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Geoscientist Online

Structural Geology

gfhj,l.The importance of textbooks is quite often understated.  A crucial tool not only for lecturers and students, a good textbook remains valuable well beyond graduation - a memory-tool that reminds us of equations half-forgotten, and good-quality images and diagrams that are so often sorely lacking in online resources. 

Structural Geology by Haakon Fossen is one such textbook.  Ideal for learning, each chapter builds upon the one before into a coherent and comprehensive course.  However each is also self-contained, allowing a reader to delve into and explore any area in detail, perhaps for last-minute revision for an impending examination the following morning!  Above all, a textbook must deliver information clearly, and Fossen fulfils this requirement admirably.  There is no hint of overly verbose jargon-filled prose here. 

The book’s quality shines best through its diagrams and images.  Geology is a visual and physical science by nature, structural geology perhaps especially so; and to fully understand it requires good quality illustrations and colour diagrams.  Structural Geology is full of them - not just high quality images of structural formations, but also of diagrams and graphs describing the processes so much more lucidly than can be achieved even by the most elegant prose or set of equations. 

Fossen also maintains a website with a plethora of extra images, animated diagrams, and questions and answers that support the book (see reference below).  recent advances in structural geology have been made largely thanks to advances in imaging, and Fossen’s website highlights free programs that best make use of these developments in imaging and data processing.

The difference between the 1st and 2nd editions is not major.  Minor errors have been corrected, improvements made in formatting, and as you would expect, new advances have been incorporated.  One unexpected change is that many of the original images have been exchanged for new, allowing even better preparation for fieldwork.

Though by definition a textbook is bound to be a didactic volume, the lightness of Fossen’s prose means that it wears its intentions lightly – managing to entertain even the student in the midst of a heavy revision session. 

In short, when it comes to a set textbook for structural geology, Structural Geology will not fail you.

Reviewed by Gabriel D’Arce

STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY  (2nd Edn.) by HAAKON FOSSEN, 2016.  Published by Cambridge University Press. 524pp (hbk) ISBN-13: 978-1107057647 List Price: £50.  W: http://folk.uib.no/nglhe/