Book Review: Roadside Geology of Southern British Columbia

Roadside Geology of Southern British Columbia is my least favourite geoscience book I have ever purchased. As an immediate counterview, Northwest Geology Field Trips is far more complimentary about this book than I am. To be blunt, I hated it. It was good enough to use after I purchased it, but I haven’t replaced it since it disappeared on a band tour, and I don’t think I ever will.

What’s my complaint? It’s entirely geology. It’s almost entirely technical rock names in great detail and precision, with almost no geomorphology, large-scale processes, or context. The authors are absolutely subject experts on Cascade geology, but that’s exactly the problem: it is written for other experts. I’m a geophysicist with my primary geographic focus and fieldwork in British Columbia, and I find this book to be effectively a running list of outcrop descriptions with minimal tie-in to the tectonic processes that created this bewildering province. I like rocks, but I’d hate to be a non-geologist geoscientist from out of region using this book to scrape together context for the dramatic, exposed outcrops along every highway. Where I give out copies of Vancouver: City on the Edge to anyone demonstrating even the vaguest curiosity about my local rocks, I was reluctant to lend Roadside Geology out to anyone but the most hardcore rock-nerd for fear of scaring them off.

But, it’s not in my nature to be critical, so a few positive points:

  • The organization is easy to follow while driving.
  • Southern British Columbia is effectively the populated portion of British Columbia, or at least the portions a tourist is likely to encounter (fieldworkers are a whole different story!), so the book covers almost everywhere you’ll go.
  • “Roadside” includes “ferry side,” which is handy since technically ferries are part of our highway system.
  • The guide will provide rock identification for road cuts that would otherwise prove challenging to analyse while whipping past at 80kph.


Can you write a review for a field guide, roadside geology book, or other resource for self-guided field trips? The August Accretionary Wedge deadline is September 1st!

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One Response to Book Review: Roadside Geology of Southern British Columbia

  1. Pingback: Accretionary Wedge: Guidebooks Galore! | GeoMika

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