All landscapes are built on rock: from hard stone for building with, to the softest clay or sand. Each piece of rock is a storehouse of prehistorical information; even a simple pebble from the garden has its own complex tale to tell. Geology is the great detective science that can unlock these secrets. In this entertaining and eye-opening book, the authors take a deep dive – quite literally – into their home county of Essex.
We are all living in an ice age, an ongoing event that has hugely affected Essex over the last 3 million years. Yet this county was born more than 500 million years ago. Our story begins when the land we know as Essex was part of a large continent close to the South Pole, tracing the geological processes that continue to shape the countryside around us. The form of the land, boulders on village greens, road cuttings, cliffs, stones in church walls – they can all bring geology to light in unexpected and fascinating ways.
Aimed at a general readership with no scientific background, chapters progress from fundamentals to intricate details of geological investigations and cutting-edge research. Richly illustrated with photographs and colour diagrams, here the geology of a county is visualised and brought to life as never before, along with pertinent environmental insights in the light of climate change that is happening now.
Ian Mercer worked for the British Geological Survey and Geological Museum for 25 years and was Director of Education for the Gemmological Association of Great Britain for nearly two decades.
Ros Mercer was a geology and physics teacher for more than 20 years. They have been leaders for the Essex Rock and Mineral Society for many years; UK national advisors for U3A Geology; and officers for GeoEssex – the county geoconservation steering group. In 2020, together they were awarded the Halstead Medal by the Geologists’ Association for their achievements as 'ambassadors in the promotion of geology, contributing to education at all levels'. Ian Mercer is the author of several books on related subjects.
"This book will be a great read for anyone at all interested in geology and in explaining our landscapes, even if they don't live in Essex. It is the perfect book to encourage future citizen scientists in the sphere of Earth science."
– David Bridgland, Geologists' Association Council Member and Professor of Geography, Durham University
"It is hard to believe that the rocks of Essex provide evidence for tropical seas, the river Thames, when it flowed from Wales to the North Sea and a glaciation that covered the northern parts of the county. But it is true! In this clearly written and beautifully illustrated book (a coloured illustration on virtually every page) Ian and Ros Mercer describe and provide an insight into this little known landscape."
– Jim Rose, Emeritus Professor, Royal Holloway, University of London
"A lifetime of innovative thinking has come pouring out in one volume. As the authors say, if we are to look after the future of our natural world, then we need to understand what has brought us to this point. This magnificently illustrated volume presents Essex and its ever-evolving landscape in a truly insightful manner. A book with interest for one and all."
– Dr Richard J Hubbard, geologist and author of The Smugglers Trail
"A revelatory book, enabling me to understand how the landscape I love was formed and the soils I farm were created. The superb illustrations, together with a most informative and readable text bring to life Essex's entire geological history."
– Ashley Cooper, Essex farmer and author of Our Mother Earth