Even to a devotee such as me, BGS Survey memoirs cannot be considered as an exciting read. On the library shelf, leather-bound, generally dog-eared, volumes, some over a century old, jostle uncomfortably with their larger, thinner, and more brightly coloured successors, and there are large gaps in the available coverage. So what is the value and purpose of such works?

Memoirs should be available for each published geological map, hence their original designation as ‘Sheet Explanations,’ and were introduced well over a century ago to explain and illuminate the geology of a map sheet. They are a distillation of the...

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