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Erupt, erupted, erupting

29 Jul

This morning I dropped Fiona off at the vet’s office. She’s having a little body work done. She has 4 items removed: an epulis in her mouth, and erupted cyst, a dormant cyst and a tumor on her tail. She has other lumps, but these require the most urgent attention. They are so significant, I have named them. The epulis is called Alpha. The tumor on her tail is Omega and I call the erupted cyst Vesuvius. It erupted a few weeks ago and is still not gone dormant, as these things sometimes do, so the surgery should clean things up for her. Unfortunately, scientists can’t make active volcanoes go doorman this easily.

In her new book, Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives, Elizabeth Rusch  gives us another excellent work of non-fiction.


She begins the book describing the 1595 eruption of Nevado Del Ruiz in Colombia. And it’s eruptions in 1845, 1984 and 1985. When I lived in Medellin, Colombia in the early 90’s, this last eruption, which killed over 23,000 people (3/4 of the town of Armero) was still a topic of much discussion and national mourning.

Eruption! is part of the “Scientists in the Field” series from Houghton Mifflin and  addresses the subtitle, explaining the mission and work of a small group of scientists at the US Geological Survey’s VDAP (Volcano Disaster Assistance Program). Chapter two shows the steps the VDAP took in 1991 when the Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines became active, threatening the people in the area and Clark Air Force Base.

Rusch & photographer Tom Ullman travel with VDAP team member to  the Philippines ,where they chronicle the activities of the VDAP when  Mount Merapi became active again in 2010. Rusch shows how the VDAP scientists worked alongside Indonesian scientists, surveying the damage from a recent eruption and working to determine whether another eruption was coming.

The book moves at a quick pace and is full of action. Scientists drop from helicopters, lug heavy equipment through jungles and up volcano slopes and design and build specialized tracking equipment. Ample, detailed photographs give armchair volcanologists the sense that they r part of the team. As with all the books in this series, the book has a glossary and a  bibliography, making it an excellent reference.

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