From Library Journal
What is a volcano? Why do some have slow-flowing lava and some explode with fire and rocks? How are volcanoes and earthquakes related? Sigurdsson (oceanography, Univ. of Rhode Island) looks at these questions and more from various points of view: prehistoric legend, religion, superstition, and science from the 17th century to date. He has done his research well. Some of the theories he relates appear foolish in hindsight, but most of them were taken quite seriously in their time. His subtitle is apt, as each chapter adds to the evolution of scientific thought in this area of geology. He shows the importance of other disciplines, including chemistry, physics, and thermodynamics, in understanding how the study of volcanoes has changed over time. He also notes how points of view shift with field research and experimentation. In the end, we are left with more questions, which is one of the excitements of science. For larger public libraries and academic collections supporting the earth sciences.AJean E. Crampon, Science & Engineering Lib., Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Dr. Harold Sigurdsson's new book Melting The Earth is a wonderful journey through time as he traces the history of man's fear and love of volcanic eruptions. I can't think of a better guide on this epic journey." --Robert D. Ballard, Ph.D., President, Institute for Exploration
"An attractive and readable account of the history of ideas about volcanoes."--Nature
"Evolving philosophical and theological debate, tempered by a growing body of scientific knowledge, flavors the beautifully written text.... The author, born and raised in volcanic Iceland and an international volcanologist, wrote this rich history of his science for deeper appreciation and perception into the role of human interaction with a mighty natural force. Historians and scientists will thoroughly enjoy this book."--Choice
"In Melting the Earth, Haraldur Sigurdsson draws on his Icelandic heritage to show how man has long been fascinated by volcanoes, particularly in parts of the world where they are a dynamic presence and potential cause of disaster. Many ancient cultures have extensive volcano myths whose origins may be even older. After the Dark Ages and with exploration of the globe and skies, a vast amount of new information became available, and efforts to explain how the world works developed at an ever-increasing pace. A major conceptual advance was considering that the earth could have a vast amount of primordial heat. The discovery of radioactivity in the current century provided an adequate heat source, and detailed geophysical observations led to plate tectonics. Sigurdsson emphasizes ideas that prevailed at each stage of history, and thus spends as much time on ideas eventually discarded as those still incorporated in the modern view." - William Green, The Leading Edge, April 2000
"Haraldur Sigurdsson is a professor in the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. As a practicing volcanologist and native of Iceland, where volcanoes are frequently active, Sigurdsson chronicles humankind's attempt to understand volcanic eruptions and provides a fascinating look at how our conception of volcanoes has changed as knowledge of the earth's internal processes has deepened over the centuries. Drawing liberally from classical sources and firsthand accounts, this chronicle is not only a colorful history of volcanology, but also an engrossing chapter in the development of scientific thought." - California Geology , May 2000