15 December 2017

Aerial Geology, by Mary Caperton Morton

Posted by Callan Bentley

There’s a lovely new coffee table book out, just in time for holiday shopping. My fellow EARTH magazine contributor Mary Capterton Morton is the author of Aerial Geology, a beautiful massive tome that profiles a hundred geologically interesting locations across the North American continent. Mary was kind enough to forward me a copy for review, and I was delighted to flip through its gorgeous pages. It’s a visual feast, with a mix of satellite imagery, airplane imagery, and on-the-scene regular-scale photos. Each site gets a two- to four-page write up, most of which is photographic imagery, but sometimes it’s augmented by excellent schematic illustrations by the talented Kat Cantner. The sites are sometimes can be as broad as the entire Canadian Rockies or the Great Plains, and sometimes as specific as a single petite meteorite impact crater or mountain peak. I learned a lot. Some of these places I had never heard of before. One particular strength of the collection is a profusion of craters – it reaches a critical threshold where you get a fuller sense of their diversity and commonalities. Others of the selected places I am familiar with through travel or work. In most cases, the descriptions are spot-on: informative and accurate, written with an economy of words. In one case (the Blue Ridge), I found some errors in the description, and I’ve reported these to Mary, who assures me they will be corrected in future editions. But that’s a drop in the bucket, and the bucket is quite full: this book would make an ideal holiday gift for anyone who has an affinity for Earth processes and pretty pictures.