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Academic & Professional Books  Earth System Sciences  Geosphere  Structural Geology & Plate Tectonics

Structural Geology

By: Haakon Fossen(Author)
510 pages, 557 colour & 6 b/w photos and illustrations, 2 tables
Structural Geology is a beautiful, advanced-level textbook that provides a thorough induction into this subdiscipline using an excellent combination of text, imagery, and animations.
Structural Geology
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  • Structural Geology ISBN: 9781107057647 Edition: 2 Hardback Mar 2016 Usually dispatched within 48 hours
Selected version: £49.99
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About this book

This market-leading textbook has been fully updated in response to extensive user feedback. It includes a new chapter on joints and veins, additional examples from around the world, stunning new field photos, and extended online resources with new animations and exercises. Structural Geology's practical emphasis, hugely popular in the first edition, features applications in the upper crust, including petroleum and groundwater geology, highlighting the importance of structural geology in exploration and exploitation of petroleum and water resources. Carefully designed full-colour illustrations work closely with the text to support student learning, and are supplemented with high-quality photos from around the world. Examples and parallels drawn from practical everyday situations engage students, and end-of chapter review questions help them to check their understanding. Updated e-learning modules are available online for most chapters and further reinforce key topics using summaries, innovative animations to bring concepts to life, and additional examples and figures.


List of symbols

1. Structural geology and structural analysis
2. Deformation
3. Strain in rocks
4. Stress
5. Stress in the lithosphere
6. Rheology
7. Fracture and brittle deformation
8. Joints and veins
9. Faults
10. Kinematics and paleostress in the brittle regime
11. Deformation at the microscale
12. Folds and folding
13. Foliation and cleavage
14. Lineations
15. Boudinage
16. Shear zones and mylonites
17. Contractional regimes
18. Extensional regimes
19. Strike-slip, transpression and transtension
20. Salt tectonics
21. Balancing and restoration
22. A glimpse of a larger picture

Appendix A. More about the deformation matrix
Appendix B. Spherical projections
Cover and chapter image captions

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Great induction that's beautifully presented
    By Leon (NHBS Catalogue Editor) 27 Feb 2019 Written for Hardback

    Planet Earth’s many landforms can be breathtaking to behold. Plate tectonics has given us a basic framework to explain their formation, but there is far more to this story than that. I recently mentioned wanting to learn more about geology, having shunned the subject in favour of biology at university. So, fascinated by photos of folded rocks that look like so many layered cakes that had an accident in a bakery, and freshly armed with some basic knowledge of geology after my recent reading of Essentials of Geology, Haakon Fossen’s Structural Geology seemed like a good starting point to deepen my knowledge further.

    If you know how to read them, whole landforms, individual rocky outcrops, and even slices of a rock examined under a microscope can reveal a detailed story of how they have formed. Rock deformation, then, is what the subdiscipline of structural geology is all about (this excludes structures produced by sedimentation or magmatic processes, though, once produced, these can later be deformed). The first edition of this book was published in 2010, but Fossen has not rested on his laurels. Incorporating feedback from readers, and adding an online module with animations, the second edition of this advanced-level textbook followed in 2016. The book is specifically intended for use in coursework and includes chapter summaries and review questions. But, as I found out, the book can also be tackled outside of a classroom setting.

    Fossen starts off with four chapters on the basics of strain (changes in length or volume of rocks) and stress (how the forces involved acted). These are probably the most technical, introducing basic matrix algebra and the graphical methods geologists have developed to analyse strain and stress and represent these three-dimensional processes on paper in a graph or diagram. Rheology, the mechanical properties of materials and how they flow under pressure and temperature, is one other basic cornerstone that is introduced.

    Fossen then breaks down his approach following the two main forms of deformation. Near the surface rocks behave in a brittle fashion, breaking and shattering as the Earth moves, and Fossen here discusses fractures, joints, veins and faults. At depth, under high pressure and temperature, rocks are more plastic and deform slowly by flowing. A short introduction to the basics of crystallography is needed here, after which Fossen treats structures such as folds, foliations, lineations, boudins, and shear zones. This catalogue of structures is then placed in the context of tectonics, explaining how these show up when plates collide, separate, or move past each other. Salt in rock form behaves rather differently from most other rocks, so Fossen dedicates one chapter to salt tectonics (for a fuller treatment see Salt Tectonics). Finally, he looks at restoration: how can you infer what rocks looked like before deformation?

    The above paragraph is full of jargon, but don’t let that faze you. Read through Structural Geology, and the terminology gradually will be demystified (even though I found it useful to have a copy of the Dictionary of Geology & Earth Sciences at hand). Before long I found myself casually reading about fracture mechanisms in the brittle regime and realising that these words meant something to me. The glossary helps, but it is especially the huge number of photos and diagrams that clarify much. Trying to describe movements and dynamic processes with words and static pictures will only get you so far, though. This is where the online module shines, as it contains a huge number of Flash animations. I can try to describe in words how a listric fault moves, or how boudins form, or I can show you.

    Structural Geology is more than just a technical catalogue of deformation processes, though. Obviously, there is the obligatory nod to the practical relevance of this knowledge for structural engineers and the fossil fuel and mining industries. What I found far more fascinating is what this book reveals about structural geology as a field of knowledge.

    First, Fossen stresses how important it is to make field observations. Geologists can do small-scale experiments with plasticine or putty, or they can artificially deform rocks and minerals under high pressure and temperature over the course of days or weeks. Similarly, there are plenty of options for simulations and numerical models. But all these are replete with simplifications and assumptions, such as idealised homogeneous materials. As in other disciplines, it is the only way to get to grips with the data. But how realistic are these experiments and models, especially given the extremely long time scales over which rock deformation plays out? Fossen reiterates throughout how important it is we continue to check this against real-world situations.

    Second – and as an evolutionary biologist I can appreciate this – structural geology is a historical and descriptive discipline. We look at (essentially) static structures that result from long and slow processes and we try to figure out what happened.

    Third, each chapter introduces one kind of rock deformation, but in the field you are usually looking at rocks that underwent several deformations, either simultaneously or sequentially. Figuring out what happened and in what order can be a challenge.

    Especially points two and three explain how we can have competing models for observations, and why geologists disagree amongst each other which is the correct explanation for the formation of observed geological structures.

    The last thing I want to remark on are the production values – it’s a beautiful book! Big, heavy, and with a sturdy binding, it is absolutely chock-a-block with full-colour photos and illustrations. And it comes at a very reasonable price, suggesting that the poor binding and high price of an undergraduate textbook like Essentials of Geology are unnecessary.

    Not being a geologist by training, it is hard to make hyperbolic claims about this book being the best. I have not read other books on this topic and am not familiar with the literature. I also have not used this book in the setting of coursework or field excursions. What I can say is that, even if some of the technical details might have gone over my head, Structural Geology does a tremendous job at explaining the subject, even to someone with a limited background in geology. The book has received rave reviews elsewhere and it is easy to see why – high production values, a well-structured and well-written text, and a supplementary online module with useful animations make this book a solid choice if you need to or want to read up on this topic.
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Haakon Fossen is Professor of Structural Geology at the University of Bergen, Norway, where he is affiliated with the Department of Earth Science and the Natural History Collections. His professional career has involved work as an exploration and production geologist/geophysicist for Statoil and as a Professor at the University of Bergen (1996 to present), in addition to periods of geologic mapping and mineral exploration in Norway. His research ranges from hard to soft rocks and includes studies of folds, shear zones, formation and collapse of orogenic belts, numerical modelling of deformation (transpression), the evolution of rifts, and studies of deformed porous sandstones. He has conducted extensive field work in various parts of the world, notably Norway, the Western United States, Sinai, and Brazil, and his research is based on field mapping, microscopy, physical and numerical modelling, geochronology, and seismic interpretation. Professor Fossen has been involved in editing several international geology journals, has authored over 100 scientific publications, and has written two other books and several book chapters. He holds the first Nordic Geoscientist Award and the Outstanding Paper Award (together with Basil Tikoff) of the Structural Geology and Tectonics Division of the Geological Society of America, of which he is also a Fellow. He has taught undergraduate structural geology courses and graduate and industry structural geology field courses for over twenty years and has a keen interest in developing electronic teaching resources to aid student visualization and understanding of geological structures.

By: Haakon Fossen(Author)
510 pages, 557 colour & 6 b/w photos and illustrations, 2 tables
Structural Geology is a beautiful, advanced-level textbook that provides a thorough induction into this subdiscipline using an excellent combination of text, imagery, and animations.
Media reviews

Advance praise for the second edition:

"This new edition of Structural Geology has filled in a few gaps in the excellent first edition and the author and publishers are to be congratulated on their efforts to produce a really up-to-date text in a most attractive format."
– John Ramsay, ETH Zürich

"This second edition has an impressive number of updates and improvements. Numerous color photographs and figures clearly illustrate concepts, while showing the inherent beauty of structures in the field. This is a book that cannot help but inspire students."
– Frederick W. Vollmer, State University of New York, New Paltz

"This is the best textbook in this field of the past decade. Both the book and the accompanying online resources have been extended with new topics and the animated e-modules are a fantastic extra teaching resource."
– Roger Soliva, Université Montpellier II

Reviews of the first edition:

"[...] the structural geology text that I have long been waiting for [...] this text truly shows the application of structural geology to real life academic and industry problems. It will go straight onto my syllabus as the required text."
– Bruce Trudgill, Colorado School of Mines

"Evaluate it? [...] I've already put a change order into our bookstore to change to it for my Structure class next Fall! It's awesome."
– Terry Naumann, University of Alaska

"If you only buy one structural geology textbook – this is the one to get. It's both theoretical and practical [...] with excellent illustrations and thought-provoking examples."
– Rob Butler, University of Aberdeen

"Gorgeous. Nothing less. Everyone in need of structural geology – and that's quite a few of us – will certainly find this book very useful. There is a good balance between text and figures, and the figures are very good, be it the photos, maps, graphics or principle sketches. It is simply a pleasure to read this book. Seldom have we seen such a user-friendly textbook."

"[...] Fossen is to be applauded for crafting a unique, high-caliber, and accessible undergraduate textbook on structural geology [...] beautifully illustrated, with excellent original color diagrams and with impressive color field photographs that are all keyed to locations and placed into geologic context [...] This book will likely get a lot of use; it is well written and priced right [...] an excellent, accessible introductory structural geology text that is admirably well illustrated and well written. It should prove to be a valuable resource for students and instructors alike."
Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union

"Once in a while, an extraordinarily superior book appears in the midst of other good books on a subject. Without a doubt, this is the case with this introductory structural geology work by Fossen. Most outstanding, the book provides a balance between soft rock and hard rock, discusses the field's relevance to basic and applied applications, and includes unparalleled illustrations and photos that are critical for instruction and understanding [...] It is the most student- and instructor-friendly work this reviewer has seen. Essential."

"The illustrations are plentiful and outstanding in multiple colors. Very seldom can one buy a book of this quality [...]"
– Richard Jackson, Environmental and Engineering Geoscience

"Lavishly illustrated in color, this textbook takes an applied approach to introduce undergraduate students to the basic principles of structural geology [...] Containing numerous end-of-chapter problems, e-learning modules, and with stunning field photos and illustrations, this book provides the ultimate learning experience for all students of structural geology."
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