Geopedia: A Brief Compendium of Geologic Curiosities

Princeton Univ. May 2022. 200p. ISBN 9780691212579. $16.95. REF
The subtitle says it all—Bjornerud (geosciences and environmental studies, Lawrence Univ.; Timefulness) and graphic artist Hagerman have compiled a wonderfully quirky collection of “curiosities” that, collectively, detail the Earth’s transformation over eons and illustrate how our understanding of the planet has deepened through time. The 74 alphabetically organized entries explore everything from Acasta Gneiss (the oldest rocks found on Earth) to pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconiosis (lung disease from inhalation of volcanic ash) to thixotropy (quicksand). Entries range from one to five pages in length, and each includes syllabic spellings with whimsical headings (for amethyst, “purple haze”), historical information, etymology, and the occasional thought-provoking comment. Appendixes include a timescale, language origination of entry terms, lists of entries by topic and by geographic location, biographical references connecting people to related entries, and a bibliography. Similar titles, which tend to be most appropriate for science and geology students, concentrate on identifying rocks, minerals, and gems; examining landforms and geologic events; or offering a historical study of landform and sea floor development. The book could be improved by a detailed index and less jargon or by the addition of a glossary. One appendix is printed in landscape format, making it difficult to read in the ebook edition. Still, this is a charming work, chock-full of information.
VERDICT Will fascinate and delight nearly all readers but particularly word lovers, rock lovers, and geology hobbyists. Excellent ready reference and fun reading for high schoolers and undergraduates studying astronomy, geology, ecology, and environment, and for hobbyists of all ages.
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