Popular Geology Books

30+ [Hand Picked] Popular Books On Geology

Discover the list of some best books written on Geology by popular award winning authors. These book on topic Geology highly popular among the readers worldwide.

3.6/5

The Ends of the World: Supervolcanoes, Lethal Oceans, and the Search for Past Apocalypses by Peter Brannen

As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future Our world has ended five times: it has been br As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future Our world has ended five times: it has been broiled, frozen, poison-gassed, smothered, and pelted by asteroids. In The Ends of the World, Peter Brannen dives into deep time, exploring Earth’s past dead ends, and in the process, offers us a glimpse of our possible future. Many scientists now believe that the climate shifts of the twenty-first century have analogs in these five extinctions. Using the visible clues these devastations have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside “scenes of the crime,” from South Africa to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction. Brannen examines the fossil record—which is rife with creatures like dragonflies the size of sea gulls and guillotine-mouthed fish—and introduces us to the researchers on the front lines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the crime scenes of the Earth’s biggest whodunits. Part road trip, part history, and part cautionary tale, The Ends of the World takes us on a tour of the ways that our planet has clawed itself back from the grave, and casts our future in a completely new light.

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4.6/5

The Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 by Lauren Tarshis

No one in the bustling city of Pompeii worries when the ground trembles beneath their feet. The beast under the mountain Vesuvius, high above the city, wakes up angry sometimes -- and always goes back to sleep. But Marcus is afraid. He knows something is terribly wrong -- and his father, who trusts science more than mythical beasts, agrees. When Vesuvius explodes into a clo No one in the bustling city of Pompeii worries when the ground trembles beneath their feet. The beast under the mountain Vesuvius, high above the city, wakes up angry sometimes -- and always goes back to sleep. But Marcus is afraid. He knows something is terribly wrong -- and his father, who trusts science more than mythical beasts, agrees. When Vesuvius explodes into a cloud of fiery ash and rocks fall from the sky like rain, will they have time to escape -- and survive the epic destruction of Pompeii?

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4.8/5

The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do about Them) by Lucy Jones

By a veteran seismologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, a lively and revealing history of the world's most disruptive natural disasters, their impact on our culture, and new ways of thinking about the ones to come Natural disasters emerge from the same forces that give our planet life. Earthquakes have provided us with natural springs. Volcanoes have given us fertile soil. By a veteran seismologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, a lively and revealing history of the world's most disruptive natural disasters, their impact on our culture, and new ways of thinking about the ones to come Natural disasters emerge from the same forces that give our planet life. Earthquakes have provided us with natural springs. Volcanoes have given us fertile soil. A world without floods would be a world without rain. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Together, these colossal events have shaped our cities and their architecture; elevated leaders and toppled governments; influenced the way we reason, feel, fight, unite, and pray. The history of natural disasters is a history of ourselves. The Big Ones is a look at some of the most devastating disasters in human history, whose reverberations we continue to feel today. It considers Pompeii, and how a volcanic eruption in the first century AD challenged and reinforced prevailing views of religion for centuries to come. It explores the California floods of 1862, examining the failures of our collective memory. And it transports us to today, showing what Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami can tell us about governance and globalization. With global temperatures rising, natural disasters are striking with greater frequency. More than just history, The Big Ones is a call to action. Natural disasters are inevitable; human catastrophes are not. With this energizing and richly researched book, Jones offers a look at our past, readying us to face down the Big Ones in our future.

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3.8/5

Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization by Roy Scranton

"Roy Scranton lucidly articulates the depth of the climate crisis with an honesty that is all too rare, then calls for a reimagined humanism that will help us meet our stormy future with as much decency as we can muster. While I don't share his conclusions about the potential for social movements to drive ambitious mitigation, this is a wise and important challenge from an "Roy Scranton lucidly articulates the depth of the climate crisis with an honesty that is all too rare, then calls for a reimagined humanism that will help us meet our stormy future with as much decency as we can muster. While I don't share his conclusions about the potential for social movements to drive ambitious mitigation, this is a wise and important challenge from an elegant writer and original thinker. A critical intervention."--Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate Coming home from the war in Iraq, US Army private Roy Scranton thought he'd left the world of strife behind. Then he watched as new calamities struck America, heralding a threat far more dangerous than ISIS or Al Qaeda: Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, megadrought--the shock and awe of global warming. Our world is changing. Rising seas, spiking temperatures, and extreme weather imperil global infrastructure, crops, and water supplies. Conflict, famine, plagues, and riots menace from every quarter. From war-stricken Baghdad to the melting Arctic, human-caused climate change poses a danger not only to political and economic stability, but to civilization itself . . . and to what it means to be human. Our greatest enemy, it turns out, is ourselves. The warmer, wetter, more chaotic world we now live in--the Anthropocene--demands a radical new vision of human life. In this bracing response to climate change, Roy Scranton combines memoir, reportage, philosophy, and Zen wisdom to explore what it means to be human in a rapidly evolving world, taking readers on a journey through street protests, the latest findings of earth scientists, a historic UN summit, millennia of geological history, and the persistent vitality of ancient literature. Expanding on his influential New York Times essay (the #1 most-emailed article the day it appeared, and selected for Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014), Scranton responds to the existential problem of global warming by arguing that in order to survive, we must come to terms with death. Plato argued that to philosophize is to learn to die. If that’s true, says Scranton, then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age—or this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene. The trouble now is that we must learn to die not as individuals, but as a civilization. A war veteran, journalist, author, and Princeton PhD candidate, Roy Scranton has published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Boston Review, and Theory and Event, and has been interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air, among other media. More praise for Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: "Perhaps it is because he is a soldier, perhaps it is because he is a literate human being, but the fact is--Roy Scranton gets it. He knows in his bones that this civilization is over. He knows it is high time to start again the human dance of making some other way to live. In his distinctive and original way he works though a common cultural inheritance, making it something fresh and new for these all too interesting times. This compressed, essential text offers both uncomfortable truths and unexpected joy."--McKenzie Wark, author of Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene

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4.8/5

Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens by Steve Olson

For months in early 1980, scientists, journalists, and nearby residents listened anxiously to rumblings from Mount St. Helens in southwestern Washington State. Still, no one was prepared when a cataclysmic eruption blew the top off of the mountain, laying waste to hundreds of square miles of land and killing fifty-seven people. Steve Olson interweaves vivid personal storie For months in early 1980, scientists, journalists, and nearby residents listened anxiously to rumblings from Mount St. Helens in southwestern Washington State. Still, no one was prepared when a cataclysmic eruption blew the top off of the mountain, laying waste to hundreds of square miles of land and killing fifty-seven people. Steve Olson interweaves vivid personal stories with the history, science, and economic forces that influenced the fates and futures of those around the volcano. Eruption delivers a spellbinding narrative of an event that changed the course of volcanic science, and an epic tale of our fraught relationship with the natural world.

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5/5

Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America by Craig Childs

From the author of Apocalyptic Planet comes a vivid travelogue through prehistory, that traces the arrival of the first people in North America at least twenty thousand years ago and the artifacts that tell of their lives and fates. In Atlas of a Lost World, Craig Childs upends our notions of where these people came from and who they were. How they got here, persevered, and From the author of Apocalyptic Planet comes a vivid travelogue through prehistory, that traces the arrival of the first people in North America at least twenty thousand years ago and the artifacts that tell of their lives and fates. In Atlas of a Lost World, Craig Childs upends our notions of where these people came from and who they were. How they got here, persevered, and ultimately thrived is a story that resonates from the Pleistocene to our modern era. The lower sea levels of the Ice Age exposed a vast land bridge between Asia and North America, but the land bridge was not the only way across. Different people arrived from different directions, and not all at the same time. The first explorers of the New World were few, their encampments fleeting. The continent they reached had no people but was inhabited by megafauna--mastodons, giant bears, mammoths, saber-toothed cats, five-hundred-pound panthers, enormous bison, and sloths that stood one story tall. The first people were hunters--Paleolithic spear points are still encrusted with the proteins of their prey--but they were wildly outnumbered and many would themselves have been prey to the much larger animals. Atlas of a Lost World chronicles the last millennia of the Ice Age, the violent oscillations and retreat of glaciers, the clues and traces that document the first encounters of early humans, and the animals whose presence governed the humans' chances for survival. A blend of science and personal narrative reveals how much has changed since the time of mammoth hunters, and how little. Across unexplored landscapes yet to be peopled, readers will see the Ice Age, and their own age, in a whole new light.

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4.5/5

Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern , David Grinspoon

Alan Stern and David Grinspoon take us behind the scenes of the science, politics, egos, and public expectations that fueled the greatest space mission of our time: New Horizons' misison to Pluto. On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened. More than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per h Alan Stern and David Grinspoon take us behind the scenes of the science, politics, egos, and public expectations that fueled the greatest space mission of our time: New Horizons' misison to Pluto. On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened. More than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per hour, focusing its instruments on the long mysterious icy worlds of the Pluto system, and then, just as quickly, continued on its journey out into the beyond. Nothing like this has occurred in a generation--a raw exploration of new worlds unparalleled since NASA's Voyager missions to Uranus and Neptune--and nothing like it is planned to happen ever again. The photos that New Horizons sent back to Earth graced the front pages of newspapers on all 7 continents, and NASA's website for the mission received more than 2 billion hits in the days surrounding the flyby. At a time when so many think our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded but made history and captured the world's imagination. How did this happen? Chasing New Horizons is the story of the men and women behind the mission: of their decades-long commitment; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission; and of the plans for New Horizons' next encounter, 1 billion miles past Pluto. Told from the insider's perspective of Dr. Alan Stern--the man who led the mission--Chasing New Horizons is a riveting story of scientific discovery, and of how far humanity can go when people focused on a dream work together toward their incredible goal.

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4.8/5

Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History by Lewis Dartnell

A New York Times-bestselling author explains how the physical world shaped the history of our species When we talk about human history, we often focus on great leaders, population forces, and decisive wars. But how has the earth itself determined our destiny? Our planet wobbles, driving changes in climate that forced the transition from nomadism to farming. Mountainous ter A New York Times-bestselling author explains how the physical world shaped the history of our species When we talk about human history, we often focus on great leaders, population forces, and decisive wars. But how has the earth itself determined our destiny? Our planet wobbles, driving changes in climate that forced the transition from nomadism to farming. Mountainous terrain led to the development of democracy in Greece. Atmospheric circulation patterns later on shaped the progression of global exploration, colonization, and trade. Even today, voting behavior in the south-east United States ultimately follows the underlying pattern of 75 million-year-old sediments from an ancient sea. Everywhere is the deep imprint of the planetary on the human. From the cultivation of the first crops to the founding of modern states, Origins reveals the breathtaking impact of the earth beneath our feet on the shape of our human civilizations.

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3.6/5

Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional-and What That Means for Life in the Universe by David Waltham

Humankind has long fantasized about life elsewhere in the universe. And as we discover countless exoplanets orbiting other stars—among them, rocky super-Earths and gaseous Hot Jupiters—we become ever more hopeful that we may come across extraterrestrial life. Yet even as we become aware of the vast numbers of planets outside our solar system, it has also become clear that Humankind has long fantasized about life elsewhere in the universe. And as we discover countless exoplanets orbiting other stars—among them, rocky super-Earths and gaseous Hot Jupiters—we become ever more hopeful that we may come across extraterrestrial life. Yet even as we become aware of the vast numbers of planets outside our solar system, it has also become clear that Earth is exceptional. The question is: why? In Lucky Planet, astrobiologist David Waltham argues that Earth’s climate stability is one of the primary factors that makes it able to support life, and that nothing short of luck made such conditions possible. The four-billion-year stretch of good weather that our planet has experienced is statistically so unlikely, he shows, that chances are slim that we will ever encounter intelligent extraterrestrial others. Describing the three factors that typically control a planet’s average temperature—the heat received from its star, how much heat the planet absorbs, and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—Waltham paints a complex picture of how special Earth’s climate really is. He untangles the mystery of why, although these factors have shifted by such massive measures over the history of life on Earth, surface temperatures have never fluctuated so much as to make conditions hostile to life. Citing factors such as the size of our Moon and the effect of an ever-warming Sun, Waltham challenges the prevailing scientific consensus that other Earth-like planets have natural stabilizing mechanisms that allow life to flourish. A lively exploration of the stars above and the ground beneath our feet, Lucky Planet seamlessly weaves the story of Earth and the worlds orbiting other stars to give us a new perspective of the surprising role chance plays in our place in the universe.

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4/5

Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery

From internationally bestselling author and celebrated scientist Tim Flannery, a history of Europe unlike any before: an ecological account of the land itself and the forces shaping life on it. In Europe: A Natural History, world-renowned scientist, explorer, and conservationist Tim Flannery applies the eloquent interdisciplinary approach he used in his ecological historie From internationally bestselling author and celebrated scientist Tim Flannery, a history of Europe unlike any before: an ecological account of the land itself and the forces shaping life on it. In Europe: A Natural History, world-renowned scientist, explorer, and conservationist Tim Flannery applies the eloquent interdisciplinary approach he used in his ecological histories of Australia and North America to the story of Europe. He begins 100 million years ago, when the continents of Asia, North America, and Africa interacted to create an island archipelago that would later become the Europe we know today. It was on these ancient tropical lands that the first distinctly European organisms evolved. Flannery teaches us about Europe's midwife toad, which has endured since the continent's beginning, while elephants, crocodiles, and giant sharks have come and gone. He explores the monumental changes wrought by the devastating comet strike and shows how rapid atmospheric shifts transformed the European archipelago into a single landmass during the Eocene. As the story moves through millions of years of evolutionary history, Flannery eventually turns to our own species, describing the immense impact humans had on the continent's flora and fauna--within 30,000 years of our arrival in Europe, the woolly rhino, the cave bear, and the giant elk, among others, would disappear completely. The story continues right up to the present, as Flannery describes Europe's leading role in wildlife restoration, and then looks ahead to ponder the continent's future: with advancements in gene editing technology, European scientists are working to recreate some of the continent's lost creatures, such as the great ox of Europe's primeval forests and even the woolly mammoth. Written with Flannery's characteristic combination of elegant prose and scientific expertise, Europe: A Natural History narrates the dramatic natural history and dynamic evolution of one of the most influential places on Earth.

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3/5

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon. Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. F Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon. Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past. Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.

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4.2/5

The Galápagos: A Natural History by Henry Nicholls

Charles Darwin called it "a little world within itself." Sailors referred to it as "Las Encantadas"- the enchanted islands. Lying in the eastern Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator off the west coast of South America, the Galápagos is the most pristine archipelago to be found anywhere in the tropics. It is so remote, so untouched, that the act of wading ashore can make y Charles Darwin called it "a little world within itself." Sailors referred to it as "Las Encantadas"- the enchanted islands. Lying in the eastern Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator off the west coast of South America, the Galápagos is the most pristine archipelago to be found anywhere in the tropics. It is so remote, so untouched, that the act of wading ashore can make you feel like you are the first to do so. Yet the Galápagos is far more than a wild paradise on earth-it is one of the most important sites in the history of science. Home to over 4,000 species native to its shores, around 40 percent of them endemic, the islands have often been called a "laboratory of evolution." The finches collected on the Galápagos inspired Darwin's revolutionary theory of natural selection. In The Galápagos, science writer Henry Nicholls offers a lively natural and human history of the archipelago, charting its course from deserted wilderness to biological testing ground and global ecotourism hot spot. Describing the island chain's fiery geological origins as well as our species' long history of interaction with the islands, he draws vivid portraits of the life forms found in the Galápagos, capturing its awe-inspiring landscapes, understated flora, and stunning wildlife. Nicholls also reveals the immense challenges facing the islands, which must continually balance conservation and everencroaching development. Beautifully weaving together natural history, evolutionary theory, and his own experience on the islands, Nicholls shows that the story of the Galápagos is not merely an isolated concern, but reflects the future of our species' relationship with nature-and the fate of our planet.

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4.6/5

Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World by Alexandra Witze , Jeff Kanipe

Laki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years.  It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe. Island on Fire Laki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years.  It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe. Island on Fire is the story not only of a single eruption but the people whose lives it changed, the dawn of modern volcanology, as well as the history—and potential—of other super-volcanoes like Laki around the world. And perhaps most pertinently, in the wake of the eruption of another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which closed European air space in 2010, acclaimed science writers Witze and Kanipe look at what might transpire should Laki erupt again in our lifetime.

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4.4/5

Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Land by Lauret Savoy

Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her—paths of free and ensl Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her—paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land—lie largely eroded and lost. In this provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Savoy explores how the country’s still unfolding history, and ideas of “race,” have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from “Indian Territory” and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past. In distinctive and illuminating prose that is attentive to the rhythms of language and landscapes, she weaves together human stories of migration, silence, and displacement, as epic as the continent they survey, with uplifted mountains, braided streams, and eroded canyons.

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3.7/5

The Wood for the Trees: The Long View of Nature from a Small Wood by Richard Fortey

From one of our greatest science writers, this biography of a beech-and-bluebell wood through diverse moods and changing seasons combines stunning natural history with the ancient history of the countryside to tell the full story of the British landscape. ‘The woods are the great beauty of this country… A fine forest-like beech wood far more beautiful than anything else whi From one of our greatest science writers, this biography of a beech-and-bluebell wood through diverse moods and changing seasons combines stunning natural history with the ancient history of the countryside to tell the full story of the British landscape. ‘The woods are the great beauty of this country… A fine forest-like beech wood far more beautiful than anything else which we have seen in its vicinity’ is how John Stuart Mill described a small patch of beech-and bluebell woodland, buried deeply in the Chiltern Hills and now owned by Richard Fortey. Drawing upon a lifetime of scientific expertise and abiding love of nature, Fortey uses his small wood to tell a wider story of the ever-changing British landscape, human influence on the countryside over many centuries and the vital interactions between flora, fauna and fungi. The trees provide a majestic stage for woodland animals and plants to reveal their own stories. Fortey presents his wood as an interwoven collection of different habitats rich in species. His attention ranges from the beech and cherry trees that dominate the wood to the flints underfoot; the red kites and woodpeckers that soar overhead; the lichens, mosses and liverworts decorating the branches as well as the myriad species of spiders, moths, beetles and crane-flies. The 300 species of fungi identified in the wood capture his attention as much as familiar deer, shrews and dormice. Fortey is a naturalist who believes that all organisms are as interesting as human beings – and certainly more important than the observer. So this book is a close examination of nature and human history. He proves that poetic writing is compatible with scientific precision. The book is filled with details of living animals and plants, charting the passage of the seasons, visits by fellow enthusiasts; the play of light between branches; the influence of geology; and how woodland influences history, architecture and industry. On every page he shows how an intimate study of one small wood can reveal so much about the natural world and demonstrates his relish for the incomparable pleasures of discovery.

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4.7/5

The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester

In 1793, a canal digger named William Smith made a startling discovery. He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell -- clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world -- making it possible, for the first time ever, to draw a chart of the hidden underside In 1793, a canal digger named William Smith made a startling discovery. He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell -- clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world -- making it possible, for the first time ever, to draw a chart of the hidden underside of the earth. Determined to expose what he realized was the landscape's secret fourth dimension, Smith spent twenty-two years piecing together the fragments of this unseen universe to create an epochal and remarkably beautiful hand-painted map. But instead of receiving accolades and honors, he ended up in debtors' prison, the victim of plagiarism, and virtually homeless for ten years more. Finally, in 1831, this quiet genius -- now known as the father of modern geology -- received the Geological Society of London's highest award and King William IV offered him a lifetime pension. The Map That Changed the World is a very human tale of endurance and achievement, of one man's dedication in the face of ruin. With a keen eye and thoughtful detail, Simon Winchester unfolds the poignant sacrifice behind this world-changing discovery.

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3.3/5

Annals of the Former World by John McPhee

The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years Twenty years ago, when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States, he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and, in the process, come to an understanding not only of the science but of the The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years Twenty years ago, when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States, he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and, in the process, come to an understanding not only of the science but of the style of the geologists he traveled with. The structure of the book never changed, but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages, under the overall title Annals of the Former World. Like the terrain it covers, Annals of the Former World tells a multilayered tale, and the reader may choose one of many paths through it. As clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed, this is our finest popular survey of geology and a masterpiece of modern nonfiction. Annals of the Former World is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

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3.6/5

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester

The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano — Krakatoa. The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa — the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster — The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano — Krakatoa. The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa — the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster — was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round the planet for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogotá and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all — in view of today's new political climate — the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling back to life.

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4.1/5

Basin and Range by John McPhee

The first of John McPhee’s works in his series on geology and geologists, Basin and Range is a book of journeys through ancient terrains, always in juxtaposition with travels in the modern world—a history of vanished landscapes, enhanced by the histories of people who bring them to light. The title refers to the physiographic province of the United States that reaches from The first of John McPhee’s works in his series on geology and geologists, Basin and Range is a book of journeys through ancient terrains, always in juxtaposition with travels in the modern world—a history of vanished landscapes, enhanced by the histories of people who bring them to light. The title refers to the physiographic province of the United States that reaches from eastern Utah to eastern California, a silent world of austere beauty, of hundreds of discrete high mountain ranges that are green with junipers and often white with snow. The terrain becomes the setting for a lyrical evocation of the science of geology, with important digressions into the plate-tectonics revolution and the history of the geologic time scale.

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4.7/5

Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey

In Earth, the acclaimed author of Trilobite! and Life takes us on a grand tour of the earth’s physical past, showing how the history of plate tectonics is etched in the landscape around us.   Beginning with Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in Roman times helped spark the science of geology, and ending in a lab in the West of England where mathematical models and lab experiments In Earth, the acclaimed author of Trilobite! and Life takes us on a grand tour of the earth’s physical past, showing how the history of plate tectonics is etched in the landscape around us.   Beginning with Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in Roman times helped spark the science of geology, and ending in a lab in the West of England where mathematical models and lab experiments replace direct observation, Richard Fortey tells us what the present says about ancient geologic processes. He shows how plate tectonics came to rule the geophysical landscape and how the evidence is written in the hills and in the stones. And in the process, he takes us on a wonderful journey around the globe to visit some of the most fascinating and intriguing spots on the planet.

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3.6/5

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson , William Roberts (Narrator)

In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

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4/5

A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester

Unleashed by ancient geologic forces, a magnitude 8.25 earthquake rocked San Francisco in the early hours of April 18, 1906. Less than a minute later, the city lay in ruins. Bestselling author Simon Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities to this extraordinary event, exploring the legendary earthquake and fires that spread horror across San Francisco and no Unleashed by ancient geologic forces, a magnitude 8.25 earthquake rocked San Francisco in the early hours of April 18, 1906. Less than a minute later, the city lay in ruins. Bestselling author Simon Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities to this extraordinary event, exploring the legendary earthquake and fires that spread horror across San Francisco and northern California in 1906 as well as its startling impact on American history and, just as important, what science has recently revealed about the fascinating subterranean processes that produced it—and almost certainly will cause it to strike again.

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4.7/5

Rising from the Plains by John McPhee

This is about high-country geology and a Rocky Mountain regional geologist. I raise that semaphore here at the start so no one will feel misled by an opening passage in which a slim young woman who is not in any sense a geologist steps down from a train in Rawlins, Wyoming, in order to go north by stagecoach into country that was still very much the Old West. So begins John This is about high-country geology and a Rocky Mountain regional geologist. I raise that semaphore here at the start so no one will feel misled by an opening passage in which a slim young woman who is not in any sense a geologist steps down from a train in Rawlins, Wyoming, in order to go north by stagecoach into country that was still very much the Old West. So begins John McPhee's Rising from the Plains. If you like to read about geology, you will find good reading here. If, on the other hand, you are not much engaged by the spatial complexities of the science, you could miss a richness of human history that has its place among the strata described. Sometimes it is said of geologists that they reflect in their professional styles the sort of country in which they grew up. Nowhere could that be more true than in the life of a geologist born in the center of Wyoming and raised on an isolated ranch. This is the story of that ranch, soon after the turn of the century, and of the geologist who grew up there, at home with the composition of the high country in the way that someone growing up in a coastal harbor would be at home with the vagaries of the sea. While Rising from the Plains is a portrayal of extraordinary people, it is also a history of the landscape around them, where, with remarkable rapidity, mountains came up out of the flat terrain. Gradually, the mountains were buried, until only the higher peaks remained above a vast plain. Recently, they have been exhumed, and they stand now as the Rockies. Rising from the Plains is John McPhee's third book on geology and geologists. Following Basin and Range and In Suspect Terrain, it continues to present a cross section of North America along the fortieth parallel—a series gathering under the overall title Annals of the Former World. Description from the first-edition dust jacket (1986).

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4.4/5

The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet by Robert M. Hazen

Earth evolves. From first atom to molecule, mineral to magma, granite crust to single cell to verdant living landscape, ours is a planet constantly in flux. In this radical new approach to Earth’s biography, senior Carnegie Institution researcher and national bestselling author Robert M. Hazen reveals how the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere—of rocks and living Earth evolves. From first atom to molecule, mineral to magma, granite crust to single cell to verdant living landscape, ours is a planet constantly in flux. In this radical new approach to Earth’s biography, senior Carnegie Institution researcher and national bestselling author Robert M. Hazen reveals how the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere—of rocks and living matter—has shaped our planet into the only one of its kind in the Solar System, if not the entire cosmos. With an astrobiologist’s imagination, a historian’s perspective, and a naturalist’s passion for the ground beneath our feet, Hazen explains how changes on an atomic level translate into dramatic shifts in Earth’s makeup over its 4.567 billion year existence. He calls upon a flurry of recent discoveries to portray our planet’s many iterations in vivid detail—from its fast-rotating infancy when the Sun rose every five hours and the Moon filled 250 times more sky than it does now, to its sea-bathed youth before the first continents arose; from the Great Oxidation Event that turned the land red, to the globe-altering volcanism that may have been the true killer of the dinosaurs. Through Hazen’s theory of “co-evolution,” we learn how reactions between organic molecules and rock crystals may have generated Earth’s first organisms, which in turn are responsible for more than two-thirds of the mineral varieties on the planet—thousands of different kinds of crystals that could not exist in a nonliving world. The Story of Earth is also the story of the pioneering men and women behind the sciences. Readers will meet black-market meteorite hawkers of the Sahara Desert, the gun-toting Feds who guarded the Apollo missions’ lunar dust, and the World War II Navy officer whose super-pressurized “bomb”—recycled from military hardware—first simulated the molten rock of Earth’s mantle. As a mentor to a new generation of scientists, Hazen introduces the intrepid young explorers whose dispatches from Earth’s harshest landscapes will revolutionize geology. Celebrated by the New York Times for writing “with wonderful clarity about science . . . that effortlessly teaches as it zips along,” Hazen proves a brilliant and entertaining guide on this grand tour of our planet inside and out. Lucid, controversial, and intellectually bracing, The Story of Earth is popular science of the highest order.  

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4.3/5

Assembling California by John McPhee

At various times in a span of fifteen years, John McPhee made geological field surveys in the company of Eldridge Moores, a tectonicist at the University of California at Davis. The result of these trips is Assembling California, a cross-section in human and geologic time, from Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada through the golden foothills of the Mother Lode and across the At various times in a span of fifteen years, John McPhee made geological field surveys in the company of Eldridge Moores, a tectonicist at the University of California at Davis. The result of these trips is Assembling California, a cross-section in human and geologic time, from Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada through the golden foothills of the Mother Lode and across the Great Central Valley to the wine country of the Coast Ranges, the rock of San Francisco, and the San Andreas family of faults. The two disparate time scales occasionally intersect--in the gold disruptions of the nineteenth century no less than in the earthquakes of the twentieth--and always with relevance to a newly understood geologic history in which half a dozen large and separate pieces of country are seen to have drifted in from far and near to coalesce as California. McPhee and Moores also journeyed to remote mountains of Arizona and to Cyprus and northern Greece, where rock of the deep-ocean floor has been transported into continental settings, as it has in California. Global in scope and a delight to read, Assembling California is a sweeping narrative of maps in motion, of evolving and dissolving lands.

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3.2/5

Principles of Geology by Charles Lyell , James A. Secord

One of the key works in the nineteenth-century battle between science and Scripture, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830-33) sought to explain the geological state of the modern Earth by considering the long-term effects of observable natural phenomena. Written with clarity and a dazzling intellectual passion, it is both a seminal work of modern geology and a compe One of the key works in the nineteenth-century battle between science and Scripture, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830-33) sought to explain the geological state of the modern Earth by considering the long-term effects of observable natural phenomena. Written with clarity and a dazzling intellectual passion, it is both a seminal work of modern geology and a compelling precursor to Darwinism, exploring the evidence for radical changes in climate and geography across the ages and speculating on the progressive development of life. A profound influence on Darwin, Principles of Geology also captured the imagination of contemporaries such as Melville, Emerson, Tennyson and George Eliot, transforming science with its depiction of the powerful forces that shape the natural world.

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4.7/5

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In p Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, The New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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3.2/5

Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth by Marcia Bjornerud

To many of us, the Earth's crust is a relic of ancient, unknowable history. But to a geologist, stones are richly illustrated narratives, telling gothic tales of cataclysm and reincarnation. For more than four billion years, in beach sand, granite, and garnet schists, the planet has kept a rich and idiosyncratic journal of its past. Fulbright Scholar Marcia Bjornerud takes To many of us, the Earth's crust is a relic of ancient, unknowable history. But to a geologist, stones are richly illustrated narratives, telling gothic tales of cataclysm and reincarnation. For more than four billion years, in beach sand, granite, and garnet schists, the planet has kept a rich and idiosyncratic journal of its past. Fulbright Scholar Marcia Bjornerud takes the reader along on an eye-opening tour of Deep Time, explaining in elegant prose what we see and feel beneath our feet. Both scientist and storyteller, Bjornerud uses anecdotes and metaphors to remind us that our home is a living thing with lessons to teach. Containing a glossary and detailed timescale, as well as vivid descriptions and historic accounts, Reading the Rocks is literally a history of the world, for all friends of the Earth.

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3.5/5

The Control of Nature by John McPhee

While John McPhee was working on his previous book, Rising from the Plains, he happened to walk by the engineering building at the University of Wyoming, where words etched in limestone said: "Strive on--the control of Nature is won, not given." In the morning sunlight, that central phrase--"the control of nature"--seemed to sparkle with unintended ambiguity. Bilateral, sy While John McPhee was working on his previous book, Rising from the Plains, he happened to walk by the engineering building at the University of Wyoming, where words etched in limestone said: "Strive on--the control of Nature is won, not given." In the morning sunlight, that central phrase--"the control of nature"--seemed to sparkle with unintended ambiguity. Bilateral, symmetrical, it could with equal speed travel in opposite directions. For some years, he had been planning a book about places in the world where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature, about (in the words of the book itself) "any struggle against natural forces--heroic or venal, rash or well advised--when human beings conscript themselves to fight against the earth, to take what is not given, to rout the destroying enemy, to surround the base of Mt. Olympus demanding and expecting the surrender of the gods." His interest had first been sparked when he went into the Atchafalaya--the largest river swamp in North America--and had learned that virtually all of its waters were metered and rationed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project called Old River Control. In the natural cycles of the Mississippi's deltaic plain, the time had come for the Mississippi to change course, to shift its mouth more than a hundred miles and go down the Atchafalaya, one of its distributary branches. The United States could not afford that--for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all the industries that lie between would be cut off from river commerce with the rest of the nation. At a place called Old River, the Corps therefore had built a great fortress--part dam, part valve--to restrain the flow of the Atchafalaya and compel the Mississippi to stay where it is. In Iceland, in 1973, an island split open without warning and huge volumes of lava began moving in the direction of a harbor scarcely half a mile away. It was not only Iceland's premier fishing port (accounting for a large percentage of Iceland's export economy) but it was also the only harbor along the nation's southern coast. As the lava threatened to fill the harbor and wipe it out, a physicist named Thorbjorn Sigurgeirsson suggested a way to fight against the flowing red rock--initiating an all-out endeavor unique in human history. On the big island of Hawaii, one of the world's two must eruptive hot spots, people are not unmindful of the Icelandic example. McPhee went to Hawaii to talk with them and to walk beside the edges of a molten lake and incandescent rivers. Some of the more expensive real estate in Los Angeles is up against mountains that are rising and disintegrating as rapidly as any in the world. After a complex coincidence of natural events, boulders will flow out of these mountains like fish eggs, mixed with mud, sand, and smaller rocks in a cascading mass known as debris flow. Plucking up trees and cars, bursting through doors and windows, filling up houses to their eaves, debris flows threaten the lives of people living in and near Los Angeles' famous canyons. At extraordinary expense the city has built a hundred and fifty stadium-like basins in a daring effort to catch the debris. Taking us deep into these contested territories, McPhee details the strategies and tactics through which people attempt to control nature. Most striking in his vivid depiction of the main contestants: nature in complex and awesome guises, and those who would attempt to wrest control from her--stubborn, often ingenious, and always arresting characters.

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4.1/5

The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood, and the Humble Genius who Discovered a New History of the Earth by Alan Cutler

The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science Sainthood and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of the Earth

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