At once terrifyingly destructive and awe-inspiringly beautiful, volcanoes have long fascinated humankind. From Vesuvius and Etna to Krakatau and Mount Saint Helen’s, these molten rock- and ash-spewing geysers have destroyed whole cities and countless lives, and altered the course of history. Yet our understanding of volcanoes on Earth—and throughout the celestial world—remains maddeningly incomplete. With Alien Volcanoes, Rosaly M. C. Lopes and Michael W. Carroll offer a dynamic tour of volcanic activity across the solar system. Through eight gracefully written chapters laced with gripping photographs and stunning artwork, Lopes and Carroll survey the complete spectrum of volcanism in time and location, from the solar system’s origin to the modern era and from the familiar shield volcanoes of the terrestrial worlds to the bizarre superchilled geysers on distant ice moons. In the process, they entertain the possibility of hidden lakes on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, discuss the potential effects of greenhouse gases on Neptune’s moon Triton, reconstruct the last moments of life for Pompeiians in the face of an erupting Mount Vesuvius, and explain how a 4,000-mile-long river of lava could have once flowed freely across the plains of Venus.
Richly illustrated with original paintings supplemented by NASA and European Space Agency photographs, Alien Volcanoes advances our knowledge of volcanoes on other heavenly bodies, enhances our ability to comprehend how they came into being on Earth, and describes how we might better predict the impact of future eruptions.
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A guide to solar system wonders, October 30, 2008
Rosaly M. C. Lopes and Michael W. Carroll lead the reader on a wonderful tour of volcanic activity in the solar system. They start the journey on Earth where they focus on heat generated by radioactivity or tidal forces seeking to escape into the coldness of space. Sometimes the heat escapes slowly with lava seeps or smoky looking steam. In other cases, the heat escapes in gigantic bursts of lava, steam, ash and smoke. The authors focus in part on the effects of volcanoes on people. The sections on the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius and their effects on Pompeii and Herculaneum are particularly compelling.
Although there is no apparent effect on people from non-terrestrial volcanoes (other than inspiring scientific and intellectual curiosity), the authors argue similar forces create volcanoes elsewhere in the solar system. They use terrestrial evidence to describe and analyze volcanic activity far from Earth.
For example, Olympus Mons is a shield volcano on Mars, 2.6 times larger than Manua Loa, the largest volcano on earth, and three times higher than Mount Everest. Mars does not have tectonic plates so the Martian crust remained fixed over a hot spot, and Olympus Mons apparently grew to its immense size over 115 million years. (Hawaiian volcanoes were formed as the Pacific plate moved over a hot spot.) But, the authors ask, are Martian caves lava tubes or created by some other mechanism?
The authors have woven together a wonderful collection of drawings by Carroll and photos from NASA and ESA together with well written text. The describe common features of volcanoes throughout the solar system: plumes, shields, domes, and flows.
Lopes has contributed three other books on volcanoes:Volcanic Worlds: Exploring The Solar System's Volcanoes, The Volcano Adventure Guide, and Io After Galileo: A New View of Jupiter's Volcanic Moon.
Michael W. Carroll has created a number of space drawings for NASA and illustrated a number of books including Volcanoes and Earthquakes.
Together, they have created a wonderful introduction to one of the great natural wonders of the Earth and the rest of the solar system.
Robert C. Ross 2008
Lopes is an inspirational scientist, with great accomplishments outside science; this extract from Wikipedia describes them:
Lopes is a strong supporter of education, diversity, and outreach both nationally and internationally. She has given many public lectures in several countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas and was the co-organizer of the United Nations/ European Space Agency/The Planetary Society workshops in 1992 and 1993. In 2005, she was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, in recognition of her significant efforts over the past 20 years in public outreach and education, particularly among Hispanic groups and young women. This work includes innumerable public talks, media interviews, articles in magazines and newspapers, a book on planetary volcanism, and major efforts to nurture and mentor young scientists. Her hobbies include scuba diving, hiking, traveling to volcanoes all over the world, and collecting volcano art.
Selected documentaries and TV shows: History Channel's "Prehistoric Megastorms" (2008); "Heads Up" Science Series, Knowledge TV, Canada, episode on New Horizons (January 2008); History Channels' "Search for E.T.", in "The Universe" series (August 2007); PBS "Wired Science" interview on volcanoes (October 2007); Discovery Channel's "Titan: Rendezvous with Saturn's Moon" (updated version, May 2007); National Geographic Television's "Naked Science: Deadliest Planets" (December 2006); History Channel's "Ask Mr. Know-It-All", pilot episode (as expert on volcanic dust), 2006; History Channel's "Inside the Volcano" (December 2006); Discovery Channel's "Rewind 2006" (science stories of 2006, December