Geochemical Thermodynamics



This textbook is designed for first-year graduate students, with the authors' stated objectives of emphasizing the basic principles of thermodynamics and describing these principles within a geochemical framework. The book admirably achieves these goals. It also fills a gap in geoscience textbooks since other books on the topic are either out-ofdate, out-of-print, somewhat specialized, or lack coverage of major aspects important to geochemistry. It is a friendly book.

For at least the past two decades, thermodynamics has become an integral part of geochemical investigations and this will almost certainly continue and increase. Students with advanced degrees in many fields of geoscience will be seriously handicapped if they are not able to critically read and understand articles that include thermodynamics and interact with colleagues who use this tool. Unfortunately, it is typically necessary to introduce students to the subject through a course designed for chemists or physicists. Such courses usually involve detailed, sophisticated derivations and problem solving that is theoretical or uninteresting to the geoscientist, a general flavor that that diverges considerably from the needs pertinent to geochemistry. Phase equilibria, solid solutions, and aqueous electrolyte solutions, are often given little, if any, attention. Students generally return from such an experience “wrung out” and unsure of the purpose for taking the course. To make the experience useful, the topics not covered must then be presented by the student's department with considerable rehashing of the basic principles. This unfriendly process is largely overcome by Nordstrom and Munoz with consistent use of geologically pertinent examples, minimization of derivations, emphasis of geochemical thermodynamics, a personal style of writing (“you” and “we”), and scattered humor such as the earthy example of the second law on p. 40 and the cartoons of “perplexed penguins” at the end of each chapter.