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"Volcanoes: Global Perspectives" Published Just Weeks After Eruption in Iceland Reminds World of Their Power and Widespread Impacts

Prof. Hazlett (lower right), Pomona student Adam Curry (far left) and other members of the Makushin volcano field research trip at the Dutch Harbor anchorage, Unalaska Island, 2009.

Prof. Hazlett (lower right), Pomona student Adam Curry (far left) and other members of the Makushin volcano field research trip at the Dutch Harbor anchorage, Unalaska Island, 2009. (PHOTO AVAILABLE BY REQUEST)

Book cover of "Volcanoes: Global Perspectives"

Richard Hazlett, a professor of geology and environmental analysis at Pomona College, is the co-author, with John Lockwood, of Volcanoes: Global Perspectives, which was published by Wiley-Blackwell at the end of May, six weeks after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted, creating weeks of havoc for European air travelers.

According to The Volcanism Blog (July 2010), "This book has been decades in the making, and it was well worth the wait. Volcanoes: Global Perspectives is a great overview of volcanology, an excellent textbook and a very good read. Some books on volcanism have as their central focus what volcanoes are; this one is as interested in how they are experienced…. [The authors] waste no time in immersing the reader straightway in their own dramatic first-hand experiences of volcanic activity at a ‘grey’ or explosive volcano (Galunggung, 1982) and a ‘red’ or effusive volcano (Kilauea, 1974)…. From there follows a lively, informal but crystal-clear exposition of practically every aspect of volcanism and volcanology that a reader wishing to be well-informed, whether specialist or not, needs to know.” The book also includes a section covering the influence of volcanoes on human societies, including Santorini (1645-1625 BC), Vesuvius (79), Krakatua (1883) and Kilauea (2009).

Hazlett has been fascinated by the power of volcanoes since reading about Vesuvius and Pompeii as a child. He witnessed his first volcanic eruption years later as an undergraduate doing summer research in Hawaii. “I saw the ground rip open practically at my feet at the height of the eruption,” says Hazlett. “Talk about unforgettable!”

Since then, he visited dozens of volcanoes, doing field studies, often with students, on active volcanoes throughout Central America, in Hawaii, Japan, the Pacific Northwest, the Aleutian Islands and mainland Alaska, Italy, Kamchatka and Iceland.

Over the years, nature has provided Hazlett close-up demonstrations of awe-inspiring power. “I’ve had several exciting experiences, including the opening of new vents during Hawaiian eruptions, spending several nights camped in the wilderness next to active lava lakes, narrowly avoiding getting blasted by an explosion at a lava entry near the sea, and barely escaping with my life during a rockfall on one volcanic slope in Russia,” he says. “All included certain elements of danger; but I am no thrill seeker in that regard. These experiences usually left me shaking or questioning my wisdom afterwards. I am more drawn by the beauty and power of nature on unusual display--and that indeed meant accepting risk and unpredictable hazard.”

Pomona College, founded in 1887, is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty and a range of opportunities for student research.