SBCC Geology Staff Receives Best Geoscience Guidebook Award

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Photo: SBCC Geologist and administrative assistant Libby Gans (left) and geologist and Professor Emeritus at UCSB, Dr. Arthur Sylvester

SBCC Geology staff have literally put California roadways on the map in an award-winning guidebook. Libby Gans will receive the Geoscience Information Society Guidebooks Committee (GISGC) 2017 Best Guidebook Award (popular category) for co-authoring the book Roadside Geology of Southern California with geologist and Professor Emeritus at UCSB, Dr. Arthur Sylvester. The award will be presented to both authors at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, in late October.

Together, Gans and Sylvester compiled 400 pages comprised of 117 maps and illustrations and 193 high-quality geo-referenced photographs for the guidebook, an addition to the “Roadside Geology” series of books. The guidebook is designed for the curious layperson and written in road log form, enabling travelers riding along Southern California roads and highways to follow along, reading about geologic features as they are passing them. 

Sylvester photographed nearly all of the images in the book, some of which were taken with his drone and captured interesting perspectives. “The fact that we worked hard on aesthetically pleasing and accurate maps and graphics probably contributed to GSIS selecting our book,” says Gans. “It should also not go unmentioned that Art's writing is engaging and fun to read, making this book exceptional.”

“Before our Roadside Geology of Southern California came out, Mountain Press published Roadside books for nearly 30 other states,” notes Sylvester. “Southern California has some of the most interesting and best exposed geology anywhere in the world, but it had no comprehensive, readily available guide. 

“On a trip across the Mojave Desert in 2013, I guessed I knew enough about the geology there that I could write a ‘Roadside’ book,” Sylvester continues. “Once I started writing, I realized I would need a decade or two just to do the maps and illustrations — so I was exceedingly fortunate that Libby agreed to do all of that exacting work with me.”

Gans acquired her BS in Geology from UCSB, and has since produced geologic maps and figures for a variety of professional publications. She completed GIS, ERTH 171 and 172 at SBCC, and works in SBCC’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences as administrative assistant where she collaborates with faculty and staff to produce maps, field guides and other geologic materials for the Earth Science courses.

Why should students learn about geology in this day and age? “Studying the earth opens our eyes to the beauty around us,” says Gans. “I always find that the more I understand about what I'm looking at in natural science, the more interesting it is and the more beautiful I find it.”

Adds Sylvester, “Geology is the study of the Earth — the planet we live on and which provides us with the water, fuel, minerals and scenery that sustain life. It is critical and essential that we know and understand our home planet. Take a course in geology and the world will never look the same to you again!”

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