The evolving continents: understanding processes of continental growth, edited by T.M. Kusky, M.-G. Zhai and W. Xiao. Geological Society Special Publication, 338, London, 2010. No. of pages: 414. Price: UK£100-00. ISBN 978-1-86239-303-5 (hardback).


Brian Windley's epic journey through Earth history, The Evolving Continents, is now in its third edition tracking the tectonic history of our planet from its core to crust, and the evolution of the biosphere and surface processes. A central theme to this best-selling textbook and Windley's research career over nearly 50 years is the true interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of our science. The Evolving Continents: Understanding Processes of Continental Growth is a substantial tribute, by the Geological Society, to Brain Windley's career, edited by three of his colleagues based in China where he worked for a significant part of his career. It illustrates and reflects an odyssey from the basement of south-west and west Greenland to the high Himalayas, punctuated by some unique tangents of discovery. These include, not surprisingly, the key locality of the polymath Karl Ludwig Giesecke (one-time First Slave and possible librettist of Mozart's Magic Flute and later Professor of Mineralogy in the Royal Dublin Society) for sapphirine-bearing rocks in south-west Greenland.

Following an informative preface, containing Brian's own account of his career highlights, and an explanatory introduction, 17 papers are arranged into five main sections: oceanic and island arc systems and continental growth; tectonics of accretionary orogens and continental growth; growth and stabilization of continental crust: collisions and intraplate processes; Precambrian tectonics and the birth of continents; and active tectonics and geomorphology of continental collision and growth zones. The book takes us through all manner of continental and oceanic processes from the evolution of arcs and continents to landscape development in collisional zones, providing state-of-the-art knowledge and models in these areas illustrated by some of the most spectacular geology on our planet. The book is superbly illustrated, well indexed, and in the main immensely readable, a lasting monument to multidisciplinarity in deep-time travel.