Cover image for Vulcan's fury : man against the volcano
Vulcan's fury : man against the volcano
Scarth, Alwyn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 299 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 26 cm
Stromboli -- Vesuvius, AD 79 -- Monte Nuovo, 1538 -- Etna, 1669 -- Öraefajökull, 1727 -- Lanzarote, 1730-1736 -- Laki, 1783 -- Cosegüina, 1835 -- Krakatau, 1883 -- Montagne Pelée, 1902 -- Parícutin, 1943 -- Mount St. Helens, 1980 -- Nevado del Ruiz, 1985 -- Lake Nyos, 1986 -- Pinatubo, 1991 -- Conclusion.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE522 .S294 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QE522 .S294 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A description of 15 volcanic eruptions through the centuries, with first-hand accounts of the different ways people reacted to them. It reconstructs the physical experience of eruptions and examines the advances in technology and volcanic surveillance in the 20th century.

Author Notes

Alwyn Scarth was Lecturer in Geography at the University of Dundee.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991, it could have annihilated the half-million people living within range of its lava and ash; instead, it killed barely a thousand, because volcanologists and local authorities knew what would happen and evacuated the area. What eruptions taught them what they knew? In a neatly interdisciplinary (if at times sensational) work, Scarth (Savage Earth) describes 15 volcanic eruptions important to earth science or to human history, from Italy's Stromboli and Vesuvius (A.D. 79) to Mount St. Helens, Pinatubo, and Nevado del Ruiz, in Colombia (1985), whose eruption melted a mountain's ice cap, creating horrific floods. Scarth weaves together geology, sociology, folklore, politics and history. Sometimes he simply traces the consequences of an eruption, describing, for example, the "sulphuric aerosol" released by Krakatau (1883), which changed the color of sunsets the world over. Sometimes Scarth's book becomes a history of disaster relief and evacuation policy. After Mount Pel‚e, in Martinique, erupted in 1902, the French colonial administration offered every displaced person 1.25 francs per day. This sum far exceeded a day's earnings for a nondisplaced Martinican laborer: the resulting social disruption led the new French governor to reduce relief for the displaced poor and increase it for the displaced rich. Scarth's readers will learn what authorities now know about how to predict and prepare for big eruptions, and the riveting accounts he provides of each calamity, eyewitness and secondhand, display the fascination that leads so many scientists to risk their lives to study volcanoes. 70 b&w, 30 color photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Scarth takes a different view of volcanoes than Haraldur Sigardsson in Melting the Earth (LJ 5/1/99). Sigardsson includes more of the legends affiliated with volcanic activity, but like Heiken Fisher in Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change (Princeton Univ., 1997), Scarth adds more of the human dimension plus an occasional touch of wry humor. As the author of the textbook Volcanoes: An Introduction, he provides the facts, but he also describes the periods leading up to and following volcanic activity and how people were affected. His chronologically arranged chapters (from Vesuvius in 79 A.D. to Pinatubo in 1991) reveal what we have and have not learned from earlier eruptions; it is certainly clear that not all volcanoes are alike. Sometimes the volcano itself is not even the chief cause of death, but Scarth reminds us that "the volcano always wins." His readable style makes this relatively accessible to an interested reader. The only drawback for U.S. readers is the use of metric measurements. For academic and larger public libraries.ÄJean E. Crampon, Science & Engineering Lib., Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgementsp. xi
1 Introductionp. 1
2 Strombolip. 13
3 Vesuvius, AD 79p. 21
4 Monte Nuovo, 1538p. 43
5 Etna, 1669p. 57
6 Oraefajokull, 1727p. 77
7 Lanzarote, 1730-1736p. 87
8 Laki, 1783p. 105
9 Coseguina, 1835p. 123
10 Krakatau, 1883p. 135
11 Montagne Pelee, 1902p. 157
12 Paricutin, 1943p. 191
13 Mount St Helens, 1980p. 211
14 Nevado del Ruiz, 1985p. 227
15 Lake Nyos, 1986p. 245
16 Pinatubo, 1991p. 255
17 Conclusionp. 275
Sources and Further Readingp. 281
Indexp. 288
Illustration Acknowledgementsp. 300