W.L. Pohl:
Economic Geology, Principles and Practice: Metals, Minerals, Coal and Hydrocarbons
— an Introduction to Formation and Sustainable Exploitation of Mineral Deposits

(published April 2011)


Wisely used, mineral resources create wealth, employment, a vital social and natural environment, and peace. If the reverse of these conditions occurs only too often, illustrating the so-called “resource curse”, this should be attributed to the true perpetrators, namely irresponsible, weak or selfish leaders. This book, however, does not intend to provide rules for good governance. I wrote it as a broad overview on geoscientific aspects of mineral deposits, including their origin, geological characteristics, the principles of the search for ores and minerals, and the investigation of newly found deposits. In addition, practical and environmental aspects are adressed that arise during the life cycle of a mine and after its closure. I am convinced that in our time, economic geology cannot be tought, studied, or practiced without an understanding of environmental issues. The scientific core of the book is the attempt to present the extraordinary genetic variability of mineral deposits in the frame of fundamental geological process systems. The comprehensive approach of this book – covering materials from metal ores to minerals and hydrocarbons – is both an advantage and a loss. The second concerns the sacrifice of much detail, but I promote the first for its benefit of a panoramic view over the whole field of economic geology. Being aware that the specialist level of subjects presented in this book fills whole libraries, I do hope that even experienced practitioners, academic teachers and advanced students of particular subjects will find the synopsis useful.

Over more than 50 years, several editions of this book were published in German language. Since the first edition (Wilhelm & Walther E. Petrascheck 1950), the book was intended to provide a concise introduction to the geological setting of mineral deposits, including its application to exploration and mining. The target audience has changed, however. Originally, it was written for students of mining engineering. Today, it is mainly directed to aspiring and practicing geologists. Each of the seven chapters of the book was developed with my own students as a university course, and should be useful to fellow academic teachers. After initially working in industry I never lost contact with the applications of economic geology which is my motive for the constant interweaving of practical aspects in the text and for dedicating one of the chapters to the practice of economic geology. For professional reference purposes, practitioners in geology and mining should appreciate this melange of science and application. Frequent explanations and references to environmental and health aspects of extraction and processing of ores and minerals should assist users involved in environmental work. To those with no background in geology, I recommend they acquire an introductory geoscience text for looking up terms that are employed but not explained in the book.

Compared with the last German-language edition (Pohl 2005), this book has been rewritten for an international public. Although it retains a moderate European penchant by referring to examples from this region, important deposits worldwide are preferentially used to explain genetic types and practical aspects. I trust that this will be useful to both scholars and practitioners, wherever they work. Generally, it was my ambition to represent the state of the art in economic geology, by referring to and citing recent publications as well as earlier fundamental concepts. This should assist and motivate students to pursue topics to greater depth.

Many people have supported me in my life-long pursuit of theory and practice of economic geology, and helped with this book, especially by donating photographs. I cannot name them all but in captions, donors are acknowledged. Here, just let me say thank you.

back to top