GSA book details long-contentious geomorphology question

December 03, 2012

Boulder, CO, USA - Mima mounds, prairie mounds, pimple mounds, hybrid mounds, moundfields, mud lumps, seismic sand blows, animal burrows, micro-high dunes -- what are they and what causes them? These are just a few names for tracts of bumpy land (or "activity centers") illustrated, analyzed, dissected, and discussed in this new detailed volume on geomorphology from The Geological Society of America, Mima Mounds: The Case for Polygenesis and Bioturbation.

Going all the way back to the first published description of these mounds (1804), editors Jennifer L. Horwath Burnham of Augustana College and Donald L. Johnson of the University of Illinois list a timeline of names and theorized causes. The editors and several chapter co-authors provide a complete history of the subject, with detailed appendices, color illustrations, maps, and data tables.

The reason for all this detail? Answers about the nature and cause of Mima mounds (and even that name, drawn from Mima Prairie in Washington State) are still debated. The purpose for this volume, note the editors, is "to revisit and examine ... soil mound issues and questions, especially the role of life in landscape evolution." They write that "any scientific subject or theme, like Mima mounds, with a contentious explanatory history that has covered nearly two centuries -- and considered by many to still be contentious" deserves the attention paid by this book.
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,

Mima Mounds: The Case for Polygenesis and Bioturbation
Jennifer L. Horwath Burnham and Donald L. Johnson (editors)
Geological Society of America Special Paper 490
SPE490, 206 p., $80.00; Member price $60.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-2490-4

Geological Society of America

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