Minerals - their constitution and origin

Minerals - their constitution and origin
Hans-Rudolf Wenk and Andrei Bulakh
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004 | Pp 668 | ?95.00 | ISBN 0521822386
Reviewed by Stephen Roberts

An enjoyable mineralogy book - surely not? Mineralogy books provide essential information to the undergraduate student studying Earth materials. However, in my experience, undergraduates tend to regard them as a necessary evil. This book aims to shake off this perception by linking mineralogy and the importance of minerals to our everyday lives and providing an introduction to mineralogy for graduate and undergraduate students in the fields of geology, material science and environmental science.

At the outset the authors put mineralogy in its modern context, noting its relationship to such other areas as geology, petrology, biology, chemistry, physics and material science. The next 600 pages explore each of these avenues and consequently this book provides a fundamental introduction to subjects as diverse as: point group symmetry, crystal forms, polymorphism and phase transitions, through to the formation of sulfide deposits and the mineral composition of the solar system!

Despite the breadth of scope, I found all the detail required at undergraduate level. In fact, the chapter on the identification of minerals with the petrographic microscope was extremely well written and illustrated. Similarly, the chapter on analytical techniques is an ideal starting point for the undergraduate student.

I think this book represents a sound undergraduate investment - a text book that an undergraduate could visit and revisit throughout their degree programme, to remind them of the basics and, by following up the references, to provide a deeper understanding of the subjects covered.