here. I wandered across this at a flea market in upstate New York and paid 50 cents for a decent first edition. I don't think the market for first edition geology-themed books is blossoming so for now I'll just be happy that I enjoyed the book. The story follows a group of young boys at a suburban boarding school who become fascinated with geology and ask questions comparable to many undergraduates. Once you look past the obvious racism and the not so subtle chauvinism, it's an enjoyable glimpse into the science of geology circa 1907. In the chapter titled "Some Experiments In Explosive Volcanic Eruptions" the boys explore a chemical origin for volcanoes:
"I was reading a book," said Fred, "on the chemical theory of volcanoes. Instead of explaining volcanoes as caused by a heated mass that fills all the interior of an earth that was originally melted throughout, and has not yet completely cooled, it claims that the earth has completely cooled from the center to the outside, and that only here and there, at short distances below its surface are masses of rock that have become fused by heat caused by chemical action"Fred could have been reading any number of books, but I found an 1869 reference to this chemical origin for volcanoes written by Menteath. Chapter 10 of Sally Newcomb's "The World In A Crucible: Laboratory Practice and Geological Theory At the Beginning of Geology" also provides an interesting and thorough description of these early attempts to quantify and explain volcanism.
In the chapter titled "The Great San Francisco Earthquake" Mr. Johnson (the geology teacher) ask the boys to "give the class some of the facts that particularly impressed you" to which one of the boys provides this humorous analogy:
"I have read," said one of the boys, "that the crackling noises heard in a stove pipe when a fire is lighted are of the same nature as earthquakes, such sounds being caused by the unequal expansion of the different parts of the pipe." To which Mr. Johnson replies, "Yes, these might properly be called miniature earthquakes."The discussions that occur throughout the book are driven by the same events that continue to get students excited about geological phenomena - in this case the San Francisco and Lisbon earthquakes and the eruptions of Vesuvius and Krakatoa. We continue to be impressed by these historical and dramatic events and the media has only helped fuel modern interest in geohazards. We can only hope that the hyperbole surrounding 'the end of the world' mentality often associated with media descriptions help incite similar interests and questions in boys and girls alike to help spawn more future geologists. I'm clearly looking for the silver lining in an otherwise annoying representation of our science.
I have a number of other 'interesting' books I'll share in the future, if you don't want to go looking for a copy, there is a link at the beginning of the post to an online version you can peruse.