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Magnetic Susceptibility Application: A Window onto Ancient Environments and Climatic Variations

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As the opening line of the introduction to this book states, “Magnetic susceptibility is powerful tool” and, as such, its use in sedimentological research for palaeo-environmental studies and climatic reconstructions certainly unpins much of the recent literature.

Being a well-established technique, there are plenty of texts that cover the subject area and this particular Geological Society Special Publication complements these by providing detailed, up-to-date research articles that have a broader audience appeal.

The volume is comprehensive, with fourteen individual papers covering topics as varied as carbon/nutrient cycling in the late Devonian of Canada through to Mid-Jurassic carbonate ramp sedimentation in France. The geographical spread of the research is impressive with papers and data from China, Australia, Canada, EU, US, Russia and Iran. 

There is a distinct focus towards carbonate sedimentology, which is not surprising given the the subject area, but there are also articles on lake and clastic sedimentology to satisfy non-carbonate researchers and the wider geological readership.

Each article is supported by ample data and, in most cases, well-founded critical evaluations of the research findings.  The comprehensive nature of the data is a clear strength of the volume and I imagine that it will soon become a significant reference text for anyone working in palaeo-climatic sedimentary research. 

A word of caution though - it is not a text for the novice and although the opening article does provide a useful summary of magnetic susceptibility as a sedimentary research tool,  the more generalist reader will need to look elsewhere to build up their background technical and theoretical knowledge.

To me, the book misses a trick here as a good, well-referenced comprehensive review article on the theory and data-collection principles of the technique would have been an ideal partner to the more research-focused papers it contains.

Overall, the papers are very well-written, structured and illustrated and I particularly liked the editorial attention to detail where common units and terminology are used pretty much throughout the volume.  If I have one quibble, it is the poor resolution/size of some of the graphical illustrations; the text is simply too small to read comfortably.

In general, this is another high-quality Special Publication that will be used as a reference volume for years to come. It’s a must if you have an interest in magnetic susceptibility for palaeo-environment reconstructions, particularly in carbonates, but it does have wider applicability the sedimentary community – I very much enjoyed reading it. 

Reviewed by Nigel Cassidy

MAGNETIC SUSCEPTIBILITY APPLICATION: A WINDOW ONTO ANCIENT ENVIRONMENTS AND CLIMATIC VARIATIONS by A C DA SILVA, M T WHALEN, J HLADIL, L CHADIMOVA, D CHEN, S SPASSOV, F BOULVAIN AND X DEVLEESCHOUWER (eds). Geological Society of London Special Publication No 414. 2015. ISBN 978-1-86239-721-7. Hbk. 283pp.List Price: £100.00, Fellow’s Price: £50.00. W: www.geolsoc.org.uk/SP414.


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