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The Mediterranean was a Desert: A Voyage of the Glomar "Challenger" Paperback – November 21, 1987

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 21, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691024065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691024066
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,872,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By on November 6, 1997
Format: Paperback
For those interested in science, earth sciences or plate tectonics, "The Mediterranean Was a Desert" delivers. The book gives an objective account of one of the most important Glomar Challenger voyages. It gives a nice build-up to the discovery, made over the course of that summer voyage, that the Mediterranean had once virtually dried up. The author is a scientist and focuses on aspects of the science and underplays human relationships although some conflicts and human interactions are mentioned. I most enjoyed the descriptions of the way the Mediterranean Sea had been some 4 or 5 million years earlier, the progression of changes, and the evidence which brought him to this viewpoint and why. I least enjoyed the book's style which sounded a bit too much like it had been written by an average scientist rather than a Carl Sagan scientist. Still, it is a worthy read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bonam Pak on March 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read the 1987 reprint of the 1983 published, 1982 written book about the science cruise of the Glomar Challenger in the Mediterranean in 1970. Described is the scientists' step by step realization that this sea fell victim to dessication some 5.3 million years ago - and will so once more in some 2 - 3 million years, when the Strait of Gibraltar will get naturally plugged again. Not to speak of Africa colliding further with Europe, completely causing the Mediterranean to vanish a further long time after that. Both of which are probably the reasons why that scientific knowledge from some two generations ago isn't eagerly taught today: Both implies further that there isn't really a continental separation. Europe and Africa (and actually Asia) being one continent isn't really politically profitable for the West for the time being. Even though there remains no doubt about this long and officially established fact, people seeing me reading this book expected it to be something "esoteric" or a science fiction novel. This book is probably dated, yet to me and most people, many of whom weren't even born yet at the time of the ship's voyage, it's still fresh news, so I will not subtract a star for potentially accumulated dust, this would be my guessing only anyway.

Half a star I do subtract after all. With 188 regular text pages (including pictures) this is a rather thin book. Yet it could be much thinner indeed, if it wouldn't have been written in a travelogue style. In principle, I do not mind not just reading about the unadorned scientific results, but also about the way, the scientists found out about them, if it is written suspensefully. It is - but very, very detailed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
This little book leaves a reader with a lot to think about.

For one thing, geologist Kenneth Hsu never mentions where the Glomar Challenger came from - it was one of the devil's offspring of the Cold War, one of only a very few CIA harumscarum projects to provide any actual benefits to the citizenry, although only after the CIA had given up the ship.

I doubt today any scientific author would fail to mention the origins of the ship, but Hsu wrote in 1983, and attitudes have loosened up since then.

The voyage took place back in 1970, and now I suppose everyone with even a passing interest in geology thinks of a dried up Mediterranean Sea as "something we have always known about," the way we have "always known" that continents drifted.

But the discovery that the Mediterranean had dried out - the proof lies in certain types of evaporite rocks that can only form in the dry - came not so long after the clinching evidence for plate tectonics was published. Both findings were met with skepticism, even incredulity at first, but while some theories are hard to swallow, the evidence for a dried out Mediterranean was straightforward enough, once it was obtained.

The drama of "The Mediterranean Was a Desert" comes from how difficult it was to get those drill cores.

Deepwater drilling, too, has come a long way since 1970.

Last, the interest of this particular discovery applies to concerns about climate. It takes a long time to dry out a sea over a mile deep using nothing but sun and wind.

But it is now known that it happened over and over again, and within a comparatively short time, just a few million years.
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