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Dana Hunter
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15,613 followers
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There aren't many times when you can be in medias res and at the beginning simultaneously, but this is one. It's the middle of the Quartzville field trip; it's where the story of Quartzville's modest mineral wealth begins. A place like this should have a name of suitable grandeur. Visually, it's rather stunning.

So why the tarnation did people name it Yellowbottom?

The River Falls Over a Hydrothermal Heart
The River Falls Over a Hydrothermal Heart
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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There are a few non-fiction books that can transport you through time and space, science and culture, and constantly delight you with unexpected cameos. Gillian Darley's Vesuvius is one.

For as famous as Vesuvius is, there aren't actually that many books about it. Plenty of books like to talk extensively about Pompeii, with only a few bare facts about the volcano that simultaneously destroyed and preserved it. Plenty of books about volcanology dedicate a chapter to it. But as far as books just about the volcano, there's just a few, and one of those is written by my least favorite volcano writer. So I was quite excited to find Gillian's book, and more excited still to discover that she's a skilled wordsmith.

She starts off with the intriguing experience of a fake Vesuvius, built by a German prince. And from the beginning we're immersed in the narrative, fighting a raging storm in a small boat, and from there, introduced to a volcano that has enthralled countless scientists and laypeople since Pliny the Elder and Younger. It may seem bizarre to begin a book about the real volcano by introducing us to an artificial one, but there's good purpose to this. Prince Franz is the first of many people we'll meet who found themselves captivated to obsession by Vesuvius.

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A caldera eruption is a massively violent thing. We’re not talking the quiet calderas in shield volcanoes like Mauna Loa and Kilauea, which love erupting and frequently pour burning hot stuff all over the landscape, but generally stick to easygoing lava flows that allow people to get out of the way. We’re not even talking about Fernandina Island, which had a caldera collapse in 1968 and is too dangerous for Galapagos-goers to visit. No, we’re talking about the kinds of eruptions that happen fast, big and explosively.

We’re talking about the kinds of eruptions that hurl ash and pumice so high and so far that the landscape for hundreds or thousands of miles around is blanketed in thick, choking ash. We’re talking about eruptions that bury landscapes for hundreds of square miles in pumice fields tens of feet thick.

We’re talking about the kind of eruption whose traces are still fresh and clear more than seven thousand years later.

The Long Reach of Mount Mazama
The Long Reach of Mount Mazama
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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Dr. Janet Vida Watson's geology career is a love story.

She loved her rocks immensely. To her, they weren't inert, cold stone. They had character. They had emotions. She loved her "happy rocks," and trusted them more than she trusted the isotopes labs wrested from them (though she never shied away from new technology: on the contrary, she eagerly embraced it). She turned to them throughout her career, and they imparted their life stories to her, sometimes revolutionizing an aspect of earth science in the process.

She loved geology so much she did it on her honeymoon, with her groom, John Sutton. She adored field work, and teaching students to do this good science of rock-breaking. She loved it to the end of her life.

And she loved her husband John, whom she'd met while pursuing field research as a graduate student. From those very first days together biking the Scottish Highlands to the end of her life, they never stopped working together. On the day before she died, John stood up at a Discussion Meeting of the Royal Society of London, and read their last joint paper, "Lineaments of the Continental Lithosphere."

Can you believe we'd almost lost her to biology?

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It's International Women's Day. While we're appreciating living women worldwide, let's celebrate some of the pioneering women who made the current state of earth science knowledge possible.

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Turns out you can talk a lot of geology in five minutes! Thrills! Glacial chills! Watery volcanoes!

5-Minute Geology: Fire 'n' Ice Edition
5-Minute Geology: Fire 'n' Ice Edition
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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Think you know New Orleans? What about the geomorphological story? The human changes we have wrought upon a precarious environment are incredible.

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With help from my awesome Facebook friends, I have a list! Probably the first of several, knowing me. If you know of any great geology pages to follow on Facebook not mentioned here, let me know what they are!

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It's winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and you may be getting a bit housebound by now. You've watched all the fiction shows you can stomach, and you're in the mood for mayhem, yeah? Well, that's good, because while my housemate B convalesces, we've been watching documentaries on Netflix. So I've got a few recommendations for ye!

Geologic Mayhem on Netflix
Geologic Mayhem on Netflix
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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We can cover a lot of geology in five minutes! You give me a prompt: I talk geology. Come see our first episode now!

Feel free to add your own prompts here in comments. Your topic may just be the next prompt I pick!

5-Minute Geology
5-Minute Geology
blogs.scientificamerican.com
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