Spencer’s Guidebook Wins National Award

Edgar W. Spencer, professor of geology emeritus at Washington and Lee University, has received a national award from the Geo-science Information Society for his book, “Guide to the Geology and Natural History of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

The book, published in 2017 by The University of Virginia Press, was recognized as the best guidebook (popular) for 2019, where the layman is the audience. The award was announced at the society’s annual meeting in Phoeniz, Ariz., in September, 2019. Geologic field trip guidebooks covering any region produced during the two previous years are considered for the award. Books nominated are evaluated for outstanding content and adherence the criteria outlined in the “Guidelines for Authors, Editors, and Publishers of Geologic Field Trip Guidebooks” published by the society.

His daughter, Shawn Spencer, also played a large role in the creation of the book. She took on the job of developing the layout, preparing maps and illustrations, editing the text, and securing permissions. Many others, including former students, colleagues at W&L and other institutions, and experts from state and national agencies, provided a wealth of information and assistance. As completed, the book is nearly 400 pages long, contains over 800 color photographs, maps, and illustrations, and has an extensive set of references.

Spencer’s other works include the “Guidebook to Natural Bridge and Natural Bridge Caverns,” first published in 1985 and updated with a second edition in 2011. With the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council, he published a book, “The Homeowners Guide,” that provides information about a variety of subjects including soil, site location, and geologic hazards.

He has also worked on various mapping projects, including of the geology of Rock-bridge County and on revisions to several quadrangle maps for the state as part of the Statemap program for the U.S. Geological Survey. Other publications include textbooks for use in geology, earth sciences and map interpretation. He has collaborated on numerous other books, mapping projects and research over his years as a professor, and into his retirement, many dealing with the southern Shenandoah Valley area.

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