Under Ohio: The Story of Ohio's Rocks and Fossils (Review)

Charles Ferguson Barker (Ohio University Press)

Jan 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

That kid — you know, the one who collects rocks and digs a hole in the backyard just to see what's there — will like this book. Author Charles Ferguson Barker is a geologist who, I suspect, never got over wanting to know what he'd find if he dug a hole. He's also not a half-bad illustrator, with drawings that look as though they might have been done by a really talented grade-schooler: clear and colorful with what you want to know, if what you want to know is what's underneath Ohio.

"Just north of Cincinnati, the last glacier stopped and left hills of sand and gravel," he tells us. "Under the city itself are some of the world's richest fossil beds, laid down by shallow seas that covered Ohio more than 400 million years ago. We can see rocks from those ancient seas in the cliffs cut by the Ohio River."

Some of the oldest remnants of the past have been found in our southwest corner of the state, where the record goes back 505 million years. In fact, the oldest rocks in Ohio are in our neighborhood, but very deep, and are more than a billion years old. The book includes a useful page showing common rocks — sandstone, limestone, granite — and how to tell them apart and another page illustrating common Ohio fossils.

I used to have a trilobite on my kitchen windowsill because it helped to keep things in perspective, time-wise, so I know it's good to know one when you see it. There's also a directory, by county, of where to find Ohio's geology and a good glossary of terms.