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Microbial Carbonates in Space and Time: Implications for Global Exploration and Production

Recent discoveries in ‘unconventional’ carbonate reservoirs such as the Lower Cretaceous pre-salt of the Campos Basin, offshore Brazil have stressed the importance of research into microbial carbonate (microbialite) deposits.  This Geological Society Special Publication not only succeeds in compiling a diverse range of 14 papers on the economic importance of microbialites; it also manages to place such deposits in a context that those with a background in carbonate sedimentology can appreciate.  This is evidenced by a well written and informative introduction that familiarises the reader with specialist terminology.  The reader is also informed of the limitations of the work presented - particularly important in a developing field. 

Microbialite deposits are found throughout the geological record, with the book addressing this as a series of case studies that spans the Neoproterozoic to the Cenozoic.  The papers in each section are varied, with subjects covered including facies association, stratigraphic architecture and petrophysics.  Each paper compliments the others found in this publication, with work ranging from the microscopic up to seismic in scale.  A pleasantly surprising inclusion by the editors is that of work on seismic and core from the Campos Basin microbialite discoveries.  The decision for companies operating offshore Brazil to release data into the public domain is an important one, as it allows those with an interest to finally study these previously classified and enigmatic deposits.

Overall, the quality of the publication is excellent, with the majority of figures reproduced in colour.  Each paper is well written with clear, engaging figures.  Of particular note is a paper on Ediacaran microbial carbonates, which contains eye catching annotated field photographs and schematic models that are a joy to read.  As a minor point, some papers are printed in black and white and although not illegible, certain figures may lack the same impact as those printed in colour.

This comprehensive Special Publication is an ideal starting point for anyone who is interested in microbial carbonates.  It effectively summarises the combined knowledge of academia and industry and is applicable to both.  At present, the majority of readers will be postgraduates already involved in related studies.  However, in the future this book will become increasingly relevant to undergraduates as frontier microbialite plays become the norm in the oil and gas industry.  This work will undoubtedly pave the way for exciting developments in our understanding of a long overlooked section of carbonate sedimentology.

Reviewed by Jack Stacey

MICROBIAL CARBONATES IN SPACE AND TIME: IMPLICATIONS FOR GLOBAL EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION by: D W J BOSENCE, K A GIBBONS, D P LE HERON, W A MORGAN, T PRITCHARD AND B A VINING.  Geological Society Special Publication 418 (hbk).  ISBN: 9781862397279.  List Price: £90.  Fellows Price: £45.  W: www.geolsoc.org.uk/SP418