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Deborah Hardin's textbook on California geology is superior to all previous texts inasmuch as she is the first to utilize the theory of plate tectonics to provide a unified framework for her overall exposition. Instead of being bombarded with an encyclopedic but chaotic assemblage of rock types and unconnected microprocesses, the reader is treated to a consistent and comprehensive picture of how California came to be that hangs together remarkably well.
Harden utilized the recent research of countless other geologists to put together this book, and her hard work has paid off. She includes several chapters that provide a conceptual overview of geologic principles, then goes on in successive sections to describe how various forces and processes related ultimately to plate tectonics have been responsible for the evolution of various distinctive landforms and geomorphic regions of California. She also includes a final chapter that is a stand-alone summary version of the "geological history of California." Throughout the book, she makes clear again and again how a clear understanding of the various ways that tectonic plates can interact is absolutely fundamental to understanding how California has come into existence over the past several hundred million years. It's a fascinating story, and Harden's text will help anyone willing to read carefully and study a bit to learn the basics of California geology.
As an added bonus, Harden has included several sections that are linked to present-day environmental hazards, most notably those related to the constant threat of earthquakes in the Golden State. Such information is, of course linked directly to the geology of the state that she has described and explained so well.
The illustrations and diagrams re not terribly elaborate, but they are helpful and reasonably plentiful. Also included are some small-sized versions of the standard California geology and fault maps.
The main drawback to this publication is its astronomical price. This is hardly Harden's fault, however, as high prices seem to be the unfortunate standard for college textbooks these days.
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on February 5, 2012
I bought this textbook to study for the California section of the PG exam. It definitely helped. I enjoyed the final section that presented concepts from previous chapters in a grand-scheme California geologic history. It's not state-of-the-art research, but it's good enough to help wrap your head around the big picture without getting bogged down in too many details.

Several figures were pulled from other sources and didn't list acronyms or explain how they related to the subject. They looked good but didn't help understand the topic. I also felt like information about some topics was scattered throughout the book; so I really needed to read the whole thing to pull it all together in my mind.

I would recommend to anyone with an introductory geology education or a professional who needs to brush up on their regional geology.
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on June 30, 2014
Finally found a book explaining how my state was made. I've been looking in bookstores for several years with no success, so I turned to the internet, found this title right away. It's pricey, as are all textbooks, but it answers all my questions (at least, what science has found, so far). It's also a perfect fit with my California geography textbook, approaching each area through the same province names, descriptions. Now I have both a physical and geographical understanding of California. Also, I was amazed that Amazon sent it out "regular" delivery and it arrived within two days of my ordering it!
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on May 1, 2015
Needed it for a class; therefore had to buy it. Otherwise, I would not recommend it for personal use or knowledge unless one is an expert already. Definitions are not cleared and many concepts/processes are not explained well.
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on April 11, 2009
As an amateur geologist, living part-time in CA, this book is an excellent primer that goes over the basics of that great state.
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on March 9, 2013
Great California Geology book! The book is not only for geology students, but also for others planning to travel through California, because of its clarity and organizational.
I greatly recommend having the book handy before travelling to California sites to better appreciate the morphology of the California provinces in relation to the underlying tectonic forces.
I would love to have it on my kindle.
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on May 7, 2014
I'm not an expert in the subject matter but I thought the book was very well written. The collection of pictures and illustrations was truly awesome. The only significant down side was that the font was too small. Not everyone is blessed with 20-40 vision and tired old eyes like mine had to struggle. Also, there was no Kindle option for this book.
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on January 31, 2016
A fantastic tome which explains the geological evolution of California available at an unjustifiably high price for a textbook.

I'll stick with my fifteen year old first edition of the book until such a time as the cost comes down to a point at which novices, amateurs and poor students might reap the rewards of this very well done book.
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on January 9, 2014
This textbook was recommended for studying for the California PG Exam. Hopefully I pass with this textbook. It is an easy read.
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on March 12, 2014
This is a great overview of California geology! I highly recommend this book for both students, non students and educators.
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