For centuries, volcanic eruptions have captured our imaginations. Whether as signposts to an underworld, beacons to ancient mariners, or as an extraordinary manifestation of the natural world, volcanoes have intrigued many people, who have left records of their encounters in letters, reports and diaries and through sketches and illustrations. Volcanoes: Encounters Through the Ages tells the stories of volcanic eruptions around the world, using original illustrations and first-hand accounts to explore how our understanding of volcanoes has evolved through time.
Written accounts include Pliny's description of the 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius, stories recounted by seventeenth-century sea-farers, and reports of expeditions made by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century natural historians, including Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin. Illustrations range from fragments of scrolls, buried in the great eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, to Athanasius Kircher's extraordinarily detailed sketches, made in the seventeenth century, to the spectacular London sunsets caused by Krakatoa's eruption in 1883. They also include the first photograph of a volcanic eruption and twenty-first-century imaging of Santorini.
These varied and compelling accounts enrich our perspective on current studies of volcanoes and challenge us to think about how we might use our contemporary understanding of volcanology to prepare for the next big eruption.
- Volcanoes and the heat of the Earth
- Plate tectonics
- Oceanic Ridges and Continental Rifts
- A Volcanic Arc: Chile Measuring Volcanoes
Chapter 1 - Volcanoes in Early Manuscripts
- Volcanoes of the Atlantic Ocean
- The Mediterranean
- The Sixteenth Century
- Athanasius Kircher
Chapter 2 - Vesuvius awakes
- December 1631 Etna
- 1669 William Hamilton
- 1817 eruption
- 1834 eruption
- 1906 eruption
- Vesuvius and Popular Culture
- The first volcanic photograph
Chapter 3 - The origins of lava
- Polygonal rocks
- Melting Rocks
- Field Examples
Chapter 4 - Europeans explore the world's volcanoes
- Pirates and Burning Islands
- Eighteenth-century Explorers
- Nineteenth-century Natural Historians
Chapter 5 - World-changing eruptions
- Appearing and Disappearing Islands
- Jorullo and Paricutin
- Laki, 1783
- Tambora, 1815
- Krakatoa, 1883
Chapter 6 - Living with Volcanoes
- Montserrat St Vincent May 1902
- The destruction of St Pierre, Martinique
Chapter 7 - Detecting the next volcanic eruption
- Santorini, Greece
- Why can't we predict volcanic eruptions?
- What if there was a supervolcanic eruption?
- Gazetteer of eruptions
David M. Pyle is a volcanologist and Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford.