June 2017

Book Review – Monograph 31 Mineral Deposits of New Zealand: Exploration and Research

  • By Reviewed by Dr Tony Webster FAusIMM(CP)

Edited by Anthony B Christie

New Zealand is the most geologically dynamic and active of continental ‘fragments’, being slowly ground apart along the margin of the Australian and Pacific Plates. Powerful braided rivers race straight across giant alluvial plains to the sea. Active, and recently active volcanoes of immense proportions loom on the horizon of any road trip. And the slope instabilities faced when building cities and infrastructure on unstable landscapes are evident on most hillsides. NZ is geologically dynamic, and energetic geological processes just seem to happen all around. The dynamic nature of NZ geology is very evident in this monograph. It is filled with new information, new discoveries, new understanding and a considerable amount of genuine excitement about the remarkable geological processes that have formed (and are still forming) NZ mineral deposits.

For any technical monograph review, it is always useful to start with a first impression. On opening, the first impressions were:

  • Great photo and cover design.
  • Clear contents page and logical volume structure.
  • It is beautifully presented, clear and easy to read, and the figures are exceptional in every paper.
  • It has a comprehensive author index.
  • Thank goodness it is a hardback! Paperbacks of this size never last. These monographs are meant to be read – grabbed quickly from a shelf and referred to – when wanting fast information about a particular deposit. And this is a book that will be referred to often.

There is only one little niggle about the structure of Monograph 31 – it does not contain a keyword/locality/deposit index.

Monograph 31 is almost twice as thick as its predecessor (Monograph 25), despite having almost the same format. This demonstrates the amount of work that has taken place in NZ in the last ten years, and also the ability of the editor to solicit and include papers from all across the country. The concept of the monograph is that is presents the most significant work undertaken since that last version, rather than just presenting a revised edition. This philosophy is very successful, particularly if the reader has access to the previous monographs. Monographs 25 and 31 look like a single companion set, which is presumably what the editor intended.

The coverage of NZ mining and exploration is impressive and detailed, and the editor even provides a summary of the projects for which contributions were not obtained. The monograph is divided into ten main sections, categorised by deposit type. Examples include ‘Epithermal Gold-Silver Deposits’, and ‘Ironsand Deposits’. Each section is preceded by a very useful overview paper that sets the scene for the more deposit-specific descriptions that follow. The sections on ‘Placer Gold’ and ‘Research Related to Submarine and Sublacustrine Hydrothermal Systems’ were particular standouts because they represent the
first comprehensive reviews of these deposit styles.

While this reviewer is familiar with many general aspects of the geology of NZ, this monograph provided the detailed and up-to-date information needed to understand the local and regional picture and put earlier knowledge into a larger geological and historical context. One of the many strengths of the volume is that it serves as a comprehensive introduction to all of the major mining regions of NZ. This means that it works well as an introductory text, as well as a detailed description of all of the key mineral deposits.

It is impossible to review this volume without noting the contribution of A B (Tony) Christie, who is not only the volume editor, but also a contributing author (often first or second) to 30 of the papers it contains. While it is not specifically stated in the monograph, it is hard not to gain the impression that Tony was a driving force in guiding this publication through to completion. The quality of the work speaks for itself.

Monograph 31 presents a review of the remarkable amount of exploration and development work that has taken place in NZ in the last ten years and provides a greatly increased understanding of the geology of these dynamic islands. It also reflects the vitality and dynamism of the NZ exploration and mining industry.

The monograph is also a credit to the AusIMM services team led by Kristy Burt, who formatted the volume.

It is a must have for every geoscientist.

Monograph 31 Mineral Deposits of New Zealand: Exploration and Research is available now from the AusIMM Shop

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