Top critical review
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Life in the real world...
on September 1, 2003
"Geodynamics" has been a classic text in the field of, well, Geodynamics since the first edition came out, and it remains a brave attempt to squeeze a large amount of detail into one volume. In many ways however, this attempt is misguided. The material suffers from overcrowding in many chapters, and different approaches are used to solve the same problem, giving wildly different answers, with no attempt made to qualify which method is accepted as the most realistic.
A fairly comprehensive set of questions are liberally sprinkled throughout each chapter, although the one-number answers at the back of the book are usually insufficient, and some brief explanation would greatly enhance user-friendliness.
The main problem I found with this textbook however, is the inability to link the numerical methods presented with real world situations. The complexities of plate deformation for example are reduced to a set of sections on beam-bending, with little or no attempt at the end to draw the lessons learnt from the exercise back into some meaningful discussion of how the earth behaves. This is a common failure of analytical approaches to Earth Science problems, that the construction of a mathematical framework becomes an end in itself, and that real data are ignored or manipulated to shoehorn them into the predictions of the model. "Geodynamics" is a good summary of the techniques used to try to understand the workings of the earth, but often leaves one with a hollow feeling that one hasn't really learned anything about the earth itself at the end of each chapter.