PD Dr. Ulrich Knittel:
von W.M. Sutherland, J.M. Sutherland:
Spur Ridge Enterprises
Das Buch bestellen!
-> Deutsche Rezension
After learning from the movie 'Supervolcano' that Yellowstone Park is actually a gigantic volcano, we can here read about a quite different scenario for an eruption of this volcano. While the movie told the story from the perspective of the park geologists and FEMA, in the present story the official agency do not play a leasing role, in part due to incompetence, in part due to lack of funding and hence, lack of manpower.
The story starts with an eruption of lamproites in the south of Wyoming. The choice of such an exotic eruption product, which in cases may even contain diamonds (!), already shows that the author is very familiar with his subject. But only the story's hero, Sam Westone, and later also an old prospector and some geophysicists, have some clues as to the significance oif the event.
And so the story unfolds. There are more ominous signs of coming geological activity, but unrest at supervolcanoes is a common feature that usually passes without an eruption. However Westone and a few colleagues are worried. And so the story evolves into a race between geological forces and the Westone to alarm the public.
The detailed presentation of the problems related to the question, when to pronounce a public warning, in particular, if that has enormous economic consequences and the questions related to the possibilities and responsibilities of a single person when public agencies do not react, give the book a dimension beyond pure entertainment. The tragedy of Nevado del Ruiz in Columbia come to mind, where foreign experts clearly warned of an impending disaster, while the disaster agencies do not react (see for example: 'No apparent danger' by Victoria Bruce).
The book contains a lot of geological jargon, but this makes it rather authentic. The authors have chosen that the hero, Sam Westone, involves his students in his research and besides that, he also has to educate the TV reporter Liddy about geology, hence the reader obtains enough background information. If this is not enough, there is even a glossary.
The writer of this review has to admit that he thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. There are virtually no factual errors* (little wonder, one of the authors is an experienced geologist) and the hero, Sam Westone, is almost too good to be true, but the happenings are presented in a lively and authentic way. If you like science 'thrillers', this book is a must!
Addendum. The authors have created an interesting web-site for the book.
Dr. Ulrich Knittel
* There are two errors on p. 97: First- In mantle plumes usually the mantle melts (due to decompression) and not the crust. Second- Rhyolite is melted crust and not a mixture of basalt and crustal melts; such mixtures usually have andesitic compositions as we know well from studies of Mt. Pinatubo.