A toast to a crust guide

Tectonics
April 26, 1996

This book provides a well-organised, clearly written introduction to the large-scale processes of deformation of the earth's crust, from plate tectonics to the structure of mountain belts and sedimentary basins. It is aimed at undergraduates and is a companion to Structural Geology by the same authors.

I am not sure I share the authors' view that scale separates "tectonics" (large scale) from "structural geology" (small scale) when terms such as "microtectonics" are widely used; "Global Tectonics" may have been a better title.

Many books tell the story of plate tectonic theory, but few provide a comprehensive account of the underlying science. This book fills a gap. It is in three parts, with an interlude between parts two and three in which the authors discuss "the scientific method and the plate tectonic revolution". Part one provides an overview of tectonics and a brief outline of the geophysical techniques necessary for its understanding. Part two constitutes the main part of the book and covers plate tectonics, with separate chapters on divergent, convergent and strike-slip margins, triple junctions and collisions. Part three is about tectonic history with a general discussion of orogenic belts, case studies and interesting chapters on neotectonics and the tectonics of terrestrial planets. The subject matter will be familiar to anyone who has taught or taken a university course in global tectonics, but to find it all in one textbook is a welcome addition.

The material is logically arranged and very well illustrated. Concepts are developed from first principles and illustrated using the best worldwide examples. This makes the book international, with any bias towards North American examples being justified by the scientific data available.

Emphasis is put on the key research that led to the development of a particular concept. This gives the bibliography a strong bias towards work from 1970 to 1985 - the "mature stage" following the plate tectonic "paradigm". Exceptions are the chapters on neotectonics and the tectonics of terrestrial planets, which have undergone significant advances over the past decade, particularly with the advance of space technology.

David Sanderson is professor of geology, University of Southampton.

Tectonics

Author - Eldridge M. Moores and Robert J. Twiss
ISBN - 0 7167 2437 5
Publisher - W. H. Freeman
Price - £29.95
Pages - 415

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