This book was born out of a 2014 meeting of earth science educators representing most of the universities and colleges in British Columbia, and nurtured by a widely shared frustration that many students are not thriving in our courses because textbooks have become too expensive for them to buy. But the real inspiration comes from a fascination for the spectacular geology of western Canada and the many decades that I have spent exploring this region along with colleagues, students, family, and friends. My goal has been to provide an accessible and comprehensive guide to the important topics of geology, richly illustrated with examples from western Canada. Although this text is intended to complement a typical first-year course in physical geology, its contents could be applied to numerous other related courses.
As a teacher for many years, and as someone who is constantly striving to discover new things, I am well aware of that people learn in myriad ways, and that for most, simply reading the contents of a book is not one of the most effective ones. For that reason, this book includes numerous embedded exercises and activities that are designed to encourage readers to engage with the concepts presented, and to make meaning of the material under consideration. It is strongly recommended that you try the exercises as you progress through each chapter. You should also find it useful, whether or not assigned by your instructor, to complete the questions at the end of each chapter.
Over many years of teaching earth science I have received a lot of feedback from students. What gives me the most pleasure is to hear that someone, having completed my course, now sees Earth with new eyes, and has discovered both the thrill and the value of an enhanced understanding of how our planet works. I sincerely hope that this textbook will help you see Earth in a new way.
Steven Earle, Gabriola Island, 2015
I am grateful to the members of the BC Earth Science Articulation Committee for their encouragement and support during this project, and to the following colleagues from institutions around BC and elsewhere for acting as subject matter experts and chapter reviewers: Sandra Johnstone, Kathleen Jagger, Tim Stokes, Cathie Hickson, Michelle Lamberson, Casey Brant, Alan Gilchrist, Deirdre Hopkins, Todd Redding, Duncan Johansen, Craig Nicol, John Martin, Mark Smith, Jeff Lewis, and Russel Hartlaub. I am also grateful to Karla Panchuk of the University of Saskatchewan for conceiving and writing Chapter 22, The Origin of the Earth and the Solar System.
I thank the staff of BCcampus, especially Amanda Coolidge for her excellent guidance and devotion to this project, and also Clint Lalonde and Lauri Aesoph.
And finally, I thank my family for inspiration and help, especially Justine and Kate, and also Isaac, Rosie, Heather, and Tim.