Petrology of sedimentary rocks by Sam Boggs Jr. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009. No. of pages: x+600. ISBN 978-0-521-89716-9 (hardback).


PETROLOGY OF SEDIMENTARY ROCKS by SamBoggsJr. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009. No. of pages: x+600. Price: £50.00. ISBN 978-0-521-89716-9 (hardback).

Tony Adams*, * School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

This is the second edition of a book first published in 1991. The publisher's description on the back cover claims it to be a comprehensive text, revised with reference to new ideas and ‘cutting-edge techniques such as cathodoluminescence imaging of sedimentary rocks and backscattered electron microscopy’. These techniques are a welcome addition to the book, but have been around for many years and can hardly be described as ‘cutting-edge’.

After a general introduction to the origin, classification and occurrence of sedimentary rocks (Part I), Part II (about half the book) is devoted to siliciclastic sedimentary rocks, divided into chapters on sedimentary textures, sedimentary structures, sandstones, conglomerates, mudstones and shales, provenance and diagenesis. Part III is devoted to carbonates, divided into three chapters on limestones, dolomites and diagenesis. Part IV consists of two chapters, one on evaporites, cherts iron-rich rocks and phosphorites, and one on carbonaceous sedimentary rocks. From this, the reader will deduce that there is little on sedimentary processes or facies in this book. Sometimes a little bit more interpretation would have been welcome. For example, the different types of bedform are described in the chapter on sedimentary structures, but there is little interpretation in terms of flow characteristics.

This is not the sort of book to sit down and read from cover to cover, but a work of reference to dip into from time to time. Naturally I first looked at the parts dealing with the rocks of most interest to me, the carbonates. On the whole I found it to be an excellent and up-to-date summary of carbonate petrology. The text is easy to read and, in addition to describing, for example, limestone classifications, the author offers his views on the strengths and weaknesses of the original classifications, and their various modifications, and this stops the writing from becoming too dry. The author makes a good case for his substantial (nearly 100 pages) coverage of the ‘minor’ sedimentary rocks in view of their economic importance, and the information they give about the evolution of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. This is an area which often receives brief treatment and it is particularly valuable to have this comprehensive, up-to-date summary.

The book is commendably free of errors, and fully illustrated with line drawings and photographs. The figures are mostly recognizable as direct copies from original publications; re-drafting them in a house style would have improved the appearance of the book. The photographs are all reproduced in black and white, and mostly these are adequate, although in some hand specimen and field photos it is difficult to make out features described in the captions. Some colour illustrations would also have much improved the appearance of the book.

According to the author's preface the book is aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and perhaps also professional geologists. I think Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks meets these aims. It is too detailed and specialized to meet the demands of most UK undergraduate courses in sedimentology, which mostly focus on sedimentary processes and environments, but will be an invaluable source of reference particularly for project work. The price is reasonable amount to pay for such a substantial, information-packed book.