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Crucibles of Change
Richard V. Fisher, Grant Heiken, & Jeffrey B. Hulen

Paperback | 1998 | $38.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691002491
336 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 85 halftones 46 line illus. 13 tables
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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.


"A vivid, insightful, heavily illustrated book. . . . Most important, Volcanoes is fun. The authors take us on a roller-coaster ride through centuries of volcanic thrills, keeping our attention riveted on the deadly fireworks, while giving us just enough science to deepen our awe."--William J. Broad, The New York Times Book Review

"A short course in volcanology offered by a team of scientists who bring both scholarship and something like glee to their work. . . . Abundantly illustrated, always accessible and sometimes downright chatty, Volcanoes is a work of science that has not lost its sense of wonder."--Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

"Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change is written by three respected vulcanologists who, having witnessed several volcanic tragedies, hope to inform and educate people about the wonders, the thrills, and the dangers of volcanoes. . . .[It is an] informative and entertaining book."--Hazel Rymer, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"[An] entertaining and informative book that puts volcanoes firmly in their social and cultural place, as well as summarizing the scientific advances that have helped us to understand why and when they erupt. . . . It's a good read, too, written with enthusiasm and expert knowledge, as well as deadpan humour."--Sue Bowler, New Scientist

"Volcanoes is a compendium of facts and observations, compellingly and concisely explained."--Richard Fortey, London Review of Books


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This book has been translated into:

  • Chinese (Complex)

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Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Grant Heiken:

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