Copyright The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Malta Historical Society]. 7(1977)2(175-176)

G. ZAMMIT MAEMPEL, An Outline of Maltese Geology, Malta, Progress Press, 1977, 44 pp., illus., 1.50.

T. H. Huxley once wrote that "the historical student knows that his first business should be to inquire into the validity of his evidence, and the nature of the record in which the evidence is contained, that he may be able to form a proper estimate of the correctness of the conclusions [p.176] which may be drawn from that evidence". In more than one way, the geologist is also a historian. He delves deep for evidence not in written records, but in that thin crustal veneer of our Earth which is accessible to man.

The vast body of evidence on geology is massed unlimitedly around us, but it takes a refined mind and a lot of scientific scholarship to sift the evidence, inquire into its validity, and assess correctly the conclusions provided by that evidence. Dr George Zammit Maempel, in this welcome addition to the rather sparse literature on Maltese geology, does exactly this. Most of the evidence he collected himself, and his familiar figure armed with camera and hammer and chisel is well known to quarry-owners and to frequenters of our geological sites.

The book acquires added interest by the pleasant way in which it is presented. It follows chapter by chapter the same sequence of the Geology Halls of the National Museum of Natural History of which Dr Zammit Maempel is Assistant Curator, and which he personally set up. The book is didactic without being pedantic, a no mean achievement when one considers the complexity of the subject. The first five chapters are devoted to local geology generally. The next chapters deal with the main rock-formations that make up the Maltese geological sequence. Of particular interest, and containing a considerable amount of original material, are the chapters dealing with the correlation of the Maltese stratigraphy to that of other countries both far and near, the historical survey of local geological maps, and soils and their deposits.

The book is amply illustrated by photographs mostly taken by the author himself. Some of them throw new light on already known aspects of local geology, whilst others, especially those of fossils from the author's collection and published for the first time, are of special interest to the more specialized reader.

This is a book which no visitor to the National Museum of Natural History should go without, and which no real lover of the Malta landscape should miss. The value of its many original observations, and the validity of its conclusions, are guaranteed by the author's scientific preparation and his scholarly acumen.

Michael Ellul