Bay Nature magazineFall 2006


Book Review: Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region

October 1, 2006

Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region, by Doris Sloan, UC Press, 2006, 360 pages, $17.95

“The world-famous Bay Area rocks tell a geologic story that reads like a Russian novel with a very large cast of characters. Because of our plate tectonic history, we have a crazy-quilt pattern of rocks almost defying description and order.” With these words, Doris Sloan, adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley (and Bay Nature author), sets herself a daunting task in writing Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region. But she succeeds wonderfully in describing the complex geology of the region—and making it accessible to readers at all levels of understanding.

Basic knowledge of local geology is key to understanding our landscapes, but until now, there simply hasn’t been a comprehensive source for laypeople on this topic. Thankfully, now there is. The book tells the story of the Bay Area’s geologic foundations through clear and engaging prose, easy-to-read figures and maps, and helpful photographs by fellow Bay Area geologist John Karachewski. The first three chapters give the reader a succinct yet thorough introduction to the processes, time scale, and rocks important to understanding Bay Area geology. The following chapters elucidate the region’s varied and remarkable geologic landscapes, including ice age dune sand in San Francisco, recently subsided land in the Santa Clara Valley, and the veritable maze of earthquake faults in the East Bay. To make the concepts and descriptions more tangible, Sloan gives examples in publicly accessible places readers can visit. Her expertise, enthusiasm, and gifted storytelling translate these landscapes into a lucid text that helps us better understand the foundations of our Bay Area home.

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