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Geoscientist Online

Geophysics for the Mineral Exploration Geoscientist

fadgThere is now no shortage of books covering the theory and application of exploration geophysics, and new additions need to have their Unique Selling Points. For this book the USP has to be the number and quality of the illustrations. Financial support from industry sponsors has allowed colour to be used everywhere, and the importance of captions that do actually explain the figures has been well recognised.

Following an introduction and a general treatment of the features of data acquisition, processing and interpretation common to all methods, there are individual chapters on gravity and magnetics, radiometrics, electrical and electromagnetic methods and seismics (dominantly seismic reflection). There are some slightly odd omissions from this list, and I searched in vain for magnetotellurics, ground radar and seismic refraction. It took me a little time to discover that these are treated (and well treated) in the online appendices.

Presumably their selection for the web-site only is based on the authors’ assessment of their relative utility, and workers on some types of mineral deposit might well disagree. The division has, however, one interesting consequence. Since these methods are discussed in the open access part of the web-site, you can learn about them (but not about the ones chosen for print) for free. You do not have to buy the book!

This is a competent, well-written and, within its chosen, deliberately limited field, comprehensive volume. And yet - I would be reluctant to buy it, or recommend it. My reason is a simple one. Once again, Cambridge has elected to allow only university course directors who are using it as a course text to access significant parts of the online resources.  It is not even clear what this restricted material is, because those outside the magic circle have no way of finding out. But on the website it is stated that CUP ‘need to enforce this strictly so that solutions are not made available to students’.  

Now this is not a book for schoolchildren.  It is aimed at postgraduates and advanced undergraduates, and at people already working in the industry. These users are being short-changed. Moreover, the decision displays a dispiriting failure to understand what a university is actually for, to an extent almost unbelievable in a publisher that still claims to be a University Press. To deliberately place off-limits some of the routes to self-study is incompatible with the very idea of university education. It would be barely acceptable if applied to a text for Sixth Forms.

Reviewed by John Milsom


Published by Cambridge University Press: June 2014
ISBN 978-0-521-80951-1 438 pp.
List Price £45.00