The Isle of Wight is a geological gem with its 110 km (68 mile) long coastline displaying a range of rocks dating from Lower Cretaceous to Oligocene age. Many of the sands and clays yield fossil bivalves and gastropods, and its famous dinosaur footprints attract much attention from geologists and tourists alike. Yet the scenic beauty of the island is the product of its differing strata, former earth movements and the erosive power of the sea and the rivers. The monoclinal fold that crosses the island forms the chalk downland ridge that ends in the splendid cliffs of Culver in the east and The Needles in the west. By contrast, the softer rocks produce low, slumped cliffs often cut by steep-sided chines or alternatively, on the north coast, branching estuaries and salt marsh creeks. With over 120 colour illustrations The Isle of Wight: Landscape and Geology discusses the geological processes that created the island's distinctive landscape; it provides a field guide to the identification of rocks and fossils and includes details of nineteen itineraries to discover the geological examples and fossils discussed.
John Downes has taught both Geography and Geology to college students for many years. He has also tutored Earth Science students of The Open University and geology groups within the University of the Third Age. He lives in rural Somerset where he continues to write on geological themes.