Cornelis Klein and Anthony Philpotts
Cambridge University Press
2013 | 533pp | £40
Earth materials promises a comprehensive text on mineralogy and petrology for single-semester university courses in geology, earth science and environmental science, and it delivers on almost all fronts.
The text is well organised, lucidly written, and beautifully illustrated with full-colour figures. The authors have taken care to describe the main properties and occurrences of all key minerals found in igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Each mineral type is accompanied by a drawing of its crystal structure and attractive photographs of specimens.
Yet, this book is far more than a handy overview of rock-forming minerals. Comprehensive background information on crystallography and methods for mineral identification provide students with the tools to name their minerals with a high degree of confidence.
Polarising optical microscopy remains an important tool for mineral identification and it is therefore somewhat unfortunate that the macroscopic images of the minerals are not accompanied by thin-section examples of these minerals. However, such microscopic images are plentiful in other chapters that explain how the minerals make up igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, and how these rock types are formed within a plate tectonic framework and, to a much lesser degree, within a climatic framework.
Some sections are too short to be of much use (for example, Soils and Oil and natural gas). These are exceptions, however, as the bulk of the text is relevant, highly educational and a stimulus for further study. Each chapter ends with a summary, review questions and suggestions for further reading, which will be appreciated by students.
There are many other books on mineralogy and petrology, but as a modern text that shows the scientific relevance of rocks and minerals, and places them firmly within system Earth, this book is among the best. It comes highly recommended for advanced courses that build upon introductory courses in earth science and physical geography.
Buy Earth materials: introduction to mineralogy and petrology from Amazon.co.uk