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Title: The Cambridge Handbook of Earth Science Data
Author(s): Paul Henderson and Gideon M Henderson
Date of Publication: 2009 Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Pages:xiii + 277 ISBN: 978 0 521 69317 2
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Educator







Content: 1 – The solar system; 2 - Solid Earth; 3 - Geophysics; 4 - Aqueous Earth; 5 - Gaseous Earth; 6 - Biological Earth: element cycles; 7 - Earth History; 8 - Chemistry and isotopes; 9 - Crystallography and mineralogy; 10 - Resources; 11 - Hazards.

Review: There comes a time in all educator's lives when students ask seemingly simple questions but for which there is no readily available answer. Many of these start with the "how many" or "how much" openers that lead on to something that should be well known but which you can't quite find at the time! This book is one answer to issue but it works on a range of levels.

Put simply, this book is a collection of facts - lists of items that provide the basic parameters of the planet. Divided into 11 chapters, the reader is given answers to all the main aspects one should be aware of. Starting with the solar system we are given 20 tables covering the system and its planets, the Moon and meteorites starting with elemental abundances through planet and Moon composition to meteorite analysis. Chapter two focusses on the geosphere - the Earth and its chemical composition. Here the focus is on composition, relative abundances and numerous diagrams outlining rock nomenclature and classification. Chapter three continues this theme but with the physical properties such as densities and resistivities. This is followed by an examination of the main features of the hydrosphere and atmosphere respectively. Up to this point, most of the work is an orderly listing of proportions and properties. Chapter six takes relatively brief look at the biosphere with classification of species and several diagrams for biogeochemical pathways. This is followed by a far longer and detailed description of geological time. There are several tables covering, in some detail, the breakdown of geological time, extinctions and other key geological events such as igneous provinces and orogenies. There are also numerous maps and diagrams showing the development of plate tectonics and the impacts of ice ages. Chapters 9 and 10 are linked through their coverage of mineral groups in all aspects from composition and abundance to crystal system. Two brief chapters finish the text. 'Resources' covers the key minerals in current usage whilst 'Hazards' lists major eruptions, earthquakes etc. and their impact.

This is a very interesting text but an extremely difficult one to review. One of the major issues with projects such as this is what to include/exclude. Items seen as obvious to one worker might be arcane and obscure to another. Chapters will not be of even length because of the material needing to be covered. Also, there is some evidence e.g. chapter six, that more could be included. In fairness one could also say that there is no 'right' answer here and different authors would produce a different list. That aside this is a great text. It does answer those questions that inquisitive minds often ask and as such is invaluable (like a Guinness Book of Records for Earth Science!). It has also brought into one slim volume information that is standard to sub-disciplines in Earth Science but not always easy to pinpoint in a hurry. Data will be of use in a very wide range of settings from school to research lab and for general interest. Anyone with a regular need for key information in this area should make sure they have a copy of this book.





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