Steven Earle, Vancouver Island University
Pub Date: 2015
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This textbook covers all the material required for an introductory course in Physical Geology, to a reasonably detailed extent. At times the chapters read more
This textbook covers all the material required for an introductory course in Physical Geology, to a reasonably detailed extent. At times the chapters might seem a little too schematic, lacking some at depth discussion of the topics, and might feel like good summaries of a particular subject. However I do not necessarily see this as a defect, since an instructor can add details in class, and the book still remains a good reference for the students.
I examined only a subset of the chapters, but based on what I read I did not find any errors or mistakes that could affect the usage of the book in a classroom (i.e. mislead or confuse the students). There are indeed parts where simplification is evident, but it’s nothing that an instructor could not clarify and examine in more depth in the class.
Obsolescence should not be much of a problem for a book that deals with well established principles of geology, and indeed I did not find any “old and now debunked” science in the text. Due to its open source nature, updating the book does not seem to be a problem. Again as I pointed out in other parts of this review, the role of the instructor remains important.
The author makes a strong effort to adopt a clear and simple language, to highlight technical terms and to use them in context. This is as expected from an introductory text, and does not seem to require any previous knowledge of the subject. It should be easy for an instructor to help students in particular areas of geology that can be more challenging to the neophyte, and to clarify doubts referencing the textbook.
The book follows a simple and consistent structure throughout, so that the reader will not be confused when going from a chapter to the following. Each chapter starts with a summary introduction, then the main body of the chapter itself, and finally a summary with review questions.
Chapters are not grouped in sections (as one can find in commercial textbooks for instance), however their order is logical (from the viewpoint of an introduction to geology). Since the book is free and modifiable, dividing it in subsections adding more bookmarks, or even reordering some chapters as needed for a class, should not be a overwhelming task.
The logical order of the chapters is similar to what can be found in commercial textbooks, with the added bonus here that everything can be reordered easily to accommodate the needs of a particular class or the teaching plans of a particular instructor.
This is where the book falls short when compared with commercial products, however this is not to be considered as a strong criticism of the final result. Commercial companies have access to resources and time that a writer/publisher who gives away the product for free cannot afford. The final result is still good. Main problems are to be found in the visual support built into the book. The images are always too small, and if a student (or an instructor) wanted to actually print the book, it would be difficult to use them. All the images are live linked, so it is possible to access higher resolution versions, and they seem all hosted on the same site (https://opentextbc.ca), reducing the possibility that those links might become broken. In addition the book is available in an editable format (ODT), and that makes it possible to reformat the whole thing. It would take quite a while though. Moreover the bookmarks of the chapters are in the wrong section (under acknowledgments), but as I noticed before, these can be easily rearranged. All in all navigating the book is easy, at least in the PDF version I examined.
I did not notice any grammatical errors or typos in the chapters I examined.
I confess that I have a hard time thinking of how any of these geologic topics (or geology in general) could be culturally insensitive or offensive. As per the cultural relevance of geology, well it affects the development of civilizations, so this aspect seems to be pretty straightforward to me. However an instructor would have to elaborate on this in a class, especially when dealing with Earth’s resources and their usage.
I was favorably impressed by Dr. Earle's effort to produce a free and overall robust textbook in Physical Geology. The book indeed covers all the topics that are typically presented in an introductory Physical Geology class, and also includes a chapter on the geology of Canada, a welcome addition that can be used as way to illustrate to the students how to connect all the geologic information presented in the course. I would not have any problem in adopting this as the only official textbook for my class (I teach Physical Geology), if I were teaching a face to face and relatively small class. Unfortunately I teach a fully online large (250+ students) class, and I need a textbook with more support for the students. With this I mean that it does need to have a more in depth examination of each topic, and a better high quality visual support. I can of course compensate for that, but only to a certain point. In an online asynchronous class students are supposed to face most of the work by themselves (albeit of course the instructor is always available to help), hence the support textbook has to be as exhaustive as possible. Additional material is offered in the course, along with online video lectures, but still .. an essentially self-contained textbook is – in my opinion – still necessary. The free alternative is possible, but it does require much more effort and time on the part of – already overworked – instructors. For instance commercial textbooks come with material (especially high resolution images) that the instructor of an online (but also face to face) class, can use to create lectures, eliminating the need to start completely from scratch. At the moment I would adopt the book as complementary to my official (and .. yes commercial .. textbook), so that the students could use it as reference (i.e. to review material). On the other hand .. in a face to face small, or relatively small class, there is constant contact (or at least there should be) between the teacher and the students, which should compensate for any shortcomings of the text.
The text covers the areas traditionally covered in an Introductory Physical Geology textbook in sufficient detail. The chapter topics and chapter read more
The text covers the areas traditionally covered in an Introductory Physical Geology textbook in sufficient detail. The chapter topics and chapter order is conventional.
Overall, the content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. There are subtle points one could argue over. For example the text states “Where two plates are converging (and the convective flow is downward), one plate will be subducted (pushed down) into the mantle beneath the other.” One could argue that the words “pushed down” could lead to a misconception because, although ridge push is a known plate tectonic force, data suggests that slab pull is greater than ridge push. Another example is that the book ignores the inorganic part of the definition of a mineral. Given the numerous definitions of the word organic, it might not be a bad thing to leave it to upper division classes to discuss this.
The book is relevant in that is covers the fundamentals of introductory geology. Since these fundamentals are well established, particularly at an introductory level, it will have a great deal of longevity. One pet peeve of mine is the relevance of discussing Bowen’s Reaction Series at the introductory level. Almost every textbook includes it and the students dutifully memorize it, without really understanding why. It’s not until students learn igneous petrology, especially the phase equilibria of two-component peritectic and solid solution systems that the gain a real understanding of Bowen’s Reaction Series. I fail to recognize why it should be introduced at the introductory level.
The book is highly readable. While the emphasis is on what we know, it does so in a “easy to read” fashion and doesn’t come across like an encyclopedia. For example, in Chapter 4, the text does a good job on the inter-relationships of magma viscosity and volatile content and their relationship with the potential explosivity of the magma.
The text is both internally and externally consistent. The glossary defines all the geologic terminology used in the text.
Each chapter can be read independently but it does not appear to be readily divisible. For example, section 4.2 starts “As noted in the previous section, the types of magma produced in the various volcanic settings can differ significantly.” Later in the section it reads “First, as we’ve already discussed, felsic magmas tend to be more viscous because they have more silica, and hence more polymerization.” This is already discussed in section 3.2 “These silica chains have the important effect of making the magma more viscous (less runny), and as we’ll see in Chapter 4, magma viscosity has significant implications for volcanic eruptions.” Each chapter in the text has four to six subsections, that should be read in order, I believe they can’t easily be read independently.
The book covers the areas traditionally covered in an Introductory Physical Geology textbook in a common organization. After the introduction, the book begins with earth materials: minerals; rocks; and the rock cycle. One chapter is devoted to geologic time, followed by structural/tectonic aspects of the Earth, including earthquakes. The agents of erosion are next, with the common insertion of groundwater after streams. The text concludes with independent chapters of sea floor geology, earth resources, climate change etc.
I am not aware of any interface issues. Navigation design of images and charts is a small version within the text. When reading the book on-line, clicking on the small image opens up a larger version in the same window – without the image caption. The reader uses the back arrow to go back to the textbook. The student does have the ability to open the image in a new window or tab, you allow simultaneous viewing of the image, image caption and related text. The pdf version I downloaded includes the small images. Clicking on the image in the pdf version triggers a web-browser link to the image.
The text contains no grammatical errors. It uses the British/Canadian spelling of words like colour, dyke and travelling.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The text is written without mention to race, ethnicity, and background. It does mention the First Nation peoples of Canada mining obsidian as an example of historical resources exploitation. The chapter on Climate Change doesn’t mention how the developed world contributed almost all of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases yet the developing world will suffer the impacts of these gases the most.
The textbook is Canada-centric. Given that almost all the Introductory Physical Geology textbooks published for North America are focused on the United States, this is probably a good thing. Use by faculty teaching in the United States might require some additional examples, perhaps an additional homegrown chapter or two emphasizing local examples when appropriate. Alternatively, this could be a student assignment, using the jig-saw approach.
It is an expansive introductory physical geology text and has a quite a thorough glossary and appendices which include answers to exercises within read more
It is an expansive introductory physical geology text and has a quite a thorough glossary and appendices which include answers to exercises within the chapters and review questions at the end of each chapter. There are only two areas I feel that could be further developed, deserts and mountain building.
The content is accurate and unbiased. The problems and equations are free of error. The only issue I found was formatting of some chemical formulas and numbers with exponents, but that may be just in certain versions. I reviewed using a downloadable .pdf.
The content is up-to-date and the format looks to be something that can be updated as needed. I found it refreshing there were examples from as recently as 2015, e.g. droughts in California and the New Horizons probe sent to Pluto.
The language used in this textbook is approachable and uses contractions, which I found a refreshing diversion from the traditional writing style of geology texts. The scientific terms were explained in a clear manner. Moreover, I believe most students, even those in the United States, will be able to work with the British spellings and all metric units.
The format of the book and use of terminology is consistent, including the chapter 22 written by Karla Panchuk.
Each chapter has a clear list of learning objectives with sections that are logically ordered. The chapters can be used in-full or instructors can select relative sections. I found chapter 21, Geological History of Western Canada, unnecessary for my use teaching in the United States, but it could be used in institutions in Canada and other regions where a case study of Canada may be of interest.
The organization and flow of the textbook are logical. I do like the introduction to the rock cycle in the first chapter on rock and how it is reference again in subsequent chapters.
The book only has a few formatting issues with exponents and chemical formulas. One can click on the figures to see them larger if needed and then zoom-in further. Also, one can do a simple search to find all relevant terms within the textbook. Many of the figures are well done, including photographs the author took.
There weren't any grammatical errors that stood out when I read the text.
The book included geological examples, most of which were from the author's study area. Some examples were given of other areas in the world.
Physical Geology by Steve Earle is a more than sufficient introductory physical geology textbook that would work well for many community colleges, universities, and online learning institutions. It is a highly economical choice and encompasses much of what is needed for the subject. I would recommend others to take a look at this open textbook as a cost-effective option for students, especially in countries where the cost of tuition makes it difficult for students to afford books. I am an adjunct instructor at a State University, and am interested in using this textbook the next time I teach physical geology lecture.
The text goes into enough detail on all the major Geologic subjects that it would be useful for an overview course. The book's Canada flavor is read more
The text goes into enough detail on all the major Geologic subjects that it would be useful for an overview course. The book's Canada flavor is interesting, however as a U.S. educator, I would be supplementing with more U.S. examples.
Topics and their content are very accurate. I did not notice a definite bias in any of the units.
Content is very up to date and that helps immensely when teaching students as they are able to relate material to what they have experienced in their own lifetime. The coverage of the basic concepts make this book able to be used into the future with only minor upgrades as new material comes available.
I think the tone, terminology, and prose are wonderful. One of the hardest things to do is get students to read the material in the book. The material is concentrated and ease to read which should help students get and stay engaged.
The book is very consistent throughout.
The modularity is great. It breaks the material into easy to read sections with lots of illustrations.
Topics are presented well. As an instructor, I know that there is no one starting place for geology. I found the splitting up of the plate tectonics material a little cumbersome, but not unusable.
I did not encounter any issues with the interface. The ability to click on images to expand them is a great help.
I noticed no grammatical issues with the text.
The text uses lots of Canadian examples which is not a huge issue in general. However, here in the states, we would have to supplement with more localized and country specific examples. I noticed no biases with regard to race, ethnicity, or other backgrounds.
This looks like a wonderful text and I would definitely consider it for adoption in my course.
The text is extremely comprehensive in terms of its breadth of general geology topics that would be covered in an introductory geologic textbook. I read more
The text is extremely comprehensive in terms of its breadth of general geology topics that would be covered in an introductory geologic textbook. I assume, since the book is designed to address the geology of British Columbia, it covers the main geologic topics that would be important to that particular region. It does an amazing job of covering things such as minerals, rocks, and rock forming environments as they pertain to that region. The chapter on plate tectonics is also extremely informative and gives a very detailed discussion of the history of the science, which is very helpful for students to understand the changes in our understanding of Earth science and how science is a dynamic process. The only holes in the comprehensiveness of the book would be discussion of karst topography, which was very thin, and there was no section on deserts and desert processes. My assumption is that the lack of discussion of these topics is due to the fact that maybe these particular subjects are not found often in the BC area. I would have also liked to see a bit more of a discussion on relative dating, but there is enough information in the geologic dating chapter to cover the topic. Aside from those particulars, the author does a good job tying together anthropogenic issues back to geology in many of the sections which is particularly important for student's ability to identify with the subject. There is not an index but their is a table of contents that is quite thorough and a glossary at the end. The glossary is not listed by page, however, but is listed by chapter. The author makes it very easy to find these words though as they are well highlighted in the original text of the chapters.
Physical geology is a very accurate textbook. The author has an excellent grasp of the introductory level of geology and presents it in a way that is very accessible. I was impressed at the authors ability to share relevant examples both in his particular area, British Columbia, Canada, and also from other areas of the world as needed. There were some issues in terms of his discussion of minerals vs. mineral groups and also his discussion of magma vs. lava.
The Physical Geology textbook is very up to date in its science. There were sections that I was surprised to see in the textbook, for instance, there is a discussion of Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS) in the earthquake section of the book. Also there is great attention given to human's place in the geologic record and our effects of geologic environments. This book will age well because it shares a lot of information about human interaction with the Earth and therefore will remain very relevant as humans become more familiar with their effects on the Earth, a topic that is of particular relevance in sciences today. Also, because the textbook is ordered in sections and is very succinct in its discussion of topics it would be extremely easy to update the text.
I was particularly impressed with the Physical Geology textbook in terms of clarity. The author is succinct in description and uses clear and concise language when describing scientific content. As with all science, there is jargon that is used in the text; however, when jargon is used it is quickly described in lay terms for the student and many times there are diagrams or figures that help to demystify the dialogue. As a result the textbook was extremely accessible. Also, many of the figures directly explain the content discussion and are in line with the text, so you know exactly what figure goes with what dialogue. I find many times with science textbooks there are figures, diagrams, graphs, and tables found all over the page and many times its hard to tie these figures back to the written dialogue without searching for the figure number. However, Physical Geology does not have this problem. I know exactly where to look for the figures described in the text.
Physical Geology is definitely consistent in its terminology and framework. I found that each chapter had the same formatting and, as a result, was very easy to navigate. Also, because the discussion of geologic concepts is not generally linear (for instance its really hard to understand the formation of rocks without understanding minerals and to understand both you need some understanding of plate tectonics), the textbook had a way of quickly discussing topics necessary for understanding before fully delving into the topic in its own particular chapter. For instance, in chapter 1 there is a quick synopsis of plate tectonics before chapter 10 where plate tectonics is fully discussed. This is extremely helpful for the discussion of rocks and minerals which comes in chapters 2 through 7. The author also does this with climate change, he gives students the necessary, relevant information about the topic needed in certain chapters before the topic is thoroughly discussed in its own chapter. I find that when I teach I often do the same thing, leaving breadcrumbs of information about topics when needed before delving deeply into the subject.
The framework of this book lends itself easily to modularity. Each chapter is broken down into subheadings that can be used separately from the whole of the chapter. This books could easily be used in other classes and out of specific order because it is well organized.
Physical Geology has a structure that allows the book to be broken up and reproduced into major sections and subsections and so the actual organization of topics is not necessarily an issue for teachers, but I would not say that the order of the chapters is particularly logical. The beginning of the textbook's chapters has more logic to it, minerals, then rock and rock forming processes, but after chapter 7 the flow of content becomes a little mixed. For instance the book goes from plate tectonics, to earthquakes, to structures, to streams and floods. But again, they way that the book is assigned by the teacher makes the chapter order obsolete. What is very nice about the textbook is that each chapter starts with learning objectives, follows with descriptive text to explain the learning objective, then many of the subheadings end with an activity or exercise that the student can do to better grasp the content, and at the end of every chapter there is a summary of the topics discussed and questions for review. Also, each exercise and review question has answers in appendices in the back of the book. Those extra exercises and review questions makes the use of this book even more enticing. Lastly, there was one chapter that I really did not understand the order of and that was the chapter on earthquakes (chapter 11). The chapter starts basically by talking about rupture surface, then aftershocks, then ETS events, and then throws in a huge discussion about where we see earthquake on plate boundaries but, almost as an afterthought, discusses things like focus, epicenter, and the waves created by earthquakes which seismologists use to measure the magnitude and intensity. In my mind those particulars are much more important for student understanding than ETS events.
The interface of the book is just fine. All of the images and charts seem to be in order. The only issues I saw were in the beginning of the book and were mainly issues in the formatting of lists with indentation issues in the review questions and exercises. These formatting issues distract in so much as they are noticed but I don't think they affect the readability or usability of the text.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
Physical Geology is a science text and therefore pays little attention to culture, per se. There is discussion of human interaction with the Earth, and a bit about First Nations, but that's about as much as is discussed in the book.
This textbook is quite useful for teachers who would like a simple textbook with easily understood content, accessible formatting, and exercises and review questions that supplement student understanding. It's best fit would be for a 100 level, non-major class where students interaction with the geologic content is mainly surficial. The regionality of the examples would also make it necessary for teachers using the textbook to have supplemental information from their locality or notable international examples at the ready so that students can identify better with the content of the book, but most teachers already have these types of examples in their own lectures.
The book covers all of the topics typically covered in a short introductory physical geology textbook. Some topics are covered more thoroughly than read more
The book covers all of the topics typically covered in a short introductory physical geology textbook. Some topics are covered more thoroughly than others. For example, plate tectonics is covered in some depth, and includes a section (10.2 - geosynclinal theory) that would be omitted from almost any other introductory textbook. On the other hand, the topic of mass wasting mitigation would have benefited from a description of the various mitigation strategies (e.g., rock bolts, avalanche chutes) and how they work. As a U.S.-based instructor, the focus on western Canadian geology meant that examples were less relevant to my students. The one place this is a major problem is soil classification. The chapter on soils of Canada makes it clear that Canada uses a different classification system from the U.S.
Overall, the book is highly accurate. There is one unfortunate typo where the plural of tetrahedron is defined as tetrahedral. It is correctly spelled tetrahedra everywhere else. Almost all introductory-level books make simplifications (and oversimplifications) that can be perceived as incorrect by experts in the field, but don't have a negative impact on student learning. For instance, it is stated more than once in chapter 22 that the abundance of material available for building a planet is a function of distance from the sun. That's not strictly correct. The density of the pre-solar nebula (gas+solid) drops off with distance from the sun, but the percentage of the nebula that is solid (as opposed to gas) increases with distance. These two opposing factors mean that the largest amount of solids available for planet building occurs at Jupiter's location. Is this important for an introductory student? Not really. Neither is knowing that "amphibole" is a mineral structure, rather than a specific mineral. The only place that oversimplification made me unhappy was the description of the asthenosphere and D" layers as "partially liquid". I find that students imagine big pools of magma in the asthenosphere. I prefer really soft plastic solid containing very minor amounts of dispersed melt.
The content of the book is up to date. Most concepts are not likely to need any revision in the near future.
The book is written in fairly simple language appropriate for a freshman level text. As it was written for a Canadian audience, it contains spellings (e.g., metres, centre) that would give my U.S. based students pause. The only place this might cause problems is "dyke: for dike.
The book appears to be highly consistent in terminology and framework
The book is neither more nor less modular than any in print short introductory textbook. A chapter is more or less a self-contained unite (e.g., chapter 12 on structures, chapter 13 on streams).
The topics in the text are presented in an order similar to most introductory geology textbooks: minerals and rocks --> plate tectonics --> earthquakes and structures --> surface problems, with resources and planetary geology tucked onto the end.
I downloaded the book to my Nook reader. Many, if not most, of the illustrations were too small for me to see any detail, and were pixelated/blurry when I tried to enlarge them.
The text looked fine to me.
The text is not culturally offensive. It is clearly meant for Canadian students rather than U.S. based students. It was difficult to see the images (see #8), but the few people in the images all appeared to be of northern European ancestry. Not much in the way of diversity.
The book does a nice job explaining two concepts (isostasy, plastic solids) that trip up many beginning students. I liked the thin section views of sedimentary rocks and quartzite, and wished that similar views of igneous rocks and foliated metamorphic rocks had been included.
This text is comprehensive - it thoroughly covers all the topics of a typical introductory geology class, and the index and glossary are useful. read more
This text is comprehensive - it thoroughly covers all the topics of a typical introductory geology class, and the index and glossary are useful.
The content seems accurate. I didn't find any serious errors in the content. There are a few formatting oddities (esp. with figures and tables) that could be improved. The text is a bit biased in that it's western-Canada focused (this isn't necessarily a bad thing).
Regarding content, the text is up-to-date but should be relevant for a long time. Given the pace of the relevant processes, geology texts can be useful for a long time. Regarding presentation, I think this text may not be designed for long-term use as texts (and courses) become more and more digital. This text is basically the same as any other intro geology text, that happens to freely available online. But I think "modern" textbooks need to be more than a collection of words and graphics - we need the ability to navigate without scrolling through digital "pages", links to relevant animations, discussions by experts, interactive study-aids, youtube examples, etc., etc., etc.
The written text is clear and appropriate for the course level. One comment about the graphics: Make them bigger! Many of the photos and cartoons are too small. I'd also suggest wrapping the text around the graphics so as to make them a more integral part of the text. The best intro geology text i've seen/used is Exploring Geology, by Reynolds et al. The emphasis there is graphics - the text accompanies the graphics (not the other way around which is the standard).
The book is consistent from one section to another in terms of appropriateness for the audience, and presentation. I would suggest to make the section headers (which are boldfaced) bigger - they often get somewhat visually lost stuck between graphics or big blocks of text.
There is some inherent overlap of content in this field, but the book handles that as best as you can, and could be divided up (by chapter?) without too much trouble.
The book is organized well and flows from one topic to another adequately. [Aside: I think it's more logical to present plate tectonics as early as possible, but i understand the reasoning to do earth materials first too]. Some of the blue "Exercises" boxes formatting is strange and I can't figure out what they are for.
I didn't see any major problems with the interface (I am using a .pdf). Some of the blue boxes don't align vertically with the other blue boxes. The images and charts are too small, but are readable (but may cause accessibility issues).
I didn't find any grammatical errors. There were a few places where I may have phrased things differently, but that's just based on preference.
This isn't terribly relevant to a geology text, but the it was culturally relevant (especially if you are in western Canada).
Writing and assembling a text is a major effort and I applaud the author for doing so, and making it freely available. We need more people like to you!
The book covers everything one would normally look for in an Introductory Physical Geology (IPG) text, including "ocean geology" and Earth/Solar read more
The book covers everything one would normally look for in an Introductory Physical Geology (IPG) text, including "ocean geology" and Earth/Solar System (chapter 22...which in the index has the odd property of having the same guest author mentioned after every section). Some of the chapters can be rated as rather short, and thus lacking detail that other IPG texts do have, but this makes the book (conservatively) a few hundred pages shorter than many IPG books, and probably puts it closer to the shortest of the for-profit texts.
There are errors and oversimplifications that are not hard to find. Chapter 1: "A mineral is a pure substance with a specific composition and structure, while a rock is typically a mixture of several different minerals (although a few types of rock may include only one type of mineral). Examples of minerals are feldspar, quartz, mica, halite, calcite, and amphibole." Minerals are far from "pure substances" (whatever that means), and feldspar, mica, and amphiboles are not minerals, they're families of minerals (some 130 amphiboles). Section 1.6, Ma and [sic] ka is defined differently than in the glossary. The definition of a mineral is an oversimplification. Olivine is described as a mineral (it's not). What's universally described as the Si-O tetrahedron is described in the book as a "silica tetrahedron". "Tetrahedral" is not the plural of tetrahedron. Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are held up as examples of storms somehow connected to "climate warming" which ignores that (a) there's zero evidence connecting those particular storms to "climate warming", (b) geologists had long predicted New Orleans was going to be hit by a hurricane, and (c) Sandy was a large but weak storm and much of the prodigious damage was a result of building in recent decades in highly vulnerable areas. While the general flow is similar to other IPG texts, and much IS accurate, one starts to anticipate the next not-quite accurate statement, which is uncomfortable.
Most of the text appears relevant and timely, though of course a good IPG text should mostly focus on very well-established aspects of geology that are not likely to change. The linearity of the text (text...usually straightforward figures with concise captions...more text...repeat) is similar to texts of decades past, which is a relaxing and easy-to-take-in presentation in great contrast to some of the current "deluge of figures" style IPG texts that few if any students can learn from. This linearity makes updating and improving easy.
The text is written in basic, clear language. I compared it using standard reading-clarity tests (volcanology and mineralogy chapters) to most other IPG texts, and it rated among the very easiest to read, at (varying with the test) grade levels from about 9-12. The reader of this information can decide whether this is a pro or con. On the pro-side, the wording is very simple, as shown by the fewest syllables per word and letters per word of almost any other IPG books, and if one comes down on the side of making our science texts more tractable for non-science majors, this is probably a good thing. If one comes down on the side that simplifying our writing to match the decreasing reading skills and concentration skills of our students, perhaps this is a bad thing.
Around a dozen terms from the glossary were selected and looked at their presence and order within the book, especially, looking for words used before they were defined. The words I picked were used an average of 4 times (not counting the glossary), typically where first defined, again in the text, in a figure & caption, and often later in a secondary usage. Other than issues with incomplete or oversimplified definitions, consistency seemed adequate.
Compared to other IPG texts, the book is less modular, i.e., the sections (20.1, 20.2, etc.) are longer. To some, this is rather nice, rather than the staccato style subdivisions of some IPG books. It's up to the instructor to decide if this is in the best interest of the students. Partly, the presence of fewer subdivisions is based on the choice of topics. There's plenty of material here to fill any normal IPG course, but it's likely that specialists will find that some of their favorite topics are not covered in their go-to chapters. E.g., chapter 20 is some 25 pages long, but there are only four subdivisions. Thus, for the instructor that likes to micromanage, it's likely going to be hard to choose sections to omit.
The organization is very standard for IPG texts. The only two issues are the placement of the tectonics chapter, which is important to many instructors: it's chapter 10, although there are mentions of tectonics earlier. Another issue is the placement of the Earth/solar system chapter--dead last. This is indeed one way of doing it--now that we're done discussing the Earth, let's look out at the rest of the solar system. However, a major part of the chapter is the origin of the Earth, the Big Bang, and planetary formation, which suggests it could be better placed early in the book. Two chapters some might miss are those on historical geology (although there's a chapter on the geological history of western Canada [why not expand this to western N. America?]) and scientific thinking.
As mentioned above, there's a soothing simplicity to the PDF, simply text...figure...text. Links in the table of contents jumped quickly to the correct location in the book. All the figures I checked quickly opened (in my case, on my second monitor), but without the figure caption. Thus, the reader does need to go back and forth between the figure in one place/monitor and the caption in another place/monitor. The size and resolution of especially the photographs was not standard--some were no larger than on the PDF. However, note this--at 100% magnification on a large monitor, many figures were not at all clear UNLESS 'popped out'. It's unclear why they are not inserted larger, unless to keep the size of the PDF (over 100 MB) down. No other problems encountered.
Few grammatical errors noticed. Generally simple wording, short sentences, straightforward writing.
None noticed; not much of an issue in general in geology.
As quickly evident from the preface and early in the book, based on the genesis, authors, and initial purpose of the book, there is a heavy bias toward Canada and especially B.C. This doesn't necessarily mean that, e.g., the photos were inferior, but some very familiar international examples were clearly omitted. This does make the book feel more regional. Many IPG texts pose unrealistically complex questions or tasks for students that few non-science IPG students would be interested in. One good thing about this book is that many of the exercises are not like that; they get the student to think or do something that is nicely connected to the material without being excessively demanding. Realistically, it's an accomplishment to get many students simply to read the assigned chapters; to get them to do/think a little extra is a good bonus.
This book is comparable in scope to the priced books I have and am currently using. I was very pleased to find a book I could use for my Earth read more
This book is comparable in scope to the priced books I have and am currently using. I was very pleased to find a book I could use for my Earth Science course that touches on the same topics I use in my class that is obviously affordable to my students. Chapter 1 provides a summary introduction for the rest of the book which carries the reader through the foundations of geologic principles, ending with an introduction to the Earth's place in the universe. Physical Geology covers every topic an Earth Science class would cover with the exception of specifically weather and climate. However, Chapter 19 deals with the properties of weather and climate with enough detail within the context of climate change. The lack of a weather and climate section is understandable as the book is focused on geology- climate change being in part a byproduct of geologic work in drilling and mining, and natural processes. Any further information on weather processes may be supplemented from other open sources. Overall, this book is very comprehensive for a semester course in earth science or physical geology.
I did not see any errors, inaccurate statements or evidence of bias.
Science is a relatively slow process with new ideas and discoveries filtered into textbooks over time. The book Physical Geology as it stands should have a long shelf life as far as knowledge content. Due to the layout of the chapters, the book can easily be updated as needed with new concepts with little disruption to the flow of the prose. However, this book uses many URLs as citation links, or links to supplementary information, including larger images. These links will need to be tested periodically to ensure the book is not broken. Though useful for a thumbprint, I tend to shy away from Wikipedia links only because anyone can edit the Wiki content.
As an introduction to Earth Science text, the book is fairly balanced in the use of technical jargon. The basics are laid out clearly, in plain terms and the descriptions tend to ramp up introducing the students to new terminology. The technical terms are bold and clearly put into context, or defined directly in the text. A student should have no problem navigating the text. The use of end of chapter questions and exploratory experiments students may conduct on their own help drive home important concepts.
The text is well put together. Chapter one introduces the reader to the field of geology and the foundational theories and principles for geologic research. This sets the stage for the rest of the book. Though I don't use them in my lectures, each chapter sets out learning objectives which some students may find helpful. The chapters are broken into smaller sections and end with study questions that give students the chance review their knowledge of the topics.
This book, while it is presented in a logical order as it stands, it is very easy to divide into smaller sections each with headings and subheadings to facilitate navigation. The instructor can easily rearrange the readings without losing meaning or context.
The book was well organized and touched on topics I find important in my class. Where necessary, new sections built on knowledge in previous sections. Overall the book was laid out in a logical and manageable fashion for someone who wishes to use the book from cover to cover in the order it is presented.
The linked table of contents in the PDF version I am reviewing was extremely helpful in navigating the book and works well. The HTML version also contains hyperlinked table of contents. This form of navigation is helpful when one navigates away from an online PDF version only to return to the title page of the PDF. Several images are blurry or too small to make out clearly in the PDF version of the textbook. Clicking on an image will take the reader to an online version of the image, however this would not be possible without internet access. Some images could be enlarged to better fit the page as well. Many of the tables are formatted across multiple pages making reading difficult. Photo and illustrations labels are not consistently spaced. These are easily remedied however with sharper images. There are no issues with the text layout aside from what is pushed around by some of the images and tables which leave mostly blank pages. These are the only issues I find with the book's interface. The graphics and table layout is the only big hit this book takes.
No grammatical errors were noticeable.
I could not think of a way an earth science or geology textbook could be culturally insensitive until I realized the author did a great job mentioning native groups and the names they used for geological locations. There is no reason I can see that anyone would take offence with the content of the book.
I teach my earth science course from a historical perspective, getting across how we know as much as what we know. This book provides very adequate content on the historical reasoning behind the discoveries. While it lacks a robust weather and climate chapter, that is remedied by supplementing the text with readings from other open sources- either textbooks or government agencies. I always start my course out with a sample of astronomy, so I was pleased to see an introduction to the Earth's place in the universe at Chapter 22. The modular nature of the book lends itself to reading out of order so I can easily work this textbook into my course.
The text is comprehensive and does cover all topic areas typically covered in a physical geology course. Further, the text includes a glossary. read more
The text is comprehensive and does cover all topic areas typically covered in a physical geology course. Further, the text includes a glossary.
From the material I have sampled I have not discovered any inaccuracies. And discussions of the major topic areas are consistent with those typically found in the mainstream physical geology texts.
Content is indeed up-to-date with discussions of the most recent developments in the field, and obsolescence in the field of physical geology is not a significant issue. Moreover, because of the structure of the text, updating it should not be challenging.
One of the strong suits of the text is it's clarity. It's written with an economy of words and in particular jargon. Sentences are written in a short, to the point fashion, and that's desirable.
The text consistent in terms of it's structure. Each chapter starts off with an Introduction, which includes "Learning Objectives," followed by the "Body" of the chapter -- which includes figures and exercises. Each chapter concludes with a "Summary" and "Questions for Review."
It's very easy to pick and choose topic areas in the text, because of how the text is structures. Later material in the text does of course, to a certain extent, build on earlier chapters -- but if one is careful to assign earlier foundational material -- it is easy to reorder the sequence of chapters (topics) presented.
The organization/structure/flow of the text is fine and is quite similar to that of mainstream physical geology texts.
There are no issues whatsoever with navigating through the text, with either the basic text or with figures and exercises.
Grammar is correct and standard.
I found no instances of cultural insensitivity or offensive references/language, etc. in any fashion.
I am on the whole impressed with the text. It's clearly written and accurate. My only negative comment has to do with the artwork. I am used to the more "sophisticated" art presented in say, Pearson's geology and geography texts, so the simplicity of the art in Earle's text will take some getting used to. But in a way the simplicity may be a plus, as it keeps things "simple" for the students. I am considering adopting the text for my future physical geology/geography courses.
Table of Contents
o Chapter 1 Introduction to Geology
o Chapter 2 Minerals
o Chapter 3 Intrusive Igneous Rocks
o Chapter 4 Volcanism
o Chapter 5 Weathering and Soil
o Chapter 6 Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks
o Chapter 7 Metamorphism and Metamorphic Rocks
o Chapter 8 Measuring Geological Time
o Chapter 9 Earth’s Interior
o Chapter 10 Plate Tectonics
o Chapter 11 Earthquakes
o Chapter 12 Geological structures
o Chapter 13 Streams and Floods
o Chapter 14 Groundwater
o Chapter 15 Mass Wasting
o Chapter 16 Glaciation
o Chapter 17 Shorelines
o Chapter 18 Geology of the Oceans
o Chapter 19 Climate Change
o Chapter 20 Geological Resources
o Chapter 21 Geological History of Western Canada
o Chapter 22 The Origin of Earth and the Solar System
o About the Author
o Appendix 1 List of Geologically Important elements and the Periodic Table
o Appendix 2 Answers to Review Questions
About the Book
Physical Geology is a comprehensive introductory text on the physical aspects of geology, including rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciation, groundwater, streams, coasts, mass wasting, climate change, planetary geology and much more. It has a strong emphasis on examples from western Canada, especially British Columbia, and also includes a chapter devoted to the geological history of western Canada. The book is a collaboration of faculty from Earth Science departments at Universities and Colleges across British Columbia and elsewhere.
About the Contributors
Steve Earle PhD was born in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, and lived in Vancouver, London (UK) and Saskatoon before moving to Nanaimo in 1992. He has no plans to leave Vancouver Island. He has a BSc in geology from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in geochemistry from Imperial College (University of London). He worked in the mineral exploration industry from 1978 to 1995, and he still does some mineral exploration consulting.