Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters



PDevastating Natural Disasters Have Profoundly Shaped Human History, Leaving Us With A Respect For The Mighty Power Of The Earthmdash And A Humbling View Of Our Future Paleontologist And Geologist Donald R Prothero Tells The Harrowing Human Stories Behind These Catastrophic Events.PProthero Describes In Gripping Detail Some Of The Most Important Natural Disasters In History 58 PAcirc Bull The New Madrid, Missouri, Earthquakes Of 1811ndash 1812 That Caused Church Bells To Ring In BostonAcirc Bull The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami That Killed Than 230,000 PeopleAcirc Bull The Massive Volcanic Eruptions Of Krakatau, Mount Tambora, Mount Vesuvius, Mount St Helens, And Nevado Del RuizPHis Clear And Straightforward Explanations Of The Forces That Caused These Disasters Accompany Gut Wrenching Accounts Of Terrifying Human Experiences And A Staggering Loss Of Human Life PFloods That Wash Out Whole Regions, Earthquakes That Level A Single Country, Hurricanes That Destroy Everything In Their Pathmdash All Are Here To Remind Us Of How Little Control We Have Over The Natural World Dramatic Photographs And Eyewitness Accounts Recall The Devastation Wrought By These Events, And The Peoplemdash Both Heroes And Foolsmdash That Are Caught Up In The Earth S Relentless Forces PEerie, Fascinating, And Often Moving, These Tales Of Geologic History And Human Fortitude And Folly Will Stay With You Long After You Put The Book Down.Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters

Donald R Prothero is a Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology He teaches Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology His specialties are mammalian paleontology and magnetic stratigraphy of the Cenozoic His current research focuses on the dating of the climatic changes that occurred between 30 and 40 million years ago, using the technique of magnetic stratigraphy Dr Prothero has been a Guggenheim and NSF Fellow, a Fellow of the Linnean Society, and in 1991 received the Schuchert Award of the Paleontological Society for outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40, the same award won by the renowned paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould He has authored or co edited numerous books, including Horns, Tusks, Hooves and Flippers The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals, the best selling textbook from McGraw Hill, Evolution of the Earth, Evolution What the Fossils Say Why it Matters, Bringing Fossils to Life, After the Dinosaurs, and the textbook Sedimentary Geology He is also a Technical Editor of the Journal of Paleontology.

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  • Hardcover
  • 307 pages
  • Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters
  • Donald R. Prothero
  • English
  • 15 April 2019
  • 1421401479

10 thoughts on “Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters

  1. says:

    Since the dawn of human history, catastrophes like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and blizzards have been seen by many as the capricious acts of a wrathful Deity bent on punishing humanity Even today, most might ascribe such disasters as the work of Divine Providence run amok, instead of belonging to an ongoing series of naturally occurring geological and meteorological events Catastrophes Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and other Earth Shattering Disasters is a revealing, often insightf Since the dawn of human history, catastrophes like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and blizzards have been seen by many as the capricious acts of a wrathful Deity bent on punishing humanity Even today, most might ascribe such disasters as the work of Divine Providence run amok, instead of belonging to an ongoing series of naturally occurring geological and meteorological events Catastrophes Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and other Earth Shattering Disasters is a revealing, often insightful, look at these events, as seen from the eyes of distinguished vertebrate paleobiologist Donald Prothero, and one whose unique perspective comes just weeks after the horrific Sendai, Japan earthquake and tsunami Prothero discusses not only the natural history of these disasters, but, all too often, cites how governments and people have often ignored, at great peril to themselves, credible warnings by scientists regarding the potential dangers posed by such disasters Indeed, this isn t only true in classic examples as government and public responses to imminent volcanic eruptions and equations, but evenrelatively mundane disasters, such as landslides, which Prothero discusses at length, even when such discussions may be far less riveting than his accounts of the A D 79 eruption of the volcano Vesuvius, which wiped out the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii, or the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and yet, discussions worth noting by readers interested in potential lapses in public policy with respect to dealing with the potential for such disasters Catastrophes can be seen as a book organized loosely in three sections with the first five chapters devoted respectively to earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, landslides, and floods a much longer section devoted to meteorological disasters ranging from hurricanes to blizzards, that segues into extensive discussions of ice ages and mass extinctions Prothero is at his best in recounting natural catastrophes like the Vesuvius eruption, Lisbon and San Francisco earthquakes Such accounts are truly mesmerizing, drawn upon eyewitness accounts and greatly informed by his relevant knowledge of the geological sciences His writing tends to be a bit less engrossing when he discusses, for example, Landslides Chapter 4 , especially with regards to devastating landslides in and around his native Southern California, many of which, he implies, could have been prevented, had local governments and people heeded ample signs of prior landslides afflicting these Southern Californian hills Among the best discussions in Catastrophes are Prothero s extensive accounts of ice ages and mass extinctions His chapter on ice ages could serve as an excellent introduction to them in a basic geology course aimed for general audiences A close second is his chapter on mass extinctions, especially with regards to his excellent if rather terse discussion of current biodiversity losses in what many now regard as the Sixth great mass extinction in the Phanerozoic Eon, which, recently, in Nature, a team led by Prothero s Berkeley California colleague Anthony Barnovsky, has shown that ongoing extinction rates for plants and animals are nearly as high as those for the two worst mass extinctions in the last three hundred million years the terminal Permian mass extinction event that wiped out nearly 90% of Earth s biodiversity and the terminal Cretaceous mass extinction event that wiped out the nonavian dinosaurs, all of the great marine and flying reptiles and notable marine invertebrates like ammonites, distant relatives of the extant octopus and squid However, Prothero devotes too much of this chapter to debunking asteroid impacts as a primary cause of mass extinctions, including the terminal Cretaceous event, especially when there is indeed compelling evidence that points to its extraterrestrial origin in the form of a substantial submerged crater at Chicxulub, Yucatan, Mexico Instead, he cites questionable studies by Princeton micropaleontologist Gerta Keller which contend that the terminal Cretaceous mass extinction of planktic foraminifera amoeba which possesses calcium carbonate skeletons was a gradual, drawn out process comprised of stepped extinctions, not a sudden, catastrophic mass extinction, as other studies have demonstrated convincingly Keller is the sole notable opponent , and held onto her opposition, despite a substantial scientific literature that exists in support of a sudden, catastrophic collapse of planktic foraminiferal biodiversity Without a doubt, Prothero has offered a relatively concise overview of natural disasters in Catastrophes one that should garner ample interest, especially by those interested in public policy implications in the wake of both the Sendai, Japan earthquake and tsunami and ongoing meteorological disasters like the current series of deadly tornadoes in the Midwestern United States Lest one worries that volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are fardangerous and deadly than tornadoes, Prothero acknowledges in his concluding chapter, that there are farfatalities due to meteorological disasters than those resulting from these geological events associated with plate tectonics For these reasons alone, this book is a noteworthy contribution to our understanding of the natural history of natural disasters

  2. says:

    Catastrophes Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth Shattering Disasters By Donald R Prothero Catastrophes is a first rate look at natural disasters from apaleontological approach Inspired by the catastrophe of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, acclaimed science author and educator Donald R Prothero provides not only a fascinating look at catastrophes by category but shares many stories of the scientists and people affected by them This captivating 360 page book includes th Catastrophes Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth Shattering Disasters By Donald R Prothero Catastrophes is a first rate look at natural disasters from apaleontological approach Inspired by the catastrophe of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, acclaimed science author and educator Donald R Prothero provides not only a fascinating look at catastrophes by category but shares many stories of the scientists and people affected by them This captivating 360 page book includes the following twelve chapters 1 Earthquakes The Earth in Upheaval, 2 Tsunamis The Sea Rises Up, 3 Volcanoes Hell s Cauldron, 4 Landslides Gravity Always Wins, 5 Floods Raging Waters, 6 Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Typhoons Nature on the Rampage, 7 Tornadoes Funnels of Death 8 Blizzards White Death, 9 Ice Ages Frozen Planet, 10 Greenhouse Planet Too Hot to Handle , 11 Mass Extinctions When Life Nearly Died, and 12 Can We Survive Nature and Our Own Folly Positives 1 Well written, accessible, page turner of a science book Mixes in historical narratives with science, fun and enlightening.2 A fascinating topic in the hands of a subject matter expert With a Ph.D in geological sciences and authorship of many books and scientific papers, Prothero has earned my trust as a high quality science writer.3 Great use of visual materials Plenty of charts and photos.4 A solid introductory history to modern geology 5 Goes through the birth of modern seismology while narrating historical earthquakes.6 Throughout the book myths are debunked Many people believe in the myth of earthquake weather Supposedly, great earthquakes happen during unusually hot days In reality, there is no correlation between the occurrence of earthquakes and weather, daytime temperature, or time of day 7 Unbelievable facts As the Indian plate is pushed under the Burma plate, it produces a huge subduction zone that is responsible for the island nations of Indonesia and Malaysia The fault line of this plate boundary formed a rupture about 400 km 250 miles long and 100 km 60 miles wide, which was located 30 km 19 miles beneath the seabed the longest rupture ever caused by an earthquake The energy released by the quake was about 550 million timespowerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima 8 Goes through the different kinds of eruptions Not all volcanoes explode like Vesuvius, Krakatau, Tambora, or Mont Pel e Hawaiian volcanoes, familiar from nature films, erupt with relatively thin lava flows but do not blow their tops in a catastrophic explosion 9 Find out what country has the deadliest volcanoes and why.10 The underrated catastrophe of landslides A Richter magnitude 8 earthquake struck off the coast of Peru on May 31, 1970, to cause one of the deadliest landslides in recent history 11 A look at some of the world s deadliest floods 12 A fascinating look at the hurricanes of 2005 The year 2005 was turning out to be the worst hurricane season in recorded history By the end of the season in January 2006, there were a record 28 large, officially named tropical storms, and a record 15 had become hurricanes 13 Find out the costliest natural disaster in American history.14 Debunking popular tornado myths 15 Inside the Storm of the Century 1993 The storm caused about 6.6 billion in damage, making it one of the most costly blizzards in American history New Englanders may point to the blizzard of 1978 assevere in their region, while the blizzard of 1996 wassevere in the mid Atlantic states however, for sheer size, volume, and destructiveness, the 1993 snowstorm was truly the Storm of the Century in North America 16 The story behind Pangea all Earth.17 Perhaps one of the best answers to climate change denialists Prothero takes his gloves off and it s a work of beauty The most famous of these was conducted by Naomi Oreskes in 2004, which looked at all papers published on the topic in the world s leading scientific journal, Science, between 1993 and 2003 Of the hundreds of papers written by the world s top scientists, 980 supported global warming and none opposed it 18 A look at mass extinctions.19 Putting natural disasters in perspective Even AIDS, which is a relatively young epidemic spreading only since the 1980s , has killedthan 25 million people worldwide, farthan any natural disaster 20 Excellent bibliography Negatives 1 Links provided are limited to figures and chapters Notes are not provided.2 Not necessarily a catastrophe unless you are involved but sinkholes are becoming a hot button topic of late 3 Never hurts to go over the scientific method and in this case from a geologist and or paleontologist perspective It could be added in an appendix to avoid disrupting the flow of the book In summary, a fun and enlightening book on natural disasters Prothero produces high quality books for the masses to enjoy and this one doesn t disappoint This book is a good mix of historical anecdotes and sound science If you are looking for a fun book to read this summer and that will always be topical, this is it I highly recommend it Further recommendations Evolution What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by the same author, The Rocks Don t Lie by David R Montgomery, The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, Why Evolution Works and Creationism Fails by Matt Young, and The Making of the Fittest by Sean B Carroll

  3. says:

    Not a bad account of various disasters, though obviously written very fast and without checking the facts too thoroughly the Pompeian episode, which I know better than others, as well as the Lisbon one, have some obvious mistakes, mostly in numbers Otherwise useful, though at an early point it goes in the direction which is of less interest to me climate change, dinosaurs, etc

  4. says:

    oh man This book probably deserves it s own post for the bad ness of its numerical editing and the unevenly applied science Read with caution, and a hefty dose of not taking it seriously That said, the general depictions of past disasters were quite interesting

  5. says:

    As files to wanton boys, are we to th gods, they kill us for their sport Gloucester King Lear Act 4 Scene 1 This book chronicles some of the greatest natural disasters in human history and the mechanics that make them so deadly With a clear, straight forward style, Prothero recounts the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the 2004 Indian Tsunami, The Great Scablands Floods and many other such catastrophes that continue to remind us of just how fragile life is and how delicate our situation here o As files to wanton boys, are we to th gods, they kill us for their sport Gloucester King Lear Act 4 Scene 1 This book chronicles some of the greatest natural disasters in human history and the mechanics that make them so deadly With a clear, straight forward style, Prothero recounts the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the 2004 Indian Tsunami, The Great Scablands Floods and many other such catastrophes that continue to remind us of just how fragile life is and how delicate our situation here on Earth is That s the great part of this book it s not just a shock awe coffee table book with lots of pictures and scary captions It s a book that weaves history and science together with a message of humility before Nature Best of all, the last three chapters of the book focus on the ongoing crises of global warming and overpopulation Prothero takes no prisoners his firm criticism of the current disinformation campaign the certain special interest group s are promoting to keep the public ignorant of such grave threats to our livelihood Naturally, some people have been put off by this seeming side track into politics However, there is no greater place to discuss the evidence for such threats than in a book like this one This isn t just a book about the awesome and frightening power of Nature, it s also a call for action and awareness of our place and impact on the rest of planet around us Note This book is also a very easy read I took a while with it because life get s in the way HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  6. says:

    It is what it claims to be an overview of types and examples of natural disasters that afflict our world It provides a fairly good overview of the most dangerous and catastrophic events that humanity has experienced while offering reasons for some of the major events and suggestions as to how such occurrences can be mitigated in the future The writing style is clear and concise, not overly flowery or needlessly gruesome.I have this book for stars because most of the material was exactly as de It is what it claims to be an overview of types and examples of natural disasters that afflict our world It provides a fairly good overview of the most dangerous and catastrophic events that humanity has experienced while offering reasons for some of the major events and suggestions as to how such occurrences can be mitigated in the future The writing style is clear and concise, not overly flowery or needlessly gruesome.I have this book for stars because most of the material was exactly as described However, I withheld the fifth star because the last three chapter were like school lessons about ice ages, global warming and mass extinction One section even discussed how the world might end, going beyond the scope of this book

  7. says:

    Very interesting and readable book for a non science reader like me interested in geology, climate, and history The book is divided into chapters about different types of disasters the earthquake chapter starts with a description of how the 1755 Lisbon earthquake crushed the European optimistic spirit of its times We all know about the Christmas Indian Ocean tsunami now but interesting to read about it in context with other disasterous tsunamis that have hit coasts in the past Earthquake Very interesting and readable book for a non science reader like me interested in geology, climate, and history The book is divided into chapters about different types of disasters the earthquake chapter starts with a description of how the 1755 Lisbon earthquake crushed the European optimistic spirit of its times We all know about the Christmas Indian Ocean tsunami now but interesting to read about it in context with other disasterous tsunamis that have hit coasts in the past Earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, ice ages, landslides, hurricanes amazing things have happened to the Earth The top five natural disasters that have killed the most people have all occurred in Asia Floods in China hold the record for deadliest disasters Will look forbooks by this author

  8. says:

    Naturally occurring catastrophes are fascinating and frightening We had just visit New Madrid, Missouri, the site of hundreds of earthquakes between 1811 and 1812 so I was intrigued and wanted to learnI also wanted to learnabout the zones susceptible to hurricanes, the how and the why There were several brief, succinct accounts of many events of different types, blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, andIt didn t offer the depth I was seeking I wanted an Naturally occurring catastrophes are fascinating and frightening We had just visit New Madrid, Missouri, the site of hundreds of earthquakes between 1811 and 1812 so I was intrigued and wanted to learnI also wanted to learnabout the zones susceptible to hurricanes, the how and the why There were several brief, succinct accounts of many events of different types, blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, andIt didn t offer the depth I was seeking I wanted analysis from geological, financial and social perspectives that dug further than what this book offered It was the kind of book I would have picked up for a jr high or highschool report on the subjects

  9. says:

    A noteworthy contribution to our understanding of our planet Very readable and interesting on several levels, with a powerful ending that hits the reader with a gut punch that shocks us in the knowledge that, despite how explosive the catastrophic tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes are, the greatest threats to our well being, both in the short and long term, are the flooding, drought and climatic changes that we are bringing on ourselves as the result of man made global warming Th A noteworthy contribution to our understanding of our planet Very readable and interesting on several levels, with a powerful ending that hits the reader with a gut punch that shocks us in the knowledge that, despite how explosive the catastrophic tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes are, the greatest threats to our well being, both in the short and long term, are the flooding, drought and climatic changes that we are bringing on ourselves as the result of man made global warming The author devastates the arguments of those pesky head in the sand global warming deniers A perfect educational book on earth science for those without a comprehensive science background

  10. says:

    Don Prothero is a science hero of mine and he is a genuinely nice guy with a lovely family I suppose since I have heard Don speak on a number of these issues there was not too much for me to learn in this, his latest book If you never read Prothero, I suggest you begin with him most informative and sweeping and dynamic work, Evolution.

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