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Geoscientist Online

Geological Belts, Plate Boundaries, and Mineral Deposits in Myanmar

Mitchell MyanmarMyanmar’s geology is like a precious mineral jigsaw puzzle that has been scrunched together after completion. A few tantalising sections of structure are still joined and recognisable, smashed up with isolated pieces.  Andrew Mitchell is a geologist with a lifetime of patient field work, half of which has been devoted to his professional focus on Myanmar.  Consequently, few other guides could pick through this country’s geological jumble with such diligence to explain its stratigraphic sequences.

Broadly, Mitchell splits the country into two parts in his book, one east and one west of the Sagaing Fault.  His encyclopaedic knowledge and description of complex sequences and mineral deposits across this difficult and varied region are at odds with the few regions left blank due to inaccessible terrain, which have little or no geological maps, so here Mitchell broadly infers the structure.  

Mitchell’s unique purpose is to detail the stratigraphy and field geology of Myanmar, thoroughly, in one book.  He deliberately provides scant contextual history, production figures or economic colour to illustrate the country’s considerable global resources or geoheritage.  The Wa State’s mining of huge tin deposits in 2016, which temporarily tilted the axis of the global tin market, nor Myanmar’s possession of the ‘critical metal’ antimony, of which it is the second largest producer, are not relevant to the focus of this book, although Mitchell does briefly consider some areas of mineral potential.  A broader view of topics is found in the Geological Society Publication ‘Myanmar: Geology, Resources and Tectonics’ 2017 and a wide assortment of other titles mostly on petroleum and mineral wealth (I counted 37 in the Geological Society library dating from 1856). 

Other than field observations, Mitchell cites an extensive literature dating back many decades, including his own writing and collaborations and many unpublished sources.   Throughout the book, Mitchell tends to summarise formation episodes rather than describing a full deposit geology, so a gemmologist like myself would notice that Mitchell does not include the latest literature for his comments on ‘current views’ on the genesis of ruby and sapphire (Chapt. 7; Mogok Metamorphic Belt).  This is understandable given the broad sweep and ambition of the book as a whole.

The book is well illustrated: field photographs are relevant and helpful, and there are many clear, illustrative, colour schematics and maps. 

Reviewed by Jessica Cadzow-Collins


GEOLOGICAL BELTS, PLATE BOUNDARIES, AND MINERAL DEPOSITS IN MYANMAR by Andrew Mitchell, 2018. Published by: Elsevier 524pp. pbk. ISBN: 978-0-12-803382-1 List Price: £118.00. W: https://www.elsevier.com/books/geological-belts-plate-boundaries-and-mineral-deposits-in-myanmar/mitchell/978-0-12-803382-1