Rocks, more than anything else, underpin our lives. They make up the solid structure of the Earth and of other rocky planets, and are present at the cores of gas giant planets. We live on the rocky surface of the planet, grow our food on weathered debris derived from rocks, and we obtain nearly all of the raw materials with which we found our civilization from rocks. From the Earth's crust to building bricks, rocks contain our sense of planetary history, and are a guide to our future.
In this Very Short Introduction Jan Zalsiewicz looks at the nature and variety of rocks, and the processes by which they are formed. Starting from the origin of rocks and their key role in the formation of the Earth, he considers what we know about the deep rocks of the mantle and core, and what rocks can tell us about the evolution of the Earth, and looks at those found in outer space and on other planets.
1: Primordial rocks
2: First rocks on a dead Earth
3: Earth surface processes: the making of sedimentary rocks
4: Rock transformations: the story of metamorphism
5: Rocks in the deep
6: Living rocks, evolving rocks
7: Rocks on other planets
8: Human-made rocks
Dr Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester, having previously worked at the British Geological Survey. A field geologist, palaeontologist and stratigrapher, he teaches various aspects of geology and Earth history to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is a researcher into fossil ecosystems and environments across over half a billion years of geological time. He has published over a hundred papers in scientific journals and is the author of several books for OUP, including The Earth After Us (2008), The Planet in a Pebble (2012) and, with co-author Mark Williams, The Goldilocks Planet (2012) and Ocean Worlds (2014).
"This is a thorough and succinct account, accessible to all who would like a concise introduction on a wide and highly researched topic – rocks [...] Zalasiewicz is a great storyteller who captures your imagination as concepts are explained using straightforward prose."
– Amy-Jo Miles, Geoscientist