Published in 2011, one of the more recent entries in Mountain Press’ venerable Roadside Geology series, Roadside Geology of Missouri fills a gap in the literature of Missouri geology and field guides. While previous volumes in the same field, like A.G. Unklesbay’s Missouri Geology:Three Billion Years of Volcanoes Seas Sediments and Erosion, filled in variously for those interested in the geology of the Show-Me State, a good volume for traveling the state’s highways has been lacking. The geology of the state is surprisingly diverse, and much of that diversity is visible along the state’s roads and highways, particularly once a driver leaves the relatively smooth highlands of the post-glacial north.
Charles Spencer, a Kansas City-area based consulting geologist, has produced an excellent volume which will be of use to laypersons, armchair travelers, tourists, educators, and professionals alike. (Here I should briefly note that I vaguely know Dr. Spencer, thanks to having encountered him over the years at the Kansas City Gem & Mineral Show, at which time he normally – kiddingly? – chides me for the fact that I haven’t bought enough mineral specimens from his booth.)
After Spencer’s introduction to general geological concepts and briefly discussing the geologic history of Missouri, the “roadside” part of the book is divided roughly into four regions, covering the northern third of the state (“The Glaciated Plains”), the midsection and southwest corner (“The Osage Plains and the Springfield Plateau”), the southern third (“The Ozarks and the St. Francois Mountains”), and finally the extreme southeastern corner (“The Southeast Lowlands”). Together, these sections cover thousands of miles and over hundreds of millions of years in geology.
As you would expect from the Roadside Geology books, this volume has an excellent array of maps. Better still, in the style of the more recent volumes, both maps and photographs are in full color (a vast improvement over the older volumes, where one had to make do with three-color maps and black-and-white photographs), making both field use and armchair enjoyment all the greater. Finally, the book addresses a number of sites which make me want to head out on long drives when the weather is fine, to see some nice caves, to wander through the Weaubleau formation, or to make my way all the way to New Madrid. In light of the continuing fear and misunderstanding of earthquakes, you might wonder: will there be another New Madrid earthquake? The answer is in here (spoiler alert: it’s vaguely possible, but probably not).
In short, if you’re a Missourian, an amateur or professional geologist, a wanderer, or just looking for an excuse for a road trip, this is the book for you. Recommended, five stars.
Originally reviewed 10 November 2011.
Find your copy on AbeBooks.com.