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Super Volcano


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About the Author

Greg Breining writes about the environment, adventure, and worldwide travel for The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated, Audubon, and other publications. His books include A Hard-Water World, Minnesota Yesterday & Today, Wild Shore, and Return of the Eagle, among others. Breining lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. www.gregbreining.com


Volcanologists have recently discovered some ancient volcano calderas so large they didn't even realize they were volcanoes. One of these, beneath Yellowstone National Park, has a caldera about 45 miles wide. This class of volcano is called a supervolcano, a term coined only recently. The world's largest supervolcano erupted in Colorado 23 million years ago, expelling 1200 cubic miles of magma. None has erupted in 630,000 years, but when one does, warns Breining (Wild Shore: Exploring Lake Superior by Kayak), there will be global consequences. Writing for a popular audience, he gives an overview of the science and classification of supervolcanoes, emphasizing the one beneath Yellowstone, which, he warns, is still active and could erupt at any time. Breining has written several books on fishing and on Minnesota, but he lacks the credentials to write an original work on this subject, so his book is largely derivative, merely summarizing others' research. Still, the topic is fascinating. Recommended for geology collections, academic libraries, and larger public libraries.-Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado & Health Sciences Ctr., Denver Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

PW Web Excusive Online reviews
"Science writer and author Breining ("Return of the Eagle") gives readers a solid introduction to modern volcanology in this look at 'super volcanoes' in general ... and the Yellowstone caldera ... Breining has done a public service by bringing these hazards to light with straight-forward writing and a well-organized text, clearly explaining complicated, violent geological processes without ignoring the awe-inspiring beauty of volcanic landscapes ... Bolstered by clearly laid-out maps, Breining's talent for elucidating complex phenomena makes this one of the best books on volcanoes a general reader can hope for."
"Choice, "March 2008
"Super Volcano" captures the essence, the excitement, and the deep and far-reaching influence of the world's greatest heat anomaly. Breining writes for the layperson with enthusiasm and informality, bringing the subjects to life...A rare read! Highly recommended."

Bookwormsez "syndicated column, "December 2007
"This book is fascinating and scary all at once and your recipients will gush over it."
Review in "Choice," March 1, 2008 (Circ.: 3,050 - Written for librarians. Contains critical, concise reviews of books suitable for college and university library collections) Fascination with Yellowstone grows and grows as we learn more about the history, the present situation, and the inevitable developments in near and distant future time. "Super Volcano "captures the essence, the excitement, and the deep and far-reaching influence of the world's greatest heat anomaly. Sections of this concise and easily readable book include 1) descriptions of volcanic activity, thermal springs, strange ecosystems, and earthquakes; 2) geological uniqueness and comparisons with other volcanic areas; 3) little-known and far-distant effects of Yellowstone eruptions of great relevance to humanity; 4) other super volcanoes in recent geologic time (Yellowstone is the fourth-largest known); and 5) prospects and circumstances of the next big blast from Yellowstone. Breining writes for the layperson with enthusiasm and informality, bringing the subjects to life with copious quotes from naturalists, field leaders, and volcanologists. Yellowstone and other super volcanoes are considered in terms of plate tectonics, evolution of scientific insights into the natural world, and--extremely important and underappreciated--impacts on the history and survival capabilities of humanity. A rare read! Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. -- "T. L.T. Grose, Colorado School of Mines"

BOOK NEWS" Inc, "December 2007
"Using field research and interviews with geologists and a paleontologist, Breining, an environmental and travel writer, reveals the truth about the Yellowstone super volcano."

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