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Breakthroughs in Geology: Ideas that transformed earth science

6 December 2021

This important contribution describes various breakthroughs in geology by discussing not only the background to the breakthroughs, but also the circumstances surrounding the people who largely contributed to them. The book is meticulously organized and showcases the author’s in-depth knowledge. The descriptions, figures and illustrations are exceptional, and each chapter contains postscripts that provide supplementary details and concluding remarks, which in my opinion are a brilliant addition. An excellent glossary explains important geological terms. The volume focuses on various aspects of geology, geophysics, geochemistry and engineering geology, and should appeal both to researchers working in these disciplines, as well as to a general audience.

Geology is an accumulation of all fields of science, and so compiling this book must have been a difficult task—even for an experienced professor like Graham Park. For example, the second chapter explains the events leading to the breakthrough discovery of the origin of species, which depended on both geology and biology. Similarly, our understanding of mantle convection is linked to progression in the field of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie (chapter 4), while our knowledge of ductile shear zones (chapter 5) and fault kinematics (chapter 8) depends on an understanding of geometry and ellipsoid deformation processes.

An appreciation is given to the accuracy of earlier studies performed with less technological advancements, the results of which have been confirmed using advanced techniques in recent times. For example, it was during the 1950s that the age of Earth was estimated to 4.5 billion years ±100 years. The book also credits some of the unsung geoscientists like Vening Meinesz, who discovered gravity anomalies and later related them to the continental drift.

This book is a must read for everyone; not just for those with interest in geology, but also for those curious about the history of Earth and the scientists involved in deciphering the Earth sciences.

Reviewed by R. Arun Prasath

By: Graham Park (2019). Dunedin Academic Press, 262 pp. (hbk) ISBN: 9781780460765 PRICE: £24.99 FELLOW’S PRICE: £22.49 www.geolsoc.org.uk/MPBRK