Perhaps the most profound advances of Earth system science in recent years are in the constraint of process rates, primarily delivered via technological advances and painstakingly detailed analyses. Our former fuzzy appreciation of deep time can now have meaningful, relatively accurate calibrations. Earth's functions, at scales ranging from whole Earth to microns within crystals or glass and from billions of years to minutes, are now revealed, and this book constitutes the most up-to-date and useful compilation of what we now do, and do not, know. Authors suggest that the book provides ‘an introduction’ to the various approaches, with the ‘hope of opening new doors on the future’. But, more than this, the book actually gives a fascinating history of the Earth as well as interesting revelations of the physics and chemistry of Earth materials; the text and formulations are clearly written and the content uniformly well illustrated and referenced. Inevitably, there will, as hoped, be more wonder as we learn to read Earth history in closer detail and strive to anticipate Nature.

Timescales of Magmatic Processes is readily accessible at the level of advanced Earth science undergraduates and is a valuable compendium for all researchers concerned with Earth history and processes. There are 11 discrete sections following a brief introduction, and all of the 20 authors are at the forefront of process-timescale research; the book captures the ‘state-of-the art’. Unlike many compilations of related papers, the sections in this book have excellent introductions or mini-reviews, with clear accounts of concepts, models, formulations and methods and excellent use of parenthetic explanations of potentially unfamiliar terms. Brief summaries at section endings are helpful after what might, for some (like me), have been rather heavy going. A great feature—a particular strength—is candid explanations of limiting assumptions, problems, and unknowns and tasks for the future.

‘Core to Atmosphere’ implies comprehensive treatment of a diverse subject domain, and it is pleasing to find that the approaches employed are similarly disparate—not all concerning radionuclides, live or extinct, but also deploying other fundamental physical and chemical processes at atomic to solar-system scales. We learn about the solar system, Earth-Moon and Earth differentiation, as well as styles of melt segregation, ascent, ponding and eruption, and how we may or may not interpret inclusions in crystals or micron-scale compositional gradients. I had not imagined that certain trace elements may only diffuse <1 mm/Myr in mantle minerals, even at the high temperatures above the dry solidus. Hence, melt-crystal disequilibria are inevitable, and differing diffusion rates can account for radioactive disequilibria in basaltic rock, bearing on magma production rates.

The final chapter, concerning magma degassing, is particularly wide-ranging and instructive, especially if you appreciate bubbles. Timescales of gas loss range from seconds to decades, although magmas readily inherit gas from others that are degassing. The case for bubbles pre-existing in magma reservoirs is intriguing, and the range of possible interactions or degassing routes is perplexing. The ‘new’ fundamental significance of magma permeability is clear, when it is pointed out.

There is not much on the down side with this book. Disappointingly, there is little on atmosphere evolution, despite the title. There is a sprinkling of typos and grammatical errors, and it is a pity that, for reasons of cost presumably, all colour figures are clumped in one place, towards the end of Section 7, although grey-scale versions are in situ in their proper place.

I found this book attractive in scope, easy and useful to assimilate, and certainly highly interesting. It conveys the skills of its authors as well as their immense enthusiasm for their science; I recommend this book most highly.