Tectonics of sedimentary basins, recent advances by Cathy Busby and Antonio Azor Perez. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, 2012. No. of pages: 664. Price US$149.99. ISBN 978-1-4051-9465-5 (hardback).


I had a sketchy memory of the old Tectonics of Sedimentary Basins, edited by Cathy Busby and Raymond Ingersoll, and published by Blackwell in 1995, since neither myself nor our library had a copy. No matter, the preface to the new Tectonics of Sedimentary Basins, Recent Advances provides directions for online access to the original (well done to the publisher for making it freely available) and recommends that book for undergraduates, with the new book considered more appropriate for advanced researchers. To an extent, this is good advice. The revision is more expansive in contributions and number of speciality topics. Thirteen chapters in the original have now become 31. Neatly arranged into five ‘parts’, topics range from U–Pb geochronology, cosmogenic nuclides, magnetostratigraphy and 3D-seismic interpretation (Part 2), to rift basins, intracontinental transtensional basins, and passive margins (Part 3), forearc basins, transtensional continental arcs and foreland basins (Part 4), and interior poly-phase basins and cratonic basins (Part 5), with examples including the Laramides and SW USA, East Africa, Atlantic margins, Western Canada, Andes and Tibet … and that is not even an exhaustive list! These four parts are preceded by an excellent introduction to the tectonics of sedimentary basins in a chapter by Ingersoll. However, a revised (and useful) nomenclature is presented in this introduction, but this renders obsolete some of the terminology that is in the precursor text. In this instance, the advice directing undergraduates to the old text is less useful; the students would end up confused, learning out-of-date terms and material.

There are some weaknesses. There is always going to be a limit as to how many subjects can be covered in detail (the book is already a hefty tome) and editors are not always successful in getting contributions from leading experts in every relevant subject area. But I would have liked to have seen more of the selected case studies illustrating changing sedimentation with evolution of the tectonic regime and more relating to sedimentation in settings where the tectonic interpretation or influence is more contentious. The impression this reader got was that everything fits too neatly into particular classifications. Readers looking for significant information on salt tectonics will again be disappointed. Certainly such subject matter does not easily fit into a single plate-tectonic classification so, with better coverage, it would probably need its own ‘part’. However, I think a ‘part’ on salt rather than a ‘part’ on techniques and modelling would have produced a more focused product. And I have one major complaint. The book has many large, often colourful, clear and well-proportioned diagrams, yet photographs of stunning outcrop are often reduced to small quarter page, or less, scale. Good observations lead to better interpretations and models. So let us see the rocks! Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile addition to any sedimentologist's library.