Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change

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Princeton University Press, Sep 14, 1998 - Nature - 317 pages
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Whenever a volcano threatens to erupt, scientists and adventurers from around the world flock to the site in response to the irresistible allure of one of nature's most dangerous and unpredictable phenomena. In a unique book probing the science and mystery of these fiery features, the authors chronicle not only their geologic behavior but also their profound effect on human life. From Mount Vesuvius to Mount St. Helens, the book covers the surprisingly large variety of volcanoes, the subtle to conspicuous signs preceding their eruptions, and their far-reaching atmospheric consequences. Here scientific facts take on a very human dimension, as the authors draw upon actual encounters with volcanoes, often through firsthand accounts of those who have witnessed eruptions and miraculously survived the aftermath.

The book begins with a description of the lethal May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens--complete with an explanation of how safety officials and scientists tried to predict events, and how unsuspecting campers and loggers miles away struggled against terrifying blasts of ash, stone, and heat. The story moves quickly to the ways volcanoes have enhanced our lives, creating mineral-rich land, clean thermal energy, and haunting landscapes that in turn benefit agriculture, recreation, mining, and commerce. Religion and psychology embroider the account, as the authors explore the impact of volcanoes on the human psyche through tales of the capricious volcano gods and attempts to appease them, ranging from simple homage to horrific ritual sacrifice.

Volcanoes concludes by assisting readers in experiencing these geological phenomena for themselves. An unprecedented "tourist guide to volcanoes" outlines over forty sites throughout the world. Not only will travelers find information on where to go and how to get there, they will also learn what precautions to take at each volcano. Tourists, amateur naturalists, and armchair travelers alike will find their scientific curiosity whetted by this informative and entertaining book.

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Review: Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change

User Review  - Robert - Goodreads

I read this book about 10 years ago. It taught me everything I wanted to know about Volcanoes. Read full review

About the author (1998)

Fisher is Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences at the University of California.

Grant Heiken worked for NASA during the Apollo and Skylab Programs, in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, as a geology instructor in the astronaut training program, and conducting independent research on lunar surface processes, including volcanism. He is a co-editor of "Lunar Sourcebooka "A Usera (TM)s Guide to the Moon" (Cambridge University Press). In 1975 he moved to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (now the Los Alamos National Laboratory) in New Mexico, where he worked in geothermal exploration and development, volcanic hazard analysis, the uses of volcanic rocks, basic research in explosive volcanism, and integrated urban science.

Eric Jones has a lifetime background in space exploration-related science. He visited NASA Johnson in 1988 to examine transcripts of the Apollo missions in an effort to understand what is involved in getting work done on the Moon. Subsequent discussions with Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt led to the idea of creating the "Apollo Lunar Surface Journal" to document the activities of the Apollo lunar surface crews in a manner analogous to the exploration journals of Captain James Cook and others. During 1989-92, he conducted minute-by-minute mission reviews with nine of the twelve moonwalking astronauts so that readers of the could understand, in detail, what was done, how it was done, and how the crews trained before hand. Portions of the Journal first appeared on the World Wide Web in 1995 and, although all of the transcripts and astronaut comments had been added by 1998, photographs, background documents, and additional commentary are still being added in mid-2006. The Journal is hosted by NASA at http: //www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj and isgenerally considered to be the authoritative source for information about the activities of the lunar surface crews. In Heiken and Jones we have the ideal authors for this project.

Hulen is a research geologist at the Energy and Geoscience Institute of the University of Utah.

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