Friday, March 07, 2008

Planet Earth Reading Challenge

Well, I figured I was overdue for a reading challenge and stumbled across this one which inspired me. In honor of UN International Year of Planet Earth Classical Bookworm created a challenge based on 4 spheres of earth science: the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. The charge is to read books from each domain or several geology books. For this challenge I have chosen the following:
Lithosphere (geology)—Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
Atmosphere—The Cloudspotter’s Guide: the Science, History, and Culture of Clouds, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
Hydrosphere—Hell and High Water by Joseph Romm

Three books—one major disaster (a volcanic eruption), a bit of weather (maybe I’ll remember details from the meteorology class I took some 30 years ago), and an even more major disaster (global warming). Should be fun reads.
I’m already 135 pages into Krakatoa. We’re kind of volcano fans in my family. My older son started collecting volcano facts when he was around 4, visited Mauna Loa and Kilauea shortly thereafter and watched every National Geographic video ever made about volcanoes at least 30 times. And they make for exciting viewing! We made our trip to Hawaii when younger son was around 4 months old so I missed some of the fun since long hikes across unshaded lava fields isn’t recommended for infants.
While he has since moved on, no one can deny that volcanoes are cool. I personally have a dim memory of watching that classic movie Krakatoa, East of Java (it turns out it is west of Java) as a kid. Actually, all I remember is the name of the movie itself. But I’m sure I saw it.

If any of the three books gets too boring I may yet switch to a different book. And since I have not yet picked a representative of the biosphere, I may be adding to the list. Thanks to Classical Bookworm for a great idea.

I’ve also decided to institute a quote a day on my blog. I’ll try to pull things from my daily reads but in a pinch might resort to a quotation site from the internet.

Today’s quote is from the Kilauea Daily Update, the eruption report from Kilauea:
“The TEB pahoehoe flow entered the ocean about 11:30 pm March 5. Seismic tremor levels and sulfur dioxide emission rates continued elevated to several times background levels at Kilauea summit.”

Pahoehoe is one of my favorite volcano words. It is a Hawaiian word referring to smooth lava flows (as opposed to jagged, sharp flows—known as a’a’). The mnemonic I learned for remembering a’a’ is that it is the sound that one makes when stepping barefoot on a dried a’a’ flow. As Greenlanders have many words for snow, Hawaiians evolved a vocabulary of lava. For more on volcanoes, and a photo glossary of volcano words go to the USGS web site: or read Krakatoa.


Crafty Green Poet said...

I'm currently reading The Earth - an intimate history by Richard Fortey, a very interesting thick book about earth science, especially plate tectonics. I've also read several books recently that spent some time in Hawaii.

Sylvia said...

Hi Sarala, how goes the reading challenge? You might like to know that Classical Bookworm has moved, so the Planet Earth Reading Challenge post is now located at:

Thanks, and rock on! ;)