Introducing Mineralogy

I have been fortunate enough to review for this magazine a large number of books from the Dunedin series of guides introducing aspects of the different sciences, especially the earth sciences. And Introducing Mineralogy continues the high standard set by its predecessors. It is slightly larger than some of the other guides in the series, but is still beautifully illustrated, nicely written and very informative.

In this short guide, the author – John Mason – tries to explain the essence of the science of mineralogy, starting with the basic chemistry of minerals and the classification of the mineral kingdom. He then considers the ways minerals occur, both typically, such as the minerals making up common rocks like granite, dolerite and basalt; and atypically, such as concentrations of rare metals in deposits of ore. He also covers the ways in which minerals are studied, for example, using petrographic microscopes and scanning electron microscopy. And he discusses the importance of careful observation and interpretation, together with the topics of mineral collecting and sundry related issues. The final chapters deal with the uses of minerals, both for both industrial and scientific purposes; and take a look at environmental issues associated with mineral extraction and usage.

John Mason is a geology graduate, who cut his teeth studying the old mines in the hills and valleys of mid-Wales. He is currently an honorary research fellow at the National Museum of Wales, in Cardiff.

Dunedin tells me that the books in this series are intended for three main groups of readers. They are scientifically sound overviews of their subject for the interested adult; they may be useful as course text books for those taking a short course option in the subject (especially as a ‘minor’); and provide an overview for aspiring scientists thinking about which degree course option they might like to take.

Like all the others books in the series, I would recommend this little guide to anyone who considers themselves as falling within any of those categories and, indeed, to everybody fascinated by the lure of minerals. And, if you, like me, have been collecting these guides, you will now have a really attractive library of excellent little reference guides to the many aspects of the science of geology and related disciplines.

Introducing Mineralogy by John Mason, Dunedin Academic Press, Edinburgh (2015). 118 pp, softback, ISBN: 978-1-78046-028-4