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The Variscan Orogeny - Extent, Timescale and the Formation of the European CrustVariscan Orogeny

ryduoThis Geological Society Special Publication presents 14 papers summarising the state of the art in our present understanding of the Variscan Orogeny.  In so doing the editors and authors of the volume have had to cover both the northern orogeny, which was characterised by Late-Devonian-Carboniferous rifting, subduction and collision, and the southern orogeny, which was affected by late Carboniferous collision and Permian wrenching.  The papers are an excellent mix, helping us develop our understanding and showing how there was a major switch in plate configurations at the Early-Late Carboniferous boundary.

The papers have been arranged to reflect the evolution of the Variscan system in both space and time.  In so doing they provide the readership with an insight into not only the similarities, but also the differences between the different orogenic events.  These have highlighted the individual tectonic, metamorphic and magmatic events across the European Variscides. 

The volume is a valuable addition to the subject as it seeks to explain both major Variscan realms.  In the introduction to the volume, the editors state that they hope the volume will contribute to “...the reconciliation of classical European geological wisdom with the plate tectonic paradigm.”  This has been achieved, with several new models being presented. 

There still remains much to be done on the Variscan Orogeny, but this volume is a superb addition to the subject.  I am confident that it will generate further interest and that some of the “open questions” presented in the conclusions of several of the papers will be suitable goals for future research in the subject.

The quality of the binding is as one has come to expect from the Geological Society, with the papers clearly set out in the double column format which is typical of the publisher.  There are a number of graphs, maps, sections and charts included with the papers and these have been produced very clearly.  It is good to see that the publisher has reproduced many of these in colour as it does help with their interpretation. 

The book makes an invaluable contribution to this area of study.  With the mixture of papers presented it allows a comparison of several different models and gives a suitable starting point for wider in-depth studies. 

I would recommend this book to anyone in the Earth sciences studying in this particular field.  I think that this book should be made available to undergraduates studying the complexities of the development of the European crust and should definitely be found on the bookshelves of all university geoscience departments.  The papers herein presented archives our knowledge and opinions on a complex subject at a specific point in time. 

Reviewed by Gordon Neighbour

The Variscan Orogeny - Extent, Timescale and the Formation of the European Crust.  Edited by: K Schulmann, J R Martinez Catalán, J M Lardeaux, V Janoušek and G Oggiano ISBN: 978–1–86239–658-6 Geological Society Special Publication 405 RRP: £120.00 Fellows price: £60.00 Buy online