2017 Advent Calendar / Advent calendar

Door 13 – Memory Books

Today’s blog, by geologist and science writer Nina Morgan, takes a trip down memory lane…


It’s easy to forget how much those of us of a certain age used to rely on the detailed information contained in the printed pages of the Geological Survey Sheet Memoirs and Regional Geology books to back up our mapping efforts.  Thanks to the BGS Open Geoscience website – a free service where you can download data and view the large numbers of maps, sections and publications at the click of a mouse – it’s possible to take a trip down memory lane.

At the local Oxfam bookshop where I work as a volunteer, I was recently confronted with a large donation of old Sheet Memoir and Regional Geology volumes. Also included were weighty tomes by, respectively, Archibald and James Geikie, and vol II of Gideon Mantell’s Wonders of Geology. When I sorted through the boxes the memories came flooding back. As a hard-up research student the idea of actually possessing my own copies of the volumes covering my field areas seemed like the height of unobtainable luxury. I referred to and cited these publications so often that many of the authors, including E.R. Shephard-Thorn, W.J. Arkell, John Smith Flett and T. Neville George, came to feel like familiar friends, although I never met them, and even then many were no longer alive.

When asked by the shop manager to suggest a reasonable asking price for these books, my first response was ‘invaluable’. Never mind the weeks spent camping and tramping out in all weathers with no back-up of any kind, memories of my field work days are now clothed in a golden glow. I felt an almost irresistible urge to buy them all to grace my own bookshelves. Nostalgia rules OK – but then practical reality kicked in!

Memories, it seems, are cheap. When I checked the various used book websites I found that the old sheet memoirs and Regional Geology volumes are generally offered for sale at prices less than £5, plus postage. The weighty tomes will set you back less than £15, plus postage. Books like these would make great Christmas presents for the geologists (sensu stricto) in your life . Email me [nina.morgan@cooptel.net] if you’d like to receive a list of the books available and prices. All proceeds to Oxfam. Here’s a chance to keep those memories alive, solve your Christmas shopping dilemmas and support a good cause, all at the same time!

  • Nina Morgan is a geologist and science writer based near Oxford. She writes the monthly Distant Thunder column for Geoscientist.

Geoadvent challenge update

Yesterday’s window featured the Lady Cave Anticline in Saundersfoot – part of the Amroth-Saundersfoot-Tenby Transect, Wales. Leave a comment identifying which plate tectonic story is represented by today’s window to join the great geoadvent challenge!

4 thoughts on “Door 13 – Memory Books

  1. Zechstein Reefs, North Sea, more specifically, Hawthorn Quarry on the Durham coast! Also, I really enjoyed today’s post, books have their own special kind of attraction to me!

  2. Zechstein Reefs, North Sea, more specifically, Hawthorn Quarry on the Durham coast! Also, I really enjoyed today’s post, books have their own special kind of attraction to me!

  3. Pingback: Door 24 – Quiz answers, challenge winners and a very merry Christmas! | Geological Society of London blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s