The case history approach has an impressive record of success in a variety of disciplines. Collections of case histories, casebooks, are now widely used in all sorts of specialties other than in their familiar appli cation to law and medicine. The case method had its formal beginning at Harvard in 1871 when Christopher Lagdell developed it as a means of teaching. It was so successful in teaching law that it was soon adopted in medical education, and the collection of cases provided the raw material for research on various diseases. Subsequently, the case history approach spread to such varied fields as business, psychology, management, and economics, and there are over 100 books in print that use this approach. The idea for a series of Casehooks in Earth Science grew from my experience in organizing and editing a collection of examples of one variety of sedimentary deposits. The prqject began as an effort to bring some order to a large number of descriptions of these deposits that were so varied in presentation and terminology that even specialists found them difficult to compare and analyze. Thus, from the beginning, it was evident that something more than a simple collection of papers was needed. Accordingly, the nearly fifty contributors worked together with George de Vries Klein and me to establish a standard format for presenting the case histories.
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