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Volcanoes have fascinated—and terrified—people for ages. They have destroyed cities and ended civilizations. John Dvorak, the critically acclaimed author of Earthquake Storms looks in to the early years of volcanology and its "father," Thomas Jaggar. Jaggar was the youngest of five scientists to investigate the explosion of Mount Pelee in Martinique, which leveled the entire city of St. Pierre and killed its entire population in two minutes. This explosion changed science forever, and Jaggar became obsessed with understand the force of nature that could do this. A colorful casts of scientists wind their way through this story, but the focus is on Jaggar, who was so obsessed by volcanology, that he moved to a small house overlooking the lava lake of Kilauea. With a widowed schoolteacher who shared his passion, the two devoted their lives to studying volcanic activity. From this precarious perch, they would discover a way to predict volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, promote geothermal energy, and theorize new ways to study the ocean bottom.
Dr. John Dvorak, PhD, worked on volcanoes and earthquakes for the U.S. Geological Survey, first at Mount St. Helens, then as a series of assignments in California, Hawaii, Italy, Indonesia, Central America and Alaska. He has written cover stories for Scientific American, Physics Today and Astronomy magazines, as well as a series of essays about earthquakes and volcanoes for American Scientist. Dvorak has taught at the University of Hawaii and lectured at UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis, the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, among others