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Millsaps Professor Writes Travel Companion about Mississippi’s Roadside Geology

by Web on May 18, 2017

Ever have questions about Mississippi’s geological history and geology as you’re traveling throughout the state?

Roadside Geology of Mississippi, a 288-page paperback book written by Dr. Stan Galicki, professor of geology at Millsaps College, and Dr. Darrel Schmitz, professor of geology at Mississippi State University, and published by Montana-based Mountain Press Publishing Co., may hold the answers to your questions.

“The book is intended to be a travel companion and to give general audiences an overview of the state’s geological history and geology from the highway,” Galicki said. “We cannot incorporate every highway, but focus on the major roads. When we travel to other states, we often pick books in this series because it helps us teach while on the road.  We can’t possibly know the name of every exposure we see, so I will throw the book to a student and tell them to read to us as we pass by.”

The book traverses the entire state, from the Gulf Coast to Woodall Mountain, the state’s highest point (807 feet) in the northeast corner, and includes sites such as the rocky outcrops of Tishomingo County, the “Grand Canyon of Mississippi” near Foxworth, and Wilkerson County’s waterfalls.

Galicki names Red Bluff in Marion County as a favorite site because of all its vivid colors.

“I also like the Mississippi Alluvial Plain -- the Delta -- specifically anywhere on the bluff line where you can get a good overlook,” he said. “Although there is a good general understanding of the evolution of the Mississippi River, there is so much more to know.”

Galicki said he and Schmitz split evenly the work to produce the book. 

“Darrel spent the early years traversing the state, from about 2005 -2009, and then I came on board in 2010,” Galicki said. “We both share a tremendous admiration for what each other accomplished.”

Galicki wrote the introduction to the book, drafted the maps and figures, and edited the road logs of Schmitz.

“Roadside books were originally printed in black-and-white and figures were two color,” Galicki said. “I figured it would be a relatively simple project.  Mountain Press went to full-color, high-resolution figures and photographs the year we signed on. This complicated the workload greatly as all of the photos had to be retaken because the resolution on Darrel’s early photos was too low for them to print well.”

Galicki said the book taught him a lesson in how difficult it is to achieve perfection in a printed publication. 

During a field trip to north Mississippi after the book was released, Galicki said he read aloud from the book after students had questions while crossing the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

“I knew I had incorporated some information on the feature,” he said. “I was reading along and then all of a sudden…the sentence ended.  Somehow between my final edits and the printer, the last six words got dropped.  We went back through the book and found three more errors that somehow got introduced after our final hard copy edit. The editor assured me that the typical first edition has up to 20 errors, so four was not bad.  It took me a while to get over it.”

The book is available for purchase directly from Mountain Press Publishing Company as well as on Amazon.