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This is the latest edition of this compendium of ‘best practice’ in geological mapping. The commercial success of this volume in the ‘Geological Field Guide Series’ is demonstrated by its frequent revision (this is the fifth edition) compared to the other volumes in the series. The latest edition of Basic Geological Mapping includes evaluations of the newly available technological and digital mapping aids, their limitations, where to acquire them and how to use them. These sections will be of particular relevance and interest to the older generations of geological mappers, though the target readership is the ‘entry level’ field student on their first independent geological mapping project in the British Isles. Advice for geological mapping in the hotter, colder, wetter and drier climates also is given.

The volume commences with safety and behaviour during field work, of which the advice on safety is very relevant to the solo geological mapper. An evaluation follows of the field equipment and suitable clothing that a geologist might use. The authors emphasise the limitations and inaccuracies of Global Positioning System (GPS) ‘aps’ on mobile phones, apparently favoured by students, compared to GPS system handsets, which have greater accuracy. A discussion of different types of topographic maps follows and procedures on how to find where you are on a map. The benefits of air photo interpretation, before fieldwork starts, are emphasised. Different methods of geological mapping by following contacts, traversing and exposure mapping are explained, and the uses of geophysical techniques and a brief section on underground mapping are included. The authors anticipate many of the different mapping situations that the novice field mapper may encounter. A section on ‘Mappable field units’ discusses the recognition of the principal rock types likely to be encountered, the determination of way-up in sedimentary rocks and concludes with a brief discussion on the importance of recognising potentially economic metallic and industrial minerals; water is not neglected.

The sections on field notebooks, note taking and plotting of field maps, together with field sketching with summary acronyms to assist good practice, are followed by sections on fair-copy work, drawing of cross-sections and different types of 3-D illustrations. Geologists of all ages are often held back by weak writing skills. This no longer need be a disadvantage if the reader follows the authors' sensible suggestions on the laying out and writing of their fieldwork report texts, tables and illustrations. The volume concludes with appendices on closed compass traverses and a formidable field equipment check list anticipating almost every eventuality the field mapper may encounter. A comprehensive list of references has been selected for more detailed readings on the topics discussed in the text.

This well written and illustrated volume is to be welcomed as a means of standardising geological mapping practice in English-speaking universities and, hopefully, elsewhere in the world. This pocket-sized book retails at £22.50 which seems expensive, but it is a book that many geologists will keep and consult during their careers, or at least until the next edition appears.