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Sedimentary Basins and Crustal Processes at Continental Margins

airygOf the 11 papers in this book, 10 were originally presented at a session of the 34th IGC held in Brisbane in 2012.

Editors of conference volumes face very special problems. The papers submitted can vary enormously in quality, and may not relate very directly to each other. Editorial choice is crucial, and was, in this case and in the editors’ own words, based on the idea that the selection should deal ‘with big-picture issues and whole-of-margin regional syntheses’.

As the main title of the book suggests, the intended picture is very big indeed, and it was surely unwise of the editors to follow four papers in a first section entitled ‘Extensional continental margins: their architecture, basins and evolution’, which is clearly within the scope of the book, with a three-paper section entitled ‘Sedimentary basin formation in other plate-tectonic settings’, which is not. The final four-paper section, ‘Fossilized ancient analogues of rifted continental margins and their mantle substrate’ includes one paper, on the ophiolites of the Indo-Burman ranges, which, while interesting and well written, is completely out of place in the volume. The lack of a clear unifying theme implies that although every one of the papers is going to be of interest to someone, there will be very few readers with in-depth interests in more than about half of them.

The secondary title of the book refers specifically to hyper-extended margins, and may catch some eyes, as this is currently a very ‘hot’ topic. However, the five or six papers arguably in this category approach it from such different angles that the ‘big picture’ is largely obscured. Three involve the identification of former hyper-extended margins in complex onshore situations and are necessarily partly devoted to convincing readers that hyper-extension actually occurred.

In one other respect the editorial judgement is questionable. Eleven pages of a paper on the Songliao Basin are devoted to tabulations of U-Pb datings of detrital zircons, and there are several other examples of lengthy listings of data of interest only to specialists (and different specialists in each case). An additional paper could have been accommodated in the space used up in this way, and the editors’ preface suggests that there was no shortage of suitable candidates. Publication space is scarce, which is why the Geological Society provides facilities for the storage and on-line retrieval of supplementary data. Every printed page should be made to count, especially when, at the volume’s list price, each one costs the purchaser about 30p!

Reviewed by John Milsom

SEDIMENTARY BASINS AND CRUSTAL PROCESSES AT CONTINENTAL MARGINS: FROM MODERN HYPER-EXTENDED MARGINS TO DEFORMED ANCIENT ANALOGUES by G. M. GIBSON, F. ROURE & G. MANATSCHEL (Eds.) Geological Society of London Special Publication No 413. 2015. Published by the Geological Society of London: ISBN 978-1-521-86239-720-0 Hardback Book 338 pp. List Price £100.00  www. geolsoc.org.uk