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Geoscientist Online

Chemical Fundamentals of Geology and Environmental Geoscience

adstjSince the first appearance in 1989 of ‘Chemical Fundamentals of Geology’, Robin Gill’s textbook has become an established introduction to aspects of geochemistry familiar to undergraduate students of the Earth sciences.

Developed from the second edition, this revised volume retains the same overall structure and is presented in three main sections. The introductory first section (Chapters 1 to 4) outlines the basic scientific principles of physical chemistry appropriate to geological and environmental systems and processes. Particular emphasis is properly placed upon energetic considerations. Chapters 5 to 8 introduces the wave – mechanical view of atoms and types of chemical bonding that govern the distinctive properties displayed by minerals, melts and fluids.

The final section (Chapters 9 to 11) describes the chemistry of geological and environmentally significant elements, introduces the basics of isotope geochemistry and concludes with a chapter outlining element abundance and distribution on Earth and within the wider context of the Universe as a whole.

Demonstrated by the amended title, the third edition now emphasises the chemical foundations of environmental Earth science together with mainstream (or ‘traditional’) geology. This content modification mirrors the recent increase in student interest and the number of undergraduate courses now currently available in this subject area. The inclusion of a new chapter introducing basic isotope geochemistry highlights the importance of the application of isotope systems to the understanding of geological and environmental processes.

Most chapters have review exercise sections with answers provided in a separate glossary that aid the understanding of the chemical concepts outlined in the corresponding text. Textual ‘boxed sections’ are included for more advanced or interested readers. Appendices revising basic mathematical concepts, simple solution chemistry and chemical / element data-tables, (including symbols, units and constants used in the text) are also presented.

Gill’s revised edition continues to provide a solid and readily comprehensible introduction to the scientific principles of chemistry underpinning geology and environmental earth science. It is anticipated to appeal primarily to first year undergraduates in geology, earth and environmental sciences with little or no recent backgrounds in chemistry. The associated companion website allows access to fully downloadable PDF or Powerpoint files of all figures and chemical data-tables in the text, a feature that will enhance both teaching and study.

Reviewed by Mark Griffin