Top positive review
41 people found this helpful
Review of the 2nd edition (1999)
on 13 November 2004
While not an earth sciences person myself, I have had to plow through quite a number of environmental science dictionaries and textbooks over the years as references for various aspects of projects at my job (which has to do with environmental modelling, representation, and simulation). It'd be a shame to let all that "how would an educated layperson cope with this book" experience go to waste...
The authors themselves make clear in their prefaces (that for the first edition is also included) what the intended use of the book is - as a dictionary of words and terms in current use, in order to explain that usage (*not* to express an opinion on what a correct usage should be). (In compiling any sort of dictionary/glossary across multiple disciplines, believe me, it's *very* difficult to agree on The One True Definition (TM) of any term.)
The DICTIONARY isn't intended as a textbook, but might be a useful supplement. There are occasional diagrams, but not many relative to the number of entries.
A DICTIONARY OF EARTH SCIENCES doesn't *just* tackle geologic terms - if it did, it'd be titled differently. The scope includes "terms from climatology, meteorology, economic geology, engineering geology, geochemistry, geochronology, geomorphology, geophysics, hydrology, mineralogy, oceanography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, palaeogeography, palaeontology, pedology, petrology...planetary geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural geology, tectonics, and volcanology."
Having such a broad scope, it's good for general / introductory knowledge, on the whole, but don't expect *too* much of it for more specialized areas.
It passes my personal, idiosyncratic acid test; it not only defines the Udden-Wentworth scale of particle size (which is used to grade sands, silts, gravel, etc.), but gives both its common names. (Far too many textbooks seem to assume that the scale fell out of the sky and don't even give its name.) So it's reasonably good at defining very common terms and tools that are often assumed to need no explanation.
Differences from the first edition: all terms were reviewed, many updated. There were a few removals of terms no longer considered relevant, and a great many additions (this last generated mostly by planetary exploration both in space and for natural resources).