17 August 2015

Geology Underfoot in Western Washington, by Dave Tucker

Posted by Callan Bentley

uw I’m grateful to Mountain Press for sending me copies of all of their new books. There are some terrific volumes that have arrived in my mailbox over the past year, and I feel guilty for not reviewing more of them. But when I upwrapped this one, I was struck by two things:

1) The author is a geoblogger, and a prolific one. Dave Tucker writes Northwest Geology Field Trips, and apparently that effort led to the authorship of this book. That piqued my interest.

2) The cover image is an extraordinary image of Mount Rainier sending a lahar down to Puget Sound – beautifully rendered and as clear a blend of geoscience and art as I have ever seen.

So I read it.

The website seems like an incredible resource for western Washington geology, and the book is the same. There are some really amazing sites detailed in the book – places I would love to see. Mr. Tucker writes about them very clearly and compellingly. I read it cover to cover and learned a lot. It’s beautifully produced, with high quality graphics and color photography, and the analogies are excellent.

The one thing that drives me bonkers about the website is the ‘stamping’ of all the photos with an inelegant source ‘watermark’ (example). I understand why Mr. Tucker does that – internet plagiarism is rampant and he’s only being proactive in protecting his imagery – but it’s such an ugly way of claiming one’s photos as one’s own. To the aesthetically-inclined eye,¬† the watermark really distracts from the geologic content of the imagery, rendering the photo less useful than it would have otherwise been. To me, it really gets in the way.

That’s not the case for the book, which allows a reader to immerse themselves as directly as possible in the geology of these diverse sites, with few reminders that Mr. Tucker is there acting as translator (meaning he does a very good job). Clastic dikes, pillow basalts, glacial erratics, lahar deposits, ghost forests, waterfalls, spits – there’s a wealth of geology in western Washington, and this book is THE resource I would use to guide me in exploring it.

I recommend this book if you’re on your way out to western Washington anytime soon.