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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trying to Understand Pele, April 4, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book. It combines science, adventure, and the personal journal of a geologist who spent 3 years working with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It includes a major eruption, measuring the ups, downs, and side slips of Kilauea Volcano's surface, and watching the movements of the surface crust on a lava lake that mimics the dance of the Earth's tectonic plates. Trying to understand how active volcanoes work has captivated nearly all the scientists who have studied them, and Duffield's book gives good insight into how and why.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Chasing Lava" a great read, December 3, 2004
This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
"Chasing Lava" is excellent. Without being textbookish, Duffield explains the basic workings of Hawaiian volcanism, enabling readers to practically teach it to friends. Above and beyond that, Duffield gives a glimpse of what it's like to be a field scientist who flat out likes his work. Oh, that we could all enjoy our career work as much as Duffield enjoys his. And don't miss the amazing snake story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Volcanoes for beginners, April 9, 2004
By 
Gene J. Parola (Honolulu, HI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
When I saw the cover of Chasing Lava, I had to pick it up.
For many of us who live on the tops of these under seas volcanoes, the thought is never far away--How did it happen and are these dormant giants going to remain dormant? After all, dormant comes from the root word meaning to sleep. Sleeping things can awaken.
Anyway, Duffield takes us by the hand and helps us to understand how they came to be. And he does so in a simple enough fashion and with enough humor and local color, to make the whole journey from the middle of the earth to its verdant surface a lark. Tke the trip. It's fascinating. By the way, Pele continues to increase the size of the
Island of Hawaii--that process which Duffield experienced 35 years ago--and she seems in no hurry to stop.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Volcanoes everywhere, November 18, 2005
This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
Wendell Duffield tells the tale of Hawaii's Volcanoes like no other. He masterfully mixes a biographical tale of moving to Hawaii and living here with his passion for studying volcanoes. The telling of both stories is infectious, you just can't put the book down. Even non-geologists will understand and appreciate how volcanoes are studies and why it's important to all of us.

If you like this book you might also read "Volcanoes of Northern Arizona" and "When Pele Stirs" also by Wendell Duffield.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming memoir, frightening facts, November 17, 2006
This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
Wendell Duffield's "Chasing Lava" is longer on charm than adventure, despite the subtitle.

You cannot work around an active volcano for three years without having a scrape or two, but don't expect "Chasing Lava" to be the vehicle for the next Bruce Willis film.

No matter. As he says, "Kilauea (which has been erupting on the Big Island of Hawaii continuously since 1983) would be fascinating even without the occasional shaking and breaking of ground and belching of molten rock."

Indeed, even if your interest in volcanoes is minimal, Duffield's memoir of moving to a quieter Hawaii in 1969 along with his wife Anne and cat Mingo has plenty to recommend it. From coping with mold -- not in those days regarded as a medical emergency -- to enjoying homemade ohelo berry wine, "Chasing Lava" will make many who yearn for the older, slower Hawaii mist up a bit.

As for adventure, you cannot get a better setup than falling into a river of molten lava, as one of Duffield's colleagues did; but Hawaiian lava is a kinder, gentler sort, and the man escaped with nothing worse than a good story.

This little memoir is published in cooperation with the Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program, and it gently imparts a good deal of factual material about volcanoes and volcanologists.

From tidbits about how difficult it is to measure the tiny movements of the pulsing mountain to a history of how people first came to understand volcanoes, "Chasing Lava" is consistently interesting.

Some of the first solid research about volcanoes was done at Kilauea, although even now, Duffield says, "More than once, Kilauea has leaked important new bits of information just when modern scientists thought they had finally pieced together the volcano's complex story."

There is an underlying tension in this gentle memoir, created by the discovery -- to which Duffield contributed some early insights -- that at long intervals Hawaiian volcanoes slide catastrophically into the ocean.

"We should never take for granted," writes Duffield, "even such relatively benign volcanoes as those in Hawaii."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and Nostalgic Read!, September 11, 2011
By 
Jeffrey Eaton (Eugene, OR United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
It was a delight to discover and read Wendell Duffield's "Chasing Lava." As the son of a geophysicist who worked at Hawaii Volcano Observatory in the late 1950's and early 1960's, this account brought back many childhood memories of our time on Kilauea. It was interesting to learn how scientific methods for studying the volcano have evolved, and how the many subsequent eruptions have transformed the landscape since our time there. This information has been most useful in helping me plan hikes and other explorations for an upcoming visit to the national park.

The author conveys the excitement of living on and studying one of the world's most active volcanoes. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story about a volcanologist's experiences on the Big Island of Hawai'i., December 5, 2012
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This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
This was where I learned that the Hawai'ian islands have no snakes, and that bringing anything alive in from elsewhere is strictly controlled. It is a fun story about how a volcanologist got real-life field experience right after completing his degree and getting married. I just wish his wife could have become a veterinarian, and not felt that the time and culture she lived in could stop her. At least she had her cat!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration, June 24, 2014
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This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
Anything by this author is worth reading if you're interested in geology. Also has written a wonderful book about volcanos in northern Arizona.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deadly book!, May 14, 2006
This review is from: Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (Paperback)
this is a great book, really well-written and engaging, and exciting insights into experience of being one of the early(ish) USGS geologists at HVO, trying out new monitoring methods, finding snakes, drinking wine..
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Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Chasing Lava: A Geologist's Adventures at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory by Wendell Duffield (Paperback - January 1, 2003)
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