cover image Ocean Worlds: The Story of Seas on Earth and Other Planets

Ocean Worlds: The Story of Seas on Earth and Other Planets

Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams. Oxford Univ, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-19-967288-2

Geologists Zalasiewicz and Williams traverse time and space to present a comprehensive look at the origins and importance of oceans. Not surprisingly, they spend most of their time discussing those with which we are most familiar, the oceans of Earth, but they go well beyond those and share data suggesting that there are others in the universe. In thoroughly enjoyable and accessible prose, the authors explore the genesis of Earth’s oceans, their importance in controlling climate, and their central role in nutrient cycling. They also describe the dramatic changes in our oceans across millennia and the human-induced problems they currently face (warming, acidification, pollution, and declining oxygen levels, among others), which are likely to alter virtually every important aspect of their existence. Looking beyond Earth the authors share data indicating that oceans have been present on both Venus and Mars and are probably extant on some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. They conclude by examining the data on planets beyond our solar system and assert that “we are getting ever closer to discovering a multiplicity of far-distant ocean worlds, some perhaps life-bearing.” Zalasiewicz and Williams have produced a book that is as informative as it is absorbing. [em](Jan.) [/em]