Science and Tech

History of the Volcanoes (Nahúm Méndez)

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Still resounding with the echo of the activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which captured the attention of the Spanish and other people around the world, there are many who have felt a new and genuine interest in knowing more about volcanic phenomena and their consequences.

In that sense, Nahúm Méndez’s book could not have been more timely. This well-known geologist and scientific communicator returns to bookstores with a work dedicated to glossing the history of the study and investigation of volcanoes. The author also brings us closer to many other aspects of our relationship with volcanism, and even dedicates a section to those volcanoes discovered in other parts of the solar system.

The first chapter of the book is focused on offering a brief historical note on these amazing structures, on our relationship with them, since man was aware of their activity and danger. In fact, thanks to its eruptions, which left multiple layers of ash throughout history, we have been able to record the presence of primitive humans in some parts of the world due to the traces they left on them. Such eruptions also brought destruction and fear at various times in the past, drawing the attention of explorers and early scientists.

In the second section, Méndez physically describes what a volcano is, from a geological point of view. In this chapter we will learn how they are inside and how they are produced and behave over time.

A sign of the universality of the phenomenon is found in the discovery of volcanoes on other planets, such as Mars, although extinct, on Venus, or on moons such as Io, which still shows notable activity. Space probes have allowed us to learn a lot about what a body must be like in order to experience volcanism.

Large and small, eruptions have taken on various roles throughout Earth’s history. Some have been especially prominent in historical times, and the author reviews those that still resonate in the mists of time.

When it is still debated whether the dinosaurs disappeared due to the impact of a large cosmic object or whether their extinction was also hastened by considerable volcanic activity, it is interesting to ask whether in the future human civilization could become endangered due to a or several gigantic eruptions, such as those caused by supervolcanoes. Méndez examines the question taking into account the time intervals that are calculated for this to happen.

The author does not forget to deal with related issues that highlight the importance that volcanoes have had throughout the history of mankind. Issues such as volcanoes in art (including literature) are examined in detail. Likewise, Nahúm Méndez deals with the so-called silent eruptions, those that occur frequently without us noticing. In fact, no one knows exactly how many eruptions are underway right now, since some occur under the oceans or in areas where their activity is constant but goes unnoticed.

The last chapter of the book is dedicated to answering everything related to volcanoes that has not been dealt with in the previous sections, including questions that anyone could ask about them, such as their relationship with human health, the largest known eruption, etc.

Beyond the inherent interest that they produce for us, volcanoes are for scientists a true school for geology, since they tell us a lot about the past and evolution of the Earth, its contributions to the appearance of life, and the future that lies ahead for us. wait.

In short, an (illustrated) book that will satisfy all those readers who wish to take a step forward and embrace updated knowledge about this phenomenon that continues to dazzle humanity.

Guadalmazan. 2022. Paperback, 270 pages. ISBN: 978-84-17547-68-4

You can buy this book here.

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