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


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: