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Subduction Dynamics

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Subduction Dynamics
From Mantle Flow to Mega Disasters
Edited by Gabriele Morra, David A. Yuen, Scott D. King, Sang-Mook Lee, and Seth Stein
A Co-Publication Between the American Geophysical Union and John Wiley and Sons, Inc. (2016)
ISBN: 978-1-1188-8885-8

Reviewed by Harry S. Chou - February 26, 2016

Subduction Dynamics: From Mantle Flow to Mega Disasters is a relatively short book, as it only contains about 210 pages. However, in this short monograph the authors have packed in a great deal of information about the impact that the subduction slab has on earthquakes, tsunamis and other seismically related hazards. In 2012 a meeting was held on Jeju Island, in South Korea, where researchers from around the world gathered to discuss the relevance of subduction dynamics. The articles in this book constitute a sampling of the information that was discussed and compiled as a result of this meeting.

To be blunt, this is a highly technical book that is geared more toward geophysicists. As such, I have to admit that there was much in this book that I did not understand. Then again, I'm not a geophysicist. However, what I did understand was fascinating and I happen to like to stockpile information I don't yet understand in the certain hope that in the future I'll learn some interesting tidbit of information that will make everything clear. And if not, at least it is better than watching TV, but I digress...

The topics covered in this book highlight the multidisciplinary nature of subduction dynamics, and it highlights its implications in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanism, deep mantle earthquakes and the mechanisms involving mantle flow. The book also discusses the global risks associated with earthquakes and how most, if not all, earthquakes are due to the subduction of plates/slabs.

One of the most interesting chapters, and the one that I most understood is called Why We Need a New Paradigm of Earthquake Occurrence. This chapter deals with the issues of predicting earthquakes and why it is important to truly understand their causes if there is to be any hope in successfully predicting their occurrences and as an aid to minimizing the damage they cause. Throughout, you'll also find examples of how models are used to study subduction events, along with information on how subduction processes are studied and the current state of our understanding of these processes.

While not the lightest reading in the world, this book will fascinate anyone with an interest in geological processes such as volcanism, earthquakes, tsunamis, and plate tectonics. Although written for professional geologists, geophysicists, mineral physicists, and geodynamicists; advanced undergraduate and graduate students studying geology or physics will find this book of interest, as will amateur geologists who like reading 'above their pay grade'.


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