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Geoscientist Online

Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient

adfgTwenty years ago, an international group of geoscientists collaborated on Glaciated Continental Margins; An Atlas of Acoustic Images, an impressive volume which presented examples of a variety of glacial landforms in marine geophysical data. In the intervening years, advances in geophysical techniques have resulted in improved imaging of both the seabed and the shallow geological sequence. Additionally, the continual exploration of hydrocarbon prospects across the continental shelves has led to greatly increased data coverage.

Therefore, The Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms, published by the Geological Society, arrives as a timely successor to the 1997 publication.  A hardback, full-colour book running to 618 pages, the Atlas entirely succeeds in its task of presenting a comprehensive, detailed description of the variety and distribution of glacial landforms throughout the marine record.

The Atlas is logically constructed, naturally flowing from an introduction chapter explaining the fundamentals of geophysical techniques, through the descriptions and examples of landforms which comprise the main content of the book, onto the closing sections which investigate complete fjord-shelf-slope landsystems.

The approximately 180 fully-referenced contributions to the Atlas ensure a comprehensive treatment of every type of glacial landform, ranging from eskers, ice-sculpted bedrock, mega-scale glacial lineations and drumlinised bedforms of the fjord environment, to outwash fans and mass-movements located on the continental shelf and slope.

Geographically, the Atlas is most closely focused upon the Barents Sea, Norwegian Shelf and North Sea. However, it also more widely explores the high latitudes of both hemispheres, with a significant number of contributions from Antarctica and Greenland. Although the majority of landforms are contemporary-to-Quaternary in age, a small number of examples from the lower latitudes of North Africa relate evidence for widespread glaciation of this region during the Late Ordovician.

Every landform description is presented across a two-page spread, typically containing a condensed summary of a research paper. In comparison, more detailed landsystems occupy eight pages. Excellent quality data examples are provided throughout, utilising data from a range of marine geophysical sources (bathymetry and sidescan sonar coverage of the seafloor; shallow profiler and multichannel seismic of the sub-seabed geology). There does appear to be a relative lack of geotechnical sampling to 'ground-truth' the geophysics. However, this is more a reflection on the availability of geotechnical data rather than an oversight of the book.

This Atlas is a considerable achievement. It comes highly recommended to all working with marine seismic data from the high latitudes, and will serve those in both industry and academia equally well.

Reviewed by: David Vaughan

ATLAS OF SUBMARINE GLACIAL LANDFORMS: MODERN, QUATERNARY AND ANCIENT Edited BY DOWDESWELL, J.A., CANALS, M., JAKOBSSON, M., TODD, B.J., DOWDESWELL, E.K. AND HOGAN, K.A., 2016. Published by: Geological Society. 618pp (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-78620-0 Bookshop