Book Review — Thermodynamics in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Thermodynamics is a vast subject with a long and complex history. It is now about two hundred years since the general acceptance of the ideal gas equation of state (PV = nRT) (e.g., Biot 1816) and the discovery of limiting behaviour in the high temperature heat capacity of elemental solids (Petit and Dulong 1819). Since then, empirical thermodynamic laws and statistical thermodynamic models have revolutionised our understanding of a myriad of physical and chemical processes and material properties. Thermodynamics underpins much of our modern lifestyle and our understanding of the natural world. It plays, in the words of Russian Nobel laureate in chemistry Ilya Prigogine, “a fundamental role far beyond its original scope” (Prigogine 1977).

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Handbook of Luminescence Dating

Quartz and feldspar are ubiquitous and amazing minerals because they record a stored signal that can be accessed to establish the time that elapsed since that mineral was last exposed to sunlight (or heated from ~100 °C to 400 °C). In the Handbook of Luminescence Dating, a cast of expert-practitioners explore the wide range of luminescence dating applications that are employed by Quaternary scientists, archaeologists and geologists.

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Mont Saint-Hilaire: History, Geology, Mineralogy

About 40 km east of Montreal in Quebec (Canada), the modest hill named Mont Saint-Hilaire (MSH) reaches only 415 meters. But the quarry on its northeastern flank is one of the world’s richest mineral localities, having yielded up 434 species and 66 type minerals. There are only two locations with more type minerals: Långban (Sweden) has 74 type minerals, and Tsumeb (Namibia) has 72. It was a pleasure receiving the new monograph on MSH: it is about 650 pages long, weighs in at ~2.3 kilograms, and is packed with thoroughly documented text and excellent photos.

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Book Review — Clays in the Critical Zone

The Earth’s oldest rocks are those which formed in the time interval 3.0–4.0 billion years ago in the mid- to early Archaean Eon. Traces of anything even earlier, which would be from the Hadean (>4.0 billion years ago), are fragmental and preserved only in detrital zircon grains and in the isotopic memory of now long-extinct isotope systems. The time interval 3.0–4.0 billion years ago is a crucial stage in Earth history, for this is when the first continents formed, when life began, and was a time during which tectonic processes were quite different from modern (Phanerozoic) plate tectonics due to the different thermal state of the young Earth.

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Book Review — Earth’s Oldest Rocks (2nd Ed)

The Earth’s oldest rocks are those which formed in the time interval 3.0–4.0 billion years ago in the mid- to early Archaean Eon. Traces of anything even earlier, which would be from the Hadean (>4.0 billion years ago), are fragmental and preserved only in detrital zircon grains and in the isotopic memory of now long-extinct isotope systems. The time interval 3.0–4.0 billion years ago is a crucial stage in Earth history, for this is when the first continents formed, when life began, and was a time during which tectonic processes were quite different from modern (Phanerozoic) plate tectonics due to the different thermal state of the young Earth.

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Book Review — Encyclopedia of Geochemistry

The field of geochemistry has grown rapidly over the past few decades, driven by significant advances in new analytical techniques, theoretical calculations, laboratory experiments, and the development of geochemical databases. This impressive growth has been further accelerated by the urgent needs of almost all the Earth sciences that use geochemistry to find resources, mitigate environmental impacts, and decipher physico-chemical processes in the Earth and the solar system. The massive two-volume Encyclopedia of Geochemistry: A Comprehensive Reference Source on the Chemistry of the Earth, edited by William M. White, is, thus, very timely and highly relevant. It represents a comprehensive update on the 1999 version, which was edited by Clare P. Marshall and Rhodes W. Fairbridge.

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Book Review: The Role of Halogens in Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Geochemical Processes

To expand your knowledge base, I strongly recommend reading The Role of Halogens in Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Geochemical Processes (Springer, 2018). This remarkably comprehensive compilation of papers has been edited by Daniel E. Harlov (GFZ Potsdam, Germany) and Leonid Aranovich (IGEM RAS, Russia) and has opened my eyes to the many roles that halogens play in geochemical processes across a wide range of geologic environments. What makes this collection of papers unique is the diversity of subject matter, all focused on halogens, but with contributions from authors whose paths never likely cross at scientific meetings.

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Minerals: A Very Short Introduction

Minerals: A Very Short Introduction by David J. Vaughan is one of a series of over 400 volumes of “very short introductions” on a large variety of topics published by Oxford University Press. Begun in 1995, the volumes are meant to have an expert author present an introduction to a topic “for anyone wanting a stimulating and accessible way into a new subject”. This book certainly hits that mark and is a very effective introduction to mineralogy; indeed, the book should be required reading for the lay public and, particularly, for scientists outside of the broad discipline of mineralogy.

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RIMG 82: Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes

Thirteen years ago, in 2004, the book Geochemistry of Non-Traditional Isotopes [Volume 55 of the Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry (RiMG) series] was published. Since then, tremendous advances in multi-collector inductively coupled plasma (ICP) mass spectrometry has made the precise measurement of additional isotope systems possible. This, together with advances in the calculation of equilibrium isotope fractionation using ab initio methods, has led to an unbelievable increase of publications, making it hard for the interested reader to keep up. Therefore, the publication of Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes (RiMG 82) is highly welcome.

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Marine Geochemistry

Climate change, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, marine “dead zones”… for better or worse, the Anthropocene is certainly proving to be an interesting time for marine science, and particularly for marine geochemistry. Add to this the advent of vast and vastly accessible information, as well as technological advances in analytics and computing, and you are left with a virtually endless potential for scientific inquiry. And certainly the field of marine geochemistry is growing in all directions, as researchers push the boundaries of the science. Marine geochemists can now measure how isotopes of elements found in the oceans at pico-molar levels vary across entire ocean basins, and model what this implies for global change over millennia past and those to come! Heady times to be a marine geochemist. More importantly, it is a critical time to teach and inspire the next generations of marine geochemists so that they may keep forging ahead. As such, Marine Geochemistry by Roy-Barman and Jeandel comes at an opportune moment.

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