Glacial Processes, Past And Present

Glacial Processes, Past And Present

Sedimentary Geology 139 (2001) 169±170 Book Review Glacial Processes, Past And Present Special Paper 337 of the Geolog...

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Sedimentary Geology 139 (2001) 169±170

Book Review Glacial Processes, Past And Present Special Paper 337 of the Geological Society of America; D.M. Mickelson, J.W. Attig (Eds.); Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, USA, 1999, vi 1 203 pages, Paperback, ISBN 0-8137-2337X, US$ 38.00 The 1997 International Quaternary Union (INQUA) symposium on paleoglaciology is the basis of this book, which is meant to help foster communication and cooperative work between glacial geologists and glaciologists. This objective is well chosen because Ð as the editors state in their preface Ð ªin the last 20 years, few attempts have been made to incorporate glacial geologic constraints into glaciological models or to place physical constraints on hypotheses expounded by glacial geologistsº. The book comprises 18 chapters, written by 51 authors. This might suggest that the book is representative for the community of researchers in the ®eld. It is not, however: 48 authors come from the US, 1 from Canada, and 2 from Eastern Europe (1 from Ukraine and 1 from Estonia). This is not necessarily a shortcoming, but in this case it is. The references, for instance, are clearly US-biased, which is unfortunate because high-quality research is carried out elsewhere in the world as well; studies from outside NorthAmerica are, however, largely neglected (although, obviously, not completely). This reduces, in my opinion, the value of the book as representing the state-of-the-art in this ®eld. It can, however, not be excluded that it has not even been the intention of the GSA and the editors to provide an overview of present-day insights. In this case, however, they should have chosen another title for the book: it promises more now than it delivers. This is also expressed by the topics dealt with. Only three of the contributions are thematic. These are the chapters written by Alley, Strasser, Lawson, Evenson and Larson (Glaciological and geological implica-

tions of basal-ice accretion in overdeepenings), by Dreimanis (Need for three-dimensional analysis of structural elements in glacial deposits for determination of direction of glacier movement), and by Lowell, Hayward and Denton (Role of climate oscillations in determining ice-margin position: hypothesis, examples, and implications). These three chapters provide excellent information and good overviews. One could only wish that all 18 chapters had been written with the same intention to overview a speci®c problem, to inventory the attempts to solve it, and to discuss potential ways to tackle the still unsolved parts. There is, fortunately, another group of four chapters that make the book interesting. These are the chapters by Ensminger, Evenson, Alley, Larson, Lawson and Strasser (Example of the dependence of ice motion on subglacial drainage system evolution: Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, United States), by Evenson, Lawson, Strasser, Larson, Alley, Ensminger and Stevenson (Field evidence of the recognition of glaciohydrologic supercooling), by Titus, Larson, Strasser, Lawson, Evenson and Alley (Isotopic consumption of vent discharge from the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska: implications for the origin of basal ice), and by Lachniet, Larson, Strasser, Lawson, Evenson and Alley (Microstructures of glacigenic sediment-¯ow deposits, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska). All these papers deal with aspects of one single glacier. This makes this `special section' within the book valuable, because of the interrelationships. The four contributions make up about one quarter of the book. In my opinion, it would have been more satisfactory, for both the authors and the readers, if these four contributions would have formed part of a book devoted entirely to the same glacier. Ideally, with other researchers of the glacier included as authors as well, and dealing with all relevant aspects of the glacier, so that a good insight into the glacier as a physical and geological entity would have been obtained. That would have been a truly valuable contribution to better communication

0037-0738/01/$ - see front matter q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S 0037-073 8(00)00156-1


A.J.T. van Loon / Sedimentary Geology 139 (2001) 169±170

and cooperation between glacial geologists and glaciologists! With seven papers dealing with either a thematic subject or the Matanuska Glacier, it leaves 11 chapters dealing with a variety of topics, all based on local research and of local interest. This does not imply that these contributions are not interesting, but it is not clear at all why they have been included in a book with this title. The INQUA has never been really successful in publishing proceedings. The technical quality was often poor, the material was sometimes published so late that the material had already been outdated, and the books gave often insuf®cient value for money. It may be that INQUA has opted for the way publishing proceedings in the form they do in this book: a collection of items presented at a meeting, but published without an indication on the front cover that the challenging/intriguing/promising title in fact re¯ects proceedings. In this case, the book is both well edited and well printed. The front cover is just beautiful, and several

* Tel.: 126-339-0908; fax: 126-339-0783.

pages with 4-color photographs make the book visually attractive. And the various contributions all have a quality that meets international standards. Yet, I was disappointed when I had ®nished reading the book: it did not cover the ®eld of glacial processes, which I had expected to ®nd. And what is worse, the editors and publisher did not even fail in this respect, because they did apparently not even try to cover the subject. The GSA should know better. Let us hope that this is a once-but-never-more-like-this publication, because if this approach would become a trend, libraries would stop buying books on the basis of titles, even if published by respected publishers or societies. A.J. (Tom) van Loon GEOCOM B.V., Benedendorpsweg 61, P.O. Box 336, 6860 AH Oosterbeek, Netherlands E-mail address: [email protected] 9 May 2000; 20 July 2000