by Hanna Bremer.
Zeitschrift für Geomorphology N.F., 2010, Vol. 54, Suppl. Issue 1. 337 p., 132 fig., 91 tab. Paperback.
The "Cologne Regolith Database" (CRD) is the result of more than twenty years research in the tropics by staff members and students of the Geographical Institute of the University of Cologne (Germany) under the direction of Prof. Hanna Bremer. It contains results for more than 1200 samples studied in detail in the field and the laboratory. More than 30 parameters, each comprising several components, were thoroughly studied and statistically evaluated. The final step of such large research programme is of course its synthesis, and this is exactly what we find in this book.
Weathering being the basis of all geomorphological processes, a dominant part of the book is devoted to this subject. Different aspects of weathering are discussed, based largely on mineralogical and micromorphological studies. After the characterisation of saprolites, their transformation to other regolith material, including soils, is discussed. This is followed by the analysis of erosional and morphogenetic processes on different rock types in different environments. Throughout the book the influence of parent material and enviromnental conditions is emphasised, without forgetting the role of the palaeoenviromnent.
A wealth of precise data is given. Therefore it is regrettable that for some concepts no precise definitions are given. For instance, the concepts of regolith versus saprolite and soil are not clearly delimited, and micromorphological descriptions do not use standard terminology. Also the identification of soils is not based on an international system.
The book contains many diagrams and instructive colour pictures of profiles and thin sections. (for the
latter images between crossed polarisers are shown) with extensive and instructive captions. The numerical system used for titles and subtitles (e.g. 10.5.3. Planar processes followed by 10.5.3.1. Field observation) makes the structure of the text very clear and cross referencing efficient.
"Geoecology in the Tropics" contains a large amount of qualitatively excellent data and new insights
concerning the genesis of tropical regoliths and their relationship with geomorphology. Extensive citation of less well known local publications opens new horizons, and compensates a rather limited referencing to international literature. Although this is not a traditional book on soils, it is most interesting and innovative with regard to soil formation in the tropics because of its global approach, and therefore highly recommended for pedologists, geomorphologists and ecologists working in tropical zones. Also for palaeopedologists and palaeoecologists working in temperate zones it is a most useful document.
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