Wind ripples on sand, alternate bars and river meandering, calcareous concretions and oil seals, banded skarns, banded structure in intrusive bodies, oscillatory zoning of crystals… do these have anything in common? The participants at the Geochemical Self-Organization Workshop held at the University of California, Santa Barbara (June 27–July 1), presented theoretical, experimental, and observational results and debated models and theories to answer this question and beyond.

The conference was superbly organized by Peter Ortoleva of Indiana University at Bloomington and was attended by 50 scientists from both academia and industry. More than 40 papers on a wide range of topics were presented by mathematicians, chemists, physicists, chemical engineers, and biologists, as well as geologists. The topics included bifurcation theory and the mathematical basis for nonlinear reaction-transport modeling; natural convection, kilometer-scale patterning in sedimentary basins and diagenetic reaction-transport systems; geomorphic patterns; patterns in magmas; metamorphic differentiation and mechano-chemical systems; reaction front patterning; and oscillatory crystal zoning.