineral groups, also general rock summaries.

Just entertainment ideas:
-Planet Earth DVD's
-Holiday coffee table type books? My local Costco had some pricey ones on geology and related theme - I want them!


Edited: Dec 20, 2007, 5:00pm


When I was a little older than 13, I read Digging Dinosaurs by John R. Horner and The Dinosaur Heresies (a rather lengthy tome) by Robert T. Bakker. Both of these reflect my bias towards paleontology, but if he's interested in science, he should like them. Also, Bully for Brontosaurus by Stephen Jay Gould and Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson are collections of essays that have appeared in Natural History Magazine. Again, neither is focused on general geology, but both are relevant and accessible for young readers. National Geographic magazine periodically has good geology articles, too.

You may also want to try the Roadside Geology/Geology Underfoot book series (Mountain Press). I think there are 28 states covered now. If there is a university library nearby, they likely have some local geology guides. Good luck, and let us know what you find.

Jan 1, 2008, 7:44pm

On sale ($99, down from regular price of $374.95) until 31 January at, the DVD course "The Nature of Earth: An Introduction to Geology." Our (now) 14YO son, his parents, and Grandpa are enjoying son's Christmas/birthday copy (courtesy Grandpa!).

(Also on sale this month--a number of other science and mathematics courses.)

Feb 23, 2008, 12:34pm

Some good geology mysteries with female sleuths:

Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series: Anna Pigeon is a park ranger in various US National Parks where there is always a murder to solve. The first book is Track of the Cat, there are 13 Anna Pigeon books so far and the 14th, Winter Study is coming out in April.

Sarah Andrews' Em Hansen series: Em Hansen is a geologist who ends up helping with a variety of mysteries by contributing geologic forensic evidence and interpretation. The settings vary across the geologic disciplines - oil to environmental - etc. The first book in the series is Tensleep and the 10th (released Aug 2007) is In Cold Pursuit.

Susan Cummins Miller has 4 mystery books so far following the geology career (student into career) of Frankie MacFarlane. The book titles are: Death Assemblage, Detatchment Fault, Quarry, and Hoodoo.

Hmm, sorry not all of the titles are linked by touchstones. Those not linked did not come up correctly and I couldn't get the "other" choice to work.

Edited: Jun 20, 2008, 5:52pm

Definitely all the John McPhee, and I remember especially enjoying Basin and Range, but maybe that's because it's my backyard (I live in Bishop, California, the Eastern Sierra and western edge of the Great Basin).

Lots of Stephen Jay Gould relates to Geology - I have read so many, though, I don't remember which ones. The one where he tells the story of Alfred Wegener and "Continental Drift" and Plate Tectonics is great and I often use examples from it to educate people about how science works - though the general public thinks the "evidence" for plate tectonics that Wegener found is all you need, Gould explains the whole process of scientific thought and discovery very clearly. I also remember one where he talked about Geologic time... I love him - I should re-read these since I can't remember them! I don't think I've read Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle, though, and clearly I should!!

I tend to read site-specific geology books, like King Huber on Yosemite - The Geologic Story of Yosemite National Park is excellent, and also Geology of the Sierra Nevada, among others. I also have read Prairie, Peak and Plateau: the Geology of the Colorado Plateau, The Colorado Plateau - a geologic history and Geology of Utah (I'm not sure if the touchstone is the right one - I'll have to go investigate further and revise as necessary). And of course the Roadside Geology guides to various places. I just bought Deepest Valley about my big backyard, and it includes some geology as well. I live in a hotbed of great geology here - nestled between Death Valley and the Sierra Nevada! Oh, I'm pretty sure I have books on Death Valley Geology somewhere, too... :)

Edited: Jun 24, 2008, 4:33pm

#19 margd,

The recommendations of dchaikin and naheim sound good to me. I have a 12 year old nephew who I buy geology books for and you pretty much just have to go to the adult level, I've found. Good basic Geology 101 texts, a text called Physical Geology: Earth Revealed and its accompanying PBS series by the same name, definitely the Smithsonian rocks and minerals guide. I also bought my nephew a hand lens from the Miners Catalog ( and gave him some rock samples that I had collected on various field trips. You can also buy rock samples from Miners.

Edited book title again.

Jun 24, 2008, 4:30pm

Just thought of another suggestion: not really geology per se, but an orienteering guide and a compass is a good way to develop a sense of direction and spatial relationships. I bought my nephew a guide by Bjorn Kjellstrom ("Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook") that I thought would be easy enough for him to learn from and easy enough for his parents to understand so they can help him.

Jun 24, 2008, 4:49pm

Most of my formal geology books are old textbooks and probably out of date (Kummel's History of the Earth has one paragraph on continental drift).

I'm quite fond of the Roadside Geology of ... series; I'm not sure how suitable they would be for young people, though. If I remember my own childhood correctly, at a young age you're more interested in fine details - individual fossils, mineral crystals, etc. - and less in the "big picture".

Jun 24, 2008, 5:19pm

OK, I'm going to throw out some book titles, but this is purely spontaneous:

Journalist authors: John McPhee's Assembling California and Annals of the Former World; Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert.

Scientist authors: Roadside Geology series; Geology Underfoot series; pretty much anything Stephen Jay Gould, but especially Wonderful Life; John R. Horner; Robert T. Bakker; oh, I know I'm forgetting some real winners here, so I'll come back.

For the coffee table: Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth, Michael Collier's Over the Mountains (An Aerial view of Geology), pretty much anything by or about Ansel Adams.

Jun 24, 2008, 7:02pm

#28 side note: Annals of the Former World includes Assembling California. It's a compilation of McPhee's four geology books, plus an extra chapter.

Jun 24, 2008, 9:10pm

Whoops - thanks. Guess I need to unpack my non-academic books one of these days and revisit them. :)

Aug 14, 2008, 10:38am

Hey everybody,

I have a strange request for ya'll.

I was wondering if you guys could recommend a Geochemistry and Geomorphology textbook. I would really like to take these classes, but they conflict with the classes I need to take in order to graduate. My desire to graduate this semester is much greater than my desire to take either of these two classes.

So if any of you have a recomendation for either text, that I can easily be used to self teach myself it would be much appreciated.


Edited: Aug 14, 2008, 6:16pm

The Geomorph text i have from college, which was admittidally(sp?) a long time ago, is Geomorphology by Arthur L. Bloom; i do not know if it has been updated by the author or others.

There is one more of John McPhee's books no one has mentioned but which i found very informative The Control of Nature which dealt w/various attempts by humans to just that, i.e. control nature. Some of those attempts being more successful than others they include the Army Corps' work on the Mississippi & the 'flood control' people in the LA area who seek to keep California's climate & geology from wiping the human poulation off of the map! It is very inteesting reading. John McPhee is very good at making Geology accessible to everybody. 8^)

Edited by author to correct silly spelling mistake.

Aug 22, 2008, 1:56am

I also used Bloom's text fairly recently and enjoyed it. For geochem, it depends on the field of geochem you're interested in. For stable isotopes, I used Sharp (sorry, only remember last names, and books are in boxes in the attic); for aqueous, I used Langmuir; I think there are also some decent general geochem texts out there, but I haven't used any. Hope that helps.

Dec 2, 2008, 11:34pm

I'd like to do some proselytizing here for Trilobites of New York: An Illustrated Guide (pesky touchstone not working...):

The text is pitched at a perfect level for the serious student, the science is laid out in detail, the book is illustrated with beautiful photographs: this is just a sterling example of what a geology book can be.

(And best of all, it's just been remaindered, so it's available for about $10 if you shop around for it....)

Edited: Jan 1, 2009, 10:55pm

I finally got and read Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth by Marcia Bjornerud.

While more pop-Geology than anything else, she gives a good general overview of Earth history, nothing I didn't already know, but I still enjoyed reading it over again. I was blown away at her ability to convey how geologist think (It's hard to get into discussions with the neighbors about earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, supervolcanoes, tsunamis without sounding callous and overly excited at the same time) and why we get excited over things like rip-up clasts sandwiched between massive layers Micritic limestones. My girlfriend read it in a few days and now understands how my uncle and I can get into 3-hour conversations about permeabilities and there meanings to our respective fields.

I think I'll give this book to my parents next.

Jan 5, 2009, 2:07am

Just going to add a few books to the list:

Dictionary of Geological Terms - Obviously a reference book, but helpful to have around when reading any of the other books mentioned.
Fire Under the Sea - Pretty interesting look at the discovery and evolving science of underwater vents. A lot of info on other aspects of geology. Might be kind of dated.
Irons in the Fire - Forensic geology essay qualifies this book, but truthfully, if Annals of the Former World didn't make you want to read anything written by John McPhee, I'm surprised.
The Man who Found Time - Interesting look at Hutton's life. Don't read this one for any science.
Plate Tectonics - Incredibly fascinating look at the evolution of the plate tectonics theory. Highly recommended, but I imagine most people wouldn't finish it.
The Seashell on the Mountaintop - Biography of Nicolaus Steno. Reading this makes me agree with Gould that Steno was actually the father of geology. Again, don't read for scientific knowledge.

Gotta mention Volcano Cowboys again. Very interesting. I liked Krakatoa and The Map That Changed the World, but Simon Winchester does sometimes (frequently?) drag out the story, seemingly to add pages.

Of course, if you only ever read one book about geology ever, it has to be Annals of the Former World.

May 3, 2009, 12:44pm

'allo les 'gangue'
Many thanks for a higher TBR pile, time to try and return the favor.

Several non-fiction titles written by professors with the public in mind, or masterful displays of knowledge, verve and lucidness...

Rocks From Space by Richard O. Norton

After the Ice Age by EC Pielou

I can also recommend any number of mineralogy and gemmology titles if anyone is interested or stop by and visit.

May 5, 2009, 12:52pm

Down the Great Unknown is about the Powell Expedition on the Colorado River. Bretz's Flood is about J Harlen Bretz & his fight to gain acceptance for his assertion that the Channeled Scablands were created by a flood! 8^)

May 5, 2009, 1:39pm

I just got Shaping the Earth: Tectonics of Continents and Oceans, a SciAm book; it's a very good introduction to tectonics. I knew a lot of the material already, but it's handy to have so much of it in one place.

May 5, 2009, 8:58pm

Actually, that would be handy, How in depth does it go? Cover any tectonic geomorph?

May 6, 2009, 12:20am

It has articles on spreading centers and how they shift, and on various terranes, and where they came from, as well as several types of orogeny.

Edited: Oct 26, 2009, 3:24am

Margd: No question, I would give him The Field Guide to Geology, by David Lambert & the Diagram Group. I have the 1998 edition, published in the U.S. by Facts on File ($15 pb); there is a 2006 edition listed in LibrThing & at; the School Library Journal review amazon includes makes some interesting points though, and doesn't praise it overly (they & Amazon's citizen reviews give some other book suggestions). But SLJ is reviewing for school librarians, who have to support curricula.

Visual-info-oriented (that's Diagram Group's style), tho printed in several colors of inks instead of full color. It uses everything from pen & ink drawings to reproductions from Agricola in the 1500s, old nat'l history book engravings, a few photos, and conveys a lot of information in the text. Lots of interesting cross-sections, showing the patterns under the surface of the earth. A great deal more about geology than about geologists...

Come to think of it, kids used to modern school textbooks, which are so colorpix-crammed, might be underwhelmed at first. Maybe it helps to be from the Mesozoic era, like some of us...

Ideally you could see this book via your local library before committing to buy it. This one book alone may not feed all his interests; SLJ makes a good point, that photos, incl. aerial photos, are the other part of the visual interest of geology, and also need to be represented. (But get another book or two for that).
No, I haven't talked myself out of liking it; I'd hand it to any neophyte in a second. For me, this book makes the hidden wonder clear, sez I. It's not a text, it's a taste!

Oct 26, 2009, 12:45pm

I own The field Guide to Geology & love it as it puts me in mind of some of the very old Geology texts such as Leet, Judson, et al which had such great diagrams in them! So many concepts in Geology will are very difficult for a new student to recognize in the field if they have not seen good diagrams accompanied by clear definitions as well as clear photos/slides in the classroom before the embark on a field trip. Even my Geomorph' text Geomorphology has many wonderful diagrams & is a very early edition by Arthur L. Bloom (1978) since i graduated from college in 1987 this is no surprise but the diagrams are still very informative, So i certainly concur that The Field Guide is a great reference. 8^)

Edited: Nov 13, 2009, 6:42pm

Well now there is an actual List of sorts.

If I have a book in an incorrect section or a touchstone not linking to the right book then please speak up.

Nov 13, 2009, 10:59pm

Cool list. I've starred this thread.

Nov 13, 2009, 11:43pm

stretch - Fantastic! Thanks for putting that together.

Edited: Nov 17, 2009, 7:46am

As a non-professional, I've been mainly a "lurker" on this forum, but this list is a wonderful idea.

The following books may be mainly of regional interest, but they are excellent:

Ontario Rocks : Three Billion Years of Environmental Change / by Nick Eyles. Markham, ON : Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.

Canada Rocks : The Geologic Journey / by Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall. Markham, ON : Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2007.

And this last one may be getting a little dated now, but it's still a wonderful reference for understanding the glacial landforms all around us here in southern Ontario:

The Physiography of Southern Ontario, 3rd ed. / by L. J. Chapman and D. F. Putnam. Toronto : Ontario Geological Survey, 1984.

Nick Eyles is a professor of Geology at the University of Toronto.

Lyman Chapman formerly worked at the Ontario Research Foundation.

Edited to correct my typing

Edited: Mar 22, 2010, 6:27pm

Not so much a book per say but I subscribe to EARTH, a monthly magazine published by The American Geological Institute (AGI),covers current news on research and trends in Earth, environment, and energy issues.

Mar 22, 2010, 8:11pm

>48 stretch:

I used to get an Earth magazine put out by Kalmbach Publishing about ten years ago, and it was great (until it ceased publication).

I assume this is a new publication, rather than a reincarnation of the old one.

How do you like it?

Mar 22, 2010, 8:35pm

I don't know if it''s the same as the Kalmbach Publishing. I'm little fuzzy on the history of both publications. Up until September last year Earth was called Geotimes. At about that time it was revamped and re-branded.

They cover the same kind of material. There are short news briefs on current and future research, a couple of in depth articles covering a diverse range of topics ranging form water conservation to geo-archeology. There is always a section on energy and mineral exploration. There are even a few astro-geology articles from time to time.

I find the short news briefs to be informative and lead to all kinds of independent wanderings. The in depth articles don't feel dumb downed to reach the LCD but not so jargon laden that it's impossible to follow by folks not in the know. The magazine is well laid out and is of exceptionally high quality especially for institution/scientific organization and not a full time publisher. Really I'm not doing the magazine justice but I really like it and wish I had time to read it before the next one arrives.

I think you can have a free sample of the magazine emailed for the site to get a better feel for the magazine.

Edited: Mar 22, 2010, 10:56pm

>31 stretch: stretch The List = wow
Geochemistry an Introduction
by Francis Albarede author won't load, dagnabit...
It may be what you want, if not too late.

>47 geophile: geophile
A few more Canadian, eh? titles, just for our maple flavour...
Shield Country Life and Times of the Oldest Piece of the Planet by Jamie Bastedo
Canadian Rockies Geology Road Tours by Ben Gadd but I still like his older and more generic Handbook of the Canadian Rockies by Ben Gadd.

For more DinoRama
Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway by Kirk Johnson for all things USA versus the globetrotter Hunting Dinosaurs by Louie Psihoyos

I have just finished a beeooful new synthesis Islands in the Cosmos by Dale A. Russell a much politer and far more thorough Earth Abides than the double-barrelled Heaven and Earth Global Warming by Ian Plimer...

With touchystones all sort of floating downstream,

Mar 23, 2010, 11:40am

>Subarticmike I actually went with a slightly older edition of that Geochem book in the end from a friend of mine. It is an excellent resource.

I'm not sure all your tochstones in the "list" are correct, actually a lot of those touchstones aren't linking to the right book. I'll fix them when I have more free time this weekend.

By the way, Thanks everybody for your suggestions.

Edited: Jun 20, 2010, 10:22am

I'll second The Seashell on the Mountaintop by Alan Cutler

I thought that it was not only a good biography of the founding father of geology (Nicolaus Steno) but also an excellent history of the science of geology from the earlier Greeks to the beginnings of the Enlightenment.

Aug 9, 2010, 3:12pm

Being somewhat of an arenophile, because of my background as a Geotechnical Engineering Technician, I recently read Sand: The Never-Ending Story by Michael Welland and found it to quite interesting and informative. His ending w/ future scenarios are thought provoking.
I believe this is worth adding to the list.

Aug 15, 2010, 10:34am

>54 powderriver:. Added thanks for the recommendation. Touchstone isn't working of course, I'll fix that hopefully in the near future.

Aug 15, 2010, 2:25pm

The new "Earth" is an enhanced redesign of "Geotimes" which has been published by the American Geological Institute for many years. Geotimes was more of a newsletter for professional geologists with some general interest articles. Earth is more comprehensive, but still includes teh pressional association news along with more long articles.

Aug 15, 2010, 2:48pm

I was a subscriber of "Geotimes" just before the name switch, but aside from that I love "Earth" for all of the general articles and news from fields I only know very little about. From my limited experience with the magazine I've seen very little drop off in quality while expanding into non-traditional areas.

Oct 30, 2010, 11:00pm

Hi Stretch
This thread's been quiet. Surely a few more textbooks and planetary geology in here.

Life in the Cosmos is paleontology (all life)
not disaster/extinction

Here's a few more titles.
Encyclopedia of Volcanoes by Haraldur Sigurdsson editor, hhm -not- the touchstone with earthquakes that comes up, this one's all about lava.
Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution by E. N. K. Clarkson a textbook, guess which side of the pond.
The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul
cheers from the tundra

Nov 4, 2010, 10:44am

Thanks for the correction and I've updated the list. Seems to have had a failure of touchstones which I'll fix when I have more time.

Nov 10, 2011, 7:02pm

It certainly been a while sense this thread was updated, so I'm going to add two fictional books to the list:

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson - A science fiction novel dealing with the colonization and terraforming of Mars. Lots of big ideas and lots of desert geology in the early chapters. Actually filled some holes in my desert geology knowledge, thanks to not be familar with some of the geologic vocabulary Robinson choose to use, so big plus there.

Machine by Peter Adolphsen - A story that follows a drop of oil from formation in the Eocence to its final combustion in 70's Ford Pinto. Again the geology is mostly up front, but Adolphsen uses this drop to explore Chaos Theory through the interactions this one drop has with the people who aim to harness its energy. I thought it was really good stuff for such a small book, only 85 pages.

Nov 11, 2011, 4:00pm

Thx! stretch for restarting this plugged up volcano.
I'm adding Red Mars to my fetch list.

Reference could be another section of The List, like say the AGI, Penguin and Collins geology dictionaries.
If you go thataway, here are two handbooks
The Cambridge Handbook of Earth Science Data by Paul Henderson
The Geoscience Handbook AGI Data Sheets Fourth Edition by J Douglas Walker

Geological History of Greenland by Neils Henriksen would fall under Regional Geology unless I can induce you towards General Geology. It's a thorough summation of Earth evolution drawing on Henricksen's 40 year career with the marvellous 3D geology in the fjiords of Greenland. The photos are fab. The text of the English edition is great.

Nov 11, 2011, 6:45pm

This thread and group have been dormant for far to long.

The list has been updated with a new and exciting reference section!

I defer to your knowledge on the Geological History of Greenland, which sounds inclusive enough to be included in general geology. It also happens to sound very interesting, I'll have to check it out at some point if nothing else for than the 3D models.

Sep 5, 2012, 6:31pm

Got a a couple of New books to add to the list:

The Stones Cry Out - a Japanese solider finds comfort in collecting and cataloging rocks after the horrors of serving in WWII. Most romantic description of optical mineralogy I have ever come across.
Brummstein - Like Machine it's a very short book about the lives of people who come in connect with a humming stone. Not as good as following the historical path of a drop of oil, but still a good read.

General Reference:
For the Rock Record - An anthology of practicing geologist rebuttal to Intelligent Design and Creationist. Lots of fossil record stuff and a bit of pholosphy. Lot of great stuff here.

Edited: Sep 5, 2012, 7:07pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 23, 2012, 8:52am

Has anyone heard of Jan Zalasiewicz? He has written a cracking book called 'The planet in a pebble' that traces how, where and when the different ingredients in a normal beach pebble actually came together - a thoroughly boggling book...

Edited: Sep 24, 2012, 2:42pm

I have his other book on geology The Earth after Us still haven't read that though and have heard good things about The Planet in a Pebble, I shall add it to the General the section.

Edited: Feb 4, 2013, 1:09am

This thread has been pretty quiet lately! I recently read Cascadia's Fault and would recommend it. The author seems to have done his homework, and is able to present the information in a very readable way. It would fit into either the Volcanoes/Tectonics or Disaster/Epic change sections above.

Feb 5, 2013, 2:37pm

Yes we have been quite slow as of late.

I'll add your book to the list momentarily once a I down where it should go. I have two new books to add and a new subject: History of Geology

Thinking About the Earth: A History of Ideas in Geology by David Oldroyd & A History of Geology by Gabriel Gohau

Both these books are through compelling histories, but there differences and geared to for different audiences.

A History of Geology is more or less the 30,000 feet version. Gohau was not as concerned with the minutiae and details of geology, as he is with the larger trends and major movements. The language is easy to understand and Gohau explains the geologic words not in the familiar vernacular of the lay person. There is however, a pretty strong European bias, you won't find very many names of folks outside of Continental Europe in this book. And at times Gohau downplays the contributions of Geologist outside of Europe to build up some of the lesser known or forgotten French and German scientist, which is something of a problem considering that places like Britain, the United States, Japan, and Australia are some the most important centers for geologic thinking of the 20th and 21st centuries. But sense Gohau is more concerned with the big picture, his Europe centric views are not as big of a problem as they sound. This is the perfectly serviceable introduction for those that might be interested in the history of a (I think) fascinating science.

Thinking About the Earth is in a different league. Oldroyd is concerned with the minutiae and the reader will be inundated with the names of not so famous scientist and thinkers that pushed the earliest beginnings of a collection speculative notions to the rigorous science of today. The names and terminology Oldroyd uses can be overwhelming if the reader is not well versed in geology. The writing is more academic than a History of Geology, which doesn't make it any easier as a read, but the effort is worth it. Thinking About the Earth is detailed and comprehensive in its coverage, it's very well possible to come away with a complete understanding of evolution of geology. This is a must have for any student of the history of science or geology. I recommend this to geologist and brave readers with a good dictionary or access to wikipedia.

Thinking About the Earth second to last chapter deals with what Oldroyd thinks are the next big thing in Earth Science, including the Gaia hypothesis of a self regulating Earth. Which seems like a good metaphor, but I can't see this becoming anything like a scientific theory in the near future. Otherwise Oldroyd doesn't delve into too much speculation and fringe ideas.

Apr 25, 2013, 12:56am

I have just finished reading Bretz's Floods which is about the Geology of the area where I live, the Channeled Scablands of the Columbia Plateau & it's interpretation by J Harlen Bretz who was vilified much as Alfred Wegener was for his theory of Plate Tectonics. This area has now been designated a National Geological Trail by the Congress. They actually did something-hard as it is to believe!

It is a fascinating look at a scientist doing science & battling his detractors. Bretz stuck to his guns & lived to see the acceptance of his theory unlike Wegener who died before Plate Tectonics became generally accepted in the scientific world. I reccomend this book very enthusastically.
Bonnie Connel

Apr 25, 2013, 11:34pm

<70 - Sounds interesting, but your touchstone goes to a different book.

Apr 26, 2013, 12:53am

For the touchstone: Bretz's Flood. It looks good.

Edited: Apr 26, 2013, 8:36pm

A few Changes to the list:

1. I moved a couple books from general geology of history of geology since that seemed to be a better fit. Also, fixed a number of touchstones.

B. More exciting news is that most of the Subheadings are now lists in the LT List universe. I'm not sure how lists work exactly, but I think these should be setup so that anyone can add to them. I haven't created a list for reference, text, or the regional books yet, not 100% sure if these should be made one list or if they should be individual lists like the rest or if they are needed at all. As always please let me know if you see any mistakes or corrections.

I will continue to update the master list.

Apr 26, 2013, 8:44pm

>70 Vanye: Thanks for the mention of the book. I'm finishing up Macdougall's Frozen Earth which has a whole chapter on Bretz.

Edited: Apr 28, 2013, 10:38pm

Bretz and glacial Lake Missoula has a chapter in Agents of Chaos by Stephen L. Harris.
I wish his thorough 1990 look at earthquake, volcanic and glacial disaster-prone US of A would see an update at the country, continent and global scale.

Apr 28, 2013, 5:22pm

Agents of Chaos link by subarticmike go to a star war tale. Have to go through the author link to get to the right one.
thought I'd pass it on

Apr 28, 2013, 10:39pm

thwarted by the Dark Side, thanks for the heads-up powderriver.

Apr 29, 2013, 7:25am

Actually while I was going through the touchstones in the list, they kicked me over to a number of cheesy romance novels. A Star Wars book is something of an upgrade. Nice part about LT lists is that there are no touchstone issues.

May 18, 2013, 8:58pm

I'll poke this list again because I may be going on a road trip with two earth scientists soon. We're going to hike and study rocks, and while I can hike I want to pretend I know a little bit else of what's going on.

I'm definitely soaking in the recommendations, if anybody has other suggestions or a recommended reading order I'd appreciate it!

May 19, 2013, 10:16am

Where will you be hiking?

May 19, 2013, 10:54am

ditto #79?

May 19, 2013, 8:11pm

Well it's kind of cliche but if you are just starting an interest in geology yo can't go wrong with John McPhee's Annals of a Former World. Which is a geological tour of the United States following I-80 from the East coast to the West coast. Covers a lot of ground and geology, but like all works by McPhee it's also a series of profiles of Geologist that work the areas covered in the this book. The nice part of this book is that it's really a collection of five books: Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, Assembling California, and Crossing the Craton. each can be read as a stand alone book and be read as you cross or tour through the various terrains of this country.

Another book I would recommend is one I'm currently reading Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains. It's focus is relating the geology of the west in an easily digestible manner that can be quite funny at times (if you like geology humor that is). Told by geologist you can get a real comprehensive understanding of the big picture and how the west came together. I find it to be very readable for something written by a professional geologist.

Other than these two books it is a bit of a choose your own adventure. All depends on what strikes your interest and how much you want to learn about certain fields. Really this list is just a staring point and is by no means comprehensive.

I would also recommend a Roadside Geology guide book for your individual state or states you plan on visiting. Nothing makes up for a bit of field observations to truly understand the geology mentioned in these books. Geology is very much an observational science and nothing can substitute a field trip or two. A good rock, mineral, and fossil identification book is not a bad idea either. Something like the Smithsonian Rock And Gem.

Edited: May 19, 2013, 9:02pm

Edited: Mar 16, 2015, 9:04pm

Apr 7, 2015, 3:29pm

Super I'll add them to the lists. Thanks.

May 8, 2020, 12:02pm

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud

In Tunefulness, Marcia Bjornerud makes an impassioned and eloquent argument for developing a poly-temporal worldview of time is one of Bjornerud’s objectives. A concept she calls Timefulness. Bjornerud is cautious to avoid the trap timelessness that so many geologist fall into. She contends that timelessness falsely invokes a sense of permanency and sterile aspiration, when the Earth in fact is dynamic and in a constant never ending state of change. That understanding timefulness better equips scientist to tackle the larger philosophical and practical questions posed by climate change. And that the practices of close reading and spatial visualization in geology provides material records that have documented many changes of our planet. Something that human beings are not been able to witness or experience. It is crucial that geologists take a more active role in public discourse to encourage the public to think more deeply about Earth’s multiple past and future iterations. She makes a compiling case that "fathoming deep is geology's greatest contribution to humanity".

It's a hopelessly romantic book, but If nothing else she has been able to articulate something I have found so difficult to explain. Rocks to a geologist aren't nouns they are verbs. They have stories to tell about the past and the future.

Read the first chapter it's worth it!