Public Release: 

With rocks, it's all about provenance

New special paper from the Geological Society of America

Geological Society of America


IMAGE: This is the cover of the new Special Paper, "Mineralogical and Geochemical Approaches to Provenance. " view more

Credit: Cover design by Eric Christensen, GSA.

Boulder, CO, USA - Major technical advances in the analysis of individual minerals and whole rocks allow greater insight into the source of sediments and sedimentary rocks, thus unroofing the histories of the landscapes from which they came. This new book from The Geological Society of America combines work in North America, Southeast Asia, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, the western Alps, Chile, and the North Sea into a comprehensive volume covering the latest techniques for determining sedimentary provenance.

Editors E. Troy Rasbury of Stony Brook University, Sidney R. Hemming of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Nancy R. Riggs of Northern Arizona University have organized the book's eleven chapters into three general categories, while noting that many of the chapters combine these approaches to address provenance questions: (1) isotope and fission-track dating of minerals, and additional insights from geochemistry and radiogenic isotopes; (2) uses of heavy minerals, relative abundance, isotope fingerprinting, and compositions of the minerals; and (3) automated point counting.

One study focuses on Byrd Glacier, which has a drainage basin that covers more than a million square kilometers of East Antarctica, transporting ice and debris to the Ross Sea. This chapter studies till samples collected adjacent to the Lonewolf Nunataks there in order to determine what lies beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Another chapter examines the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, West Java, and western Borneo. The authors note that while only two percent of all global land area is located in Southeast Asia, the area is estimated to yield 20 to 25 percent of the sediment supplied to the world's oceans. They find that this tropical, tectonically active region, with its deep basins (up to 15 km deep in the Malay Basin) and high sediment yield, is an ideal natural laboratory for interpreting detrital sedimentary processes and provenance.


Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through The Geological Society of America online bookstore,, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting April Leo,

Mineralogical and Geochemical Approaches to Provenance
E. Troy Rasbury, Sidney R. Hemming, and Nancy R. Riggs (editors)
Geological Society of America Special Paper 487
SPE487, 194 p., $75.00; Member price $55.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-2487-4

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