Super Volcanoes

What They Reveal about Earth and the Worlds Beyond

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Pub Date 2 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2021

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An exhilarating, time-traveling journey to the solar system’s strangest and most awe-inspiring volcanoes.

Volcanoes are capable of acts of pyrotechnical prowess verging on magic: they spout black magma more fluid than water, create shimmering cities of glass at the bottom of the ocean and frozen lakes of lava on the moon, and can even tip entire planets over. Between lava that melts and re-forms the landscape, and noxious volcanic gases that poison the atmosphere, volcanoes have threatened life on Earth countless times in our planet’s history. Yet despite their reputation for destruction, volcanoes are inseparable from the creation of our planet.

A lively and utterly fascinating guide to these geologic wonders, Super Volcanoes revels in the incomparable power of volcanic eruptions past and present, Earthbound and otherwise—and recounts the daring and sometimes death-defying careers of the scientists who study them. Science journalist and volcanologist Robin George Andrews explores how these eruptions reveal secrets about the worlds to which they belong, describing the stunning ways in which volcanoes can sculpt the sea, land, and sky, and even influence the machinery that makes or breaks the existence of life.

Walking us through the mechanics of some of the most infamous eruptions on Earth, Andrews outlines what we know about how volcanoes form, erupt, and evolve, as well as what scientists are still trying to puzzle out. How can we better predict when a deadly eruption will occur—and protect communities in the danger zone? Is Earth’s system of plate tectonics, unique in the solar system, the best way to forge a planet that supports life? And if life can survive and even thrive in Earth’s extreme volcanic environments—superhot, superacidic, and supersaline surroundings previously thought to be completely inhospitable—where else in the universe might we find it?

Traveling from Hawai‘i, Yellowstone, Tanzania, and the ocean floor to the moon, Venus, and Mars, Andrews illuminates the cutting-edge discoveries and lingering scientific mysteries surrounding these phenomenal forces of nature.

About the Author: Robin George Andrews is a science journalist with a PhD in volcanology. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, National Geographic, Scientific American, Atlas Obscura, and other publications.

An exhilarating, time-traveling journey to the solar system’s strangest and most awe-inspiring volcanoes.

Volcanoes are capable of acts of pyrotechnical prowess verging on magic: they spout black...

Advance Praise

"Delightful. Robin George Andrews brings his expertise and enthusiasm to bear on this explosive subject, vividly connecting the Hadean underworld of magma to the human one above, and inviting the reader into the ongoing quest to understand volcanoes’ secrets—on Earth and far beyond." - Peter Brannen, author of The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions

"Dr. Robin Andrews takes us on an explosive, gassy, messy adventure decoding the epic hot mess that is volcanism on Earth and far beyond. If volcanoes have ever triggered even a minor explosion of fear, excitement, awe, confusion, or curiosity for you: Read. This. Book." - Dr. Janine Krippner, volcanologist, Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program

"I always suspected that volcanoes were the most amazing things on Earth, but I never knew that they’re also the most amazing things in the entire solar system. Andrews is a deeply informed and endlessly enthusiastic guide to these geological marvels." - Steve Olson, author of Eruption and The Apocalypse Factory

"Andrews takes us on the adventure of a geological lifetime in Super Volcanoes, a masterwork which explores the engines of our world and of those throughout the solar system. We do not go alone on this epic journey, we are accompanied by those who have shared with us their colorful lived experiences and expertise which, when combined with a molten rock theme, means this is certainly no cold, hard science piece, but one of great humanity and scientific depth." - James O’Donoghue, Planetary Scientist, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

"Dr. Robin George Andrews wields the dual instruments of scientific training and journalistic curiosity with expert precision in Super Volcanoes. His skillful blend of storytelling and science fact sheds light into the dark crevasses of the human psyche, so often primed to fear volcanoes—yet another misunderstood feature of our natural world. Andrews’s work gives voice to the wonder, the devastation, and the awe of being human in a world shaped by forces far outside of our control, yet still tantalizingly within reach for the scientists brave enough to heed the call of the volcanic unknown." - Jess Phoenix, volcanologist and author of Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life

"Delightful. Robin George Andrews brings his expertise and enthusiasm to bear on this explosive subject, vividly connecting the Hadean underworld of magma to the human one above, and inviting the...

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ISBN 9780393542066
PRICE US$27.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Really insightful and entertaining book about a very dangerous subject. Loved all of the in-depth stories surrounding some of the world's most volatile volcanoes. Really recommend this for those wanting to know more on the subject. Lots of history and facts that I wasn't aware of.

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Super Volcanoes was a light, fun and informative popular science read. This book is great for people who don't know a lot about the topic because it covers a broad range from historical volcanoes to land volcanoes to sea volcanoes and even into space describing volcanic activity on our moon and several other planets. I enjoyed the combination of history and science. My favorite chapter was the one about volcanic activity on our moon. This is a topic that was a fascinating read, and that I haven't thought much about previously. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. I enjoyed it a lot!

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I seem to be reading a lot about volcanoes lately (books and online articles), and "Super Volcanoes" is among the best. Robin George Andrews takes us on a journey around the earth (and below the seas), and into the solar system. This is written simply, so even the beginner can easily grasp the concepts, and makes this a fast, fun, and enjoyable read. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.

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This book demystifies the concept of super volcanoes while at the same time giving us an in-depth look at numerous large volcanoes on Earth and other bodies in our solar system. It's written in a style that's easy for a layperson to understand and follow. Informative and entertaining, it's a good choice for anyone interested in earth science. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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I'd never thought about the moon and other planets when I thought about volcanoes, so this book offered an explanation of them that was more thorough than I've reaad before. It was accessible to a casual reader even though a couple time I had trouble wrapping my brain around the thoughts of volcanoes on Mars and Venus. This is a good addition to a public library collection.

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