Several of the greatest disasters in history were caused by volcanic eruptions, and some have influenced the course of human civilization. Inevitably, the sheer physical power of volcanic eruptions makes them of compelling interest. Apart from their immediate effects, large eruptions also have world-wide atmospheric effects, with implications for the global climate which are becoming of increasing current concern. In this book, Dr Francis gives an account - much of it from first-hand experience in many parts of the world - of the familiar violent aspects of volcanoes and the various forms that eruptions can take. He also goes beyond the spectacular visible displays to explore why volcanoes exist at all, why volcanoes occur where they do, and how examples of major historical eruptions can be interpreted in terms of physical processes. Throughout, he attempts to place volcanism on Earth and the stunning range of volcanic phenomena revealed by spacecraft exploration of the Solar System. Students of geology, geography, and the environment should find the book useful. The straightforward, approachable style means that it should also appeal to a wide range of other readers who wish to learn more about one of the most awesome of natural phenomena.
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'Oppenheimer does not shy away from difficult concepts, and as part of a more modern treatment of magma vesiculation (bubble formation) he presents a skilful precis of Yuri Siezin's catastrophe theory model, whereby a slight change in the pressure driving up a conduit can trigger an enormous change in magma ascent velocity.' Times Higher Education Supplement, April 2004.
Review from previous edition 'the work is organized around the styles of volcanism found on the earth ... the lay reader is skilfully guided around or over the technical hurdles without the storyline being lost and perseverance, when it is needed, is rewarded by many fascinating details about particular eruptions ... the thoroughness and range of the coverage in the text make this an excellent adjunct to the reading list for even a postgraduate course in volcanology ... Francis has succeeded in producing an extremely readable, entertaining, authoritative and informative work that should bring a better appreciation of modern volcanology to a wide audience.' ( L. Wilson, Nature August, 07/09/1993)
'the lay readers is skilfully guided around or over the technical hurdles without the storyline being lost; and perseverance, when it is needed, is rewarded by many fascinating details about particular eruptions ... the thoroughness and range of the coverage in the text make this an excellent adjunct to the reading list for even a postgraduate course in volcanology ... Francis has succeeded in producing an extremely readable, entertaining, authoritative and informative work that should bring a better appreciation of modern volcanology to a wide audience.' ( Lionel Wilson, University of Lancaster, Nature, Vol. 364, August 1993)
'This is simply the best book I have seen on the science that underlies modern understanding of volcanology - and on top of that it is a pleasure to read ... a coherent and lively overview of his field, from historical accounts of great eruptions to lavas on Mars and elsewhere ... it is difficult to put down, principally because of Francis's lively style ... His lucid style and individual ... voice entices committed and casual readers alike. This is the book for all those who have wondered why and how volcanoes erupt as they do, and are prepared to think a little to find out ... what makes this text so compelling is the sense of contact with research. Francis refers throughout to the scientists involved - what they saw and how they interpreted their observations.' ( Sue Bowler, New Scientist, September 1993)
'In an easy-to-read style, he has produced a scholarly work that is a suitable text both for earth and environmental science students and for those who wish to know more about this important natural process. The book is extremely well illustrated with high-quality drawings and photographs. This is a good follow-up to the author's earlier and highly successful book on the same subject.' ( Times Higher Education Supplement)
'This is above all a very readable account of one of the Earth's fundamental geological processes and as such will appeal equally to students of geology and geography, nonspecialists, and the general reader. The book is magnificently illustrated and the author writes from first hand experience of research in this field.' ( Aslib Book Guide, Vol. 59, No. 3, March 1994)
'targeted specifically to a popular audience. It went on to achieve considerable success, in part because of its accessible style, low price, and lack of competitors ... Francis has written a highly personal discourse, focusing on those volcanoes and topics that most captivate him ... it is Francis's subtle appreciation of how volcanoes work that really sets this book apart.' ( Science, Vol 263, 21 January 1994)
'Graduates would find much new material of interest and plenty of references for further study.' ( OUGS Journal 16.1, Spring Edition 1995)
'In part, reading this book is simply a pleasure, as Francis and Oppenheimer write very clear and precise, adding occasionally the odd joke...To the present writer, this book is the best work on volcanoes and volcanology...the clarity of the presentation makes this book very readable for the educated non-special...I thus conclude: simply the best!' ( Dr Ulrich Knittel, http://vulkanismus.de/reviews/volcs_eng.html)
'In my opinion Dr Oppenheimer has combined the original work with new material to produce a superb book which is a pleasure to read and at a modest price it should be on the book list of everyone interested in volcanology' ( Elizabeth Maddocks OUGS Journal 25 (2) Symposium Edition 2004.)
The late Dr. Peter Francis was a Reader in the Department of Earth Sciences at the Open University and Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii. Dr. Clive Oppenheimer is a University Lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge.
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