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The Psychologist's Just Been

It is unusual to find a title of this type in a book review section of a geological magazine.  However, the essence of the book is essentially a semi-autobiography of a mineral exploration geologist. 

The book does not even attempt to discuss the psychology of the field geologist's mind, which is probably a good thing!  It does, however, give an excellent insight into the life of a field geologist over a period of almost 40 years.  Each chapter is essentially an anecdotal story that indirectly maps the author's career and it makes a fascinating and interesting read.  Because each chapter focuses on a different aspect of his career, it is an easy book to dip into from time to time without losing track of the overall story

The author's search for diamonds and gold has taken place predominantly in Africa, Australia and China.  Often set in remote and isolated wilderness, attempts to interpret the local geology in the search for minerals frequently become secondary to avoiding snakes and explaining to the local cook that macaroni cheese is not usually served as a frozen dessert. 

Even when not working in the wilderness, the author is to be found crawling around one of the deepest gold mines in the world in a setting that would drive most modern health and safety officers to distraction, or dealing with extraordinary levels of bureaucracy in communist China.  The anecdotes are witty and enlightening, giving the reader a fascinating insight into the career of a mineral exploration geologist.

One of the most interesting things to emerge is that the author's career has taken him to locations far from well-trodden tourist trails and during periods of significant social change.  Scenarios and situations throughout the book are recorded with insight and wit and the author is always sensitive and respectful of all the cultures and traditions he encounters.  It is, in fact, a valuable record of social and political change throughout this period.

The book does tend to jump from continent to continent rather abruptly; but once the reader gets used to this style of writing, it is an excellent read and one that can also be recommended to those without any knowledge of or expertise in geology.

However, if you are hoping for an in-depth psychological analysis of the mind of such a geologist, you should maybe head for a different section of the library.

Reviewed by Tim Tubby

THE PSYCHOLOGIST'S JUST BEEN by TOM LINDSAY.  2015 Mirador Publishing.  210pp, Pbk.  ISBN-10: 1911044427 ISBN-13: 978-1911044420.  List Price: £8.99.  Kindle edition £3.99. 


Chemical, Physical and Temporal Evolution of Magmatic Systems

Field observations and pioneering high-temperature experiments undertaken a century ago by Norman L Bowen founded the basis of modern igneous petrology.  Bowen’s work concluded that the chemical differentiation of magmas was primarily controlled by the settling-out of crystals from molten rock in magma chambers and the squeezing out of residual liquid. 

This crucial initial insight into the chemical and temporal evolution of magmatic systems informed and underpinned subsequent research on igneous differentiation: magma chambers behave as crystal-poor ‘boiling vats’ in the crust where crystals, bubbles and melt separate gravitationally, heat dissipated to their surroundings initiating crystallisation, driving igneous differentiation. 

Since 1915, research advances in the physico-chemical properties of sub-volcanic magmatic systems coupled with rapid technological development have fundamentally revised our understanding of this simple model.  Igneous petrologists now recognise this paradigm is rare with most natural magmatic systems primarily existing in partially molten (‘mushy’) states, as serially arranged and variably interconnected storage regions, periodically replenished by different fluxes of magma and heat.  Complex interplay in these fluxes and variations in physico-chemical properties as they rise through and navigate the crustal system, provide the dominant controls on magmatic differentiation and the eventual igneous materials produced.

This volume presents the modern understanding of the chemical, physical and thermal evolution of crustal magmatic/volcanic systems derived from recent research advances in igneous/metamorphic petrology, geochemistry, geochronology and numerical/thermal modelling.  Introduced with a contextual overview paper, the volume contains 10 recent contributions organised into four fully-indexed thematic sections: 1: magma fluxes and phase equilibria, 2: phase equilibria, physical properties of magma and melt extraction, 3: architecture of subvolcanic reservoirs and 4: volcanic conduits.

A thorough review of contemporary developments within this field, the anticipated readership is expected to be from postgraduate researchers and professional academic geoscientists specialising in igneous petrology and petrogenesis, geochemistry and allied disciplines.  All contributions are well-written and edited, with clear and appropriate figures, photographs and data-tables, augmented with a spectacular cover photograph as a bonus!

In summary, the inherent complexities of the evolving perspective of magmatic systems reveal an account of ‘mushmatism’ more than magmatism.  A fascinating and recommended read.

Reviewed by Mark Griffin

CHEMICAL, PHYSICAL AND TEMPORAL EVOLUTION OF MAGMATIC SYSTEMS by CARICCHI L and BLUNDY, J D (editors).  Geological Society of London Special Publication No 422.  2015.  Geological Society of London.  ISBN 978-1-86239-732-3.  Hbk.  223pp.  ISSN 0305-8719.  List Price: £100.00,


Seismic Reflections of Rock Properties

This book provides a comprehensive and accessible guide to the application of rock physics for seismic analysis and interpretation to aid in the search for hydrocarbon reservoirs in oil and gas prospecting.  It starts by introducing the reader to the basics of rock physics-based forward modelling before moving on to more advanced topics such as practical approaches to frontier exploration, advance rock physics applications and computational rock physics (an evolving technique). 

The book is 324 pages long with seven main sections broken into 19 chapters overall.  It is beautifully prepared and well-illustrated throughout.

Dvorkin, Gutierrez and Grana initially discuss the rock-physics-based forward modelling approach following three basic steps:

    Varying rock properties systematically (such as lithology, porosity, rock type, pore fluids, reservoir geometry etc.) to generate synthetic seismic traces; Comparing these synthetic seismic traces to actual seismic traces from a wide database of field examples; Drawing conclusions based on the idea that similar seismic traces are generated by similar physical rock properties in the sub-surface, which allows the inference of rock properties from actual seismic traces.

The overall outcome of this method is to generate an accurate geological and geotechnical model (‘pseudo-wells’) of the subsurface.  Various case studies based on real well data along with sample synthetic seismic reflections (such as silicilastic and carbonate rocks) from key realistic reservoir models provide a helpful reference catalogue for the reader.

This small hardback book is logically laid out and includes an extensive set of references, highlighting how well published the authors are on the subject of rock physics - particularly Jack Dvorkin!  Numerous figures are presented throughout the text and help illustrate the highly technical subject; however the graphs are typically presented on a small scale due to the A5 dimensions of the book and some finer details maybe lost.  A nice surprise was the inclusion of the direct hydrocarbon indicator checklist within the appendix, as this provides a useful reference for practical application by the reader.

The book is well written and reasonably priced (particularly the kindle version).  It provides more of a reference volume than ‘light reading’ for a non-specialist and as such I would recommend the book to experienced petroleum geoscience professionals.

Reviewed by Caroline Mason

SEISMIC REFLECTIONS OF ROCK PROPERTIES by JACK DVORKIN, MARIO A.  GUTIERREZ and DARIO GRANA, 2014.  Published by Cambridge University Press, 324pp ISBN 978-0-521-89919-2 Hardback List Price £51.00


Petroleum Geology of Libya

The first edition of this book was written by Don Hallett and published by Elsevier in 2002, at a time when diplomatic relations between Libya and the west were improving rapidly and a settlement was reached over Lockerbie.  Tripoli was a good posting and numerous conferences and fieldtrips made that edition a must-have travelling companion.

Personally I worked in and out of Binghazi until 2010 but lost touch with the exploration community at the start of the civil war.  The decade leading up to it saw significant advances in our knowledge of the four onshore basins and the offshore giants such as Bouri.

Hallett and Clarke-Lowes form the ‘dream-team’ in terms of regional knowledge and have continued to function at the forefront of geoscience in Libya, with access to new data, significant advances in exploration concepts and the interpretive gains in subjects such as sedimentology, sequence stratigraphy, palaeogeography, tectonics, and modelling.

The new edition has 347 colour figures, produced in the pastel shades successfully adopted by Nubian Consultancy.  This edition is divided into eight chapters and a labour-saving bibliography lists over 1200 technical papers.  The History of Oil and Gas Exploration (Chapter 1) is most informative and an essential read for the next generation of regional explorationists, setting a very high standard for the rest of the book.

Although the first Italian settlers and geologists were not welcome in pre-war Libya, the geologists led by Ardito Desio, Director of the Libyan Geological Survey 1936-1940, was first class, with Desio predicting that the Sirt Basin could be an oil province.  The first chapter also documents the events of successive decades from 1950 to 2015, detailing a host of concessions and licences with informative notes on the complex nature of Libyan names, well-nomenclature and given field.

Chapter 2 is an excellent account of the plate-tectonic history of Africa, with the emphasis on North Africa and Tethys.  It is beautifully illustrated and an essential lead-in to sections on Stratigraphy (3), Structure (4), Petroleum Geochemistry (5), Petroleum Systems (6), the Oil and Gas Fields of Libya (7) and Future Exploration and Exploitation Potential (8).

As before, these chapters are packed with detailed maps and cross-sections they are most pleasant to the eye and worth a fortune in terms information.  It is a masterpiece.  All explorationists should have a copy. 

Reviewed by Dick Moody

PETROLEUM GEOLOGY OF LIBYA: SECOND EDITION by DON HALLETT AND DANIEL CLARK-LOWES, 2016.  Published by:  Elsevier, 404pp (Sbk) ISBN 978-0-444-63517-4.  eBook ISBN: 9780444635198 List Price: US$252.00 (bundle),  Separately US$210.00


Mountain - Nature and Culture

This book, a volume in the Earth Series commenced in 2012 by Reaktion Books, takes a fascinating look at natural phenomena from some rather interesting angles.  These are not textbooks as such on floods, waterfalls, deserts, earthquakes, volcanoes and more besides, but beautifully produced volumes, copiously illustrated and crammed full of the most interesting and thought-provoking facts and observations.

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the volume Caves - Nature and Culture, I greatly looked forward to immersing myself in a companion volume about mountains.  Like many geoscientists and physical geographers I came into geology through an interest in the great outdoors as a walker and climber, and experienced wilderness country and its physical and spiritual impact early on in my career.

We should all, then, know exactly what a mountain is, shouldn’t we?  Well, all is not as it seems in the definition department and the contradictions and perceptions plunge us right into the subject from the first page.  What follows, according to the author, is a book presenting mountains in the light of “…the holy and the diabolical, life and death, vision and time, science, technology and heritage”.

Given the breadth of subject matter, the diversity of themes and the very wide factual spread for the author to draw on, you might be forgiven for thinking the subject is far too vast to cram into 264 pages.  But you would be wrong, for the author has produced a fascinating exploration of the impact of those, often colossal, crustal features we call mountains. 

Both real and imaginary, they have influenced human emotions, religious beliefs, scientific investigation and cultural responses; challenged human imagination and physical endurance and stimulated significant geological endeavour.  Here is a wonderful collage of facts and stories, skilfully and cleverly structured, appropriately and beautifully illustrated.

Nearly all of the magnificent mountains I have ever read about, seen or had the pleasure of climbing, appear to be mentioned in this book.  The text wanders over mountain ranges and peaks across the globe, drawing in cultural, religious, cartographic, artistic, scenic, biographic and much historic and geographic data.  It weaves a tapestry of anecdotal information, myths, linguistic detail, personal observations and scientific facts, and includes 137 illustrations, many of which are in colour.  Be prepared to learn much more about mountains that you never knew before, from a book that is a very well-illustrated ‘cracking good read’.

Reviewed by Chris Carlon

MOUNTAIN: NATURE AND CULTURE by Veronica della Dora, 2016.  Published by:  Reaktion Books Ltd.  264pp ISBN: 978 1 78023 647 6 List Price: £14.95



Industrial Structural Geology

Structural geology is an integral and influential discipline applied across a spectrum of geosciences.  Concepts and techniques derived and developed from structural geology are routine components in numerous areas of geoscientific investigation, ranging from the petrological thin section to the analysis of data derived by remotely sensed satellite observation. 

The scale of the discipline is of particular relevance when applied to the activities of the natural resource industries (especially the hydrocarbon, mining and hydrogeology sectors), where subsurface definition, quantification and extraction (or storage) of industrial or economic resources is essential.  Common examples of the industrial applications of structural geology include the interpretation of borehole-derived and seismic data to define the architectural geometries of hydrocarbon and mineral deposits, enabling the quantification of these resources and evaluate potential economic (and safe) techniques for their extraction.

With contributions from workers within academic institutions, consultancies and industry, this Special Publication provides a comprehensive synthesis of the current trends and predicted future direction of structural geology as applied to natural resource/industrial contexts. 

Introduced with an overview paper from the editors, the volume presents 16 papers organised into three fully-indexed thematic sections: industrial structural principles, industry techniques and workflows and structural integration and case studies from industry.  Diverse topics covered include trap definition, fault seal, fold-and-thrust belts, fractured reservoirs, fluid flow and geomechanics.

In summary, the volume demonstrates the current and continuing significance of the techniques of structural geology to the resource industries (particularly within hydrocarbon exploration and production), and the applicability of these techniques at all scales and ‘lifetime’ stages of a resource.  The volume additionally provides substantive insights into how structural geological ‘theory’ translates appropriately into industrial ‘practice’.

Providing an excellent overview of the ‘state of the art’ pure and applied developments within this important and evolving field, the expected audience is anticipated from both academic and industrial sector geoscientists.  The contributions are well-written and edited, complemented with appropriate figures, photographs and data-tables, features that one has come to expect from the GSL Special Publication series.  The editors and contributors are to be congratulated.  A recommended read.

Reviewed by Mark Griffin

INDUSTRIAL STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY:  PRINCIPLES, TECHNIQUES AND INTEGRATION by RICHARDS F L, RICHARDSON N J, RIPPINGTON S J, WILSON R W AND BOND C E (eds).  Geological Society of London Special Publication No. 421.  2015. Geological Society of London. ISBN 978-1-86239-733-9. Hbk. 267pp.  ISSN 0305-8719.  List Price: £100.00 (Fellows’ discount applies) W: