Principles of Geochemistry

Principles of Geochemistry

Principles of Geochemistry

Principles of Geochemistry


Ottonello's text represents the broadest coverage of geochemistry yet published, and is the only book in the field to discuss interionic static potentials in crystals, thermodynamic properties based on lattice vibrations, and crystalline defects and their effect on stability relations of minerals. Includes nearly two hundred tables, three hundred figures, and an abundance of examples.


A quick look at the reference list of this textbook (initially conceived for Italian university students) is sufficient to appreciate the leading role played by North American scientists in the development of geochemistry, and it is a great honor for me to present my appraisal of this fascinating discipline to readers whose mother tongue is English.

The fascination of geochemistry rests primarily on its intermediate position between exact sciences (chemistry, physics, mathematics) and natural sciences. The molding of the quantitative approach taken in physical chemistry, thermodynamics, mathematics, and analytical chemistry to natural observation offers enormous advantages. These are counterbalanced, however, by the inevitable drawbacks that have to be faced when writing a textbook on geochemistry: 1) the need to summarize and apply, very often in a superficial and incomplete fashion, concepts that would require an entire volume if they were to be described with sufficientaccuracy and completeness; 2) the difficulty of overcoming the diffidence of nature-oriented scientists who consider the application of exact sciences to natural observations no more than models (in the worst sense of that term).

To overcome these difficulties I gradually introduce the various concepts, first presenting them in a preliminary way, and then, whenever possible, repeating them more rigorously and in greater detail.

Theorganization of this book follows the various states of aggregation of the earth's materials, in an order that reflects their relative importance in geology. Five chapters deal with the crystalline state. The first chapter is preparatory, the second and third are operative. The fourth summarizes some concepts of defect chemistry, the role of which in geochemistry is becoming more and more important as studies on kinetics and trace element applications advance. The fifth chapter is a (necessarily concise) state-of-the-art appraisal of the major silicate minerals.

Two chapters are devoted to silicate melts. One is an introduction to petrogenetic diagrams, extensively treated in petrology. Aqueous solutions are covered in a single chapter that basically deals with electrolyte solution theory and its applications, since any further subdivision seemed unnecessary. A single chapter was deemed sufficienttodescribe the up-to-date information about gases. The decision not to treat chemistry and equilibria in the earth's atmosphere was dic-

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