Rocks: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780198725190

Jan Zalasiewicz
160 Pages
111 x 173 mm
Pub date
Dec 2016
Very Short Introductions


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  • Looks at how rocks are formed, how they evolve, and how we can examine and glean histories from them
  • Covers metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rock, as well as minerals
  • Explores how rocks feature in nature and man-made structures, from plant pots to the Earth's crust

Rocks, more than anything else, underpin our lives. They make up the solid structure of the Earth and of other rocky planets, and are present at the cores of gas giant planets. We live on the rocky surface of the planet, grow our food on weathered debris derived from rocks, and we obtain nearly all of the raw materials with which we found our civilization from rocks. From the Earth's crust to building bricks, rocks contain our sense of planetary history, and are a guide to our future.

In this Very Short Introduction Jan Zalasiewicz looks at the nature and variety of rocks, and the processes by which they are formed. Starting from the origin of rocks and their key role in the formation of the Earth, he considers what we know about the deep rocks of the mantle and core, and what rocks can tell us about the evolution of the Earth, and looks at those found in outer space and on other planets. 


1: Primordial rocks
2: First rocks on a dead Earth
3: Earth surface processes: the making of sedimentary rocks
4: Rock transformations: the story of metamorphism
5: Rocks in the deep
6: Living rocks, evolving rocks
7: Rocks on other planets
8: Human-made rocks
Further reading

About the author: 

Jan Zalasiewicz, Senior Lecturer in Geology, Leicester University

Dr Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester, having previously worked at the British Geological Survey. A field geologist, palaeontologist and stratigrapher, he teaches various aspects of geology and Earth history to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is a researcher into fossil ecosystems and environments across over half a billion years of geological time. He has published over a hundred papers in scientific journals and is the author of several books for OUP, including The Earth AfterUs (2008), The Planet in a Pebble (2012) and, with co-author Mark Williams, The Goldilocks Planet (2012) and Ocean Worlds (2014).

"This is a thorough and succinct account, accessible to all who would like a concise introduction on a wide and highly researched topic — rocks... Zalasiewicz is a great storyteller who captures your imagination as concepts are explained using straightforward prose." - Amy-Jo Miles, Geoscientist

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