PD Dr. Ulrich Knittel:
von John Savino und Marie D. Jones
New Page Books
Euro 12,99 bei Amazon.de
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Supervolcanoes have moved into the focus of public interest since the movie 'supervolcano' was shown. The idea that a volcanic monster slumbers beneath the scenic Yellowstone Park has inspired numerous documentaries and clips.
The book starts with a more general introduction into volcanology and presents the basic facts about volcanoes and their impact on the world's climate and humanity in general. It become clear that even the biggest eruptions that occurred in the past few thousand years are negligible compared to supervolcano eruptions.
The second part of the book deals with the eruption of the Toba Caldera (Sumatra, Indonesia) that occurred about 74.000 years ago. The authors argue that this eruption brought humanity onto the brink of extinction. Indeed, geneticists ague that about that time, humanity was reduced to a few thousand, or maybe even a few hundred survivors (since all humans are direct descendants of these survivors, the genetic diversity of mankind is surprisingly small). Whether or not this event left an imprint in the genetic make-up of humans, as agued by the authors, remains a matter of debate.
The third part of the book investigates the consequences of a supervolcano eruption in the present time. Here, Long Valley Caldera serves as an example rather than the usually invoked Yellowstone Caldera. It becomes evident that the consequences would be a disaster of unprecedented magnitude.
The author of this review was sceptical about the quality of this book, when he found out, that New Page Books publishes largely esoteric or New Age books. And he was delighted to find out that at least the presentation of the volcanological facts (parts I and III and in part also part II) is correct and up-to-date. To what extent the presentation of genetic arguments is correct, I cannot judge, however they are presented in a clear way. Whether or not that event left a hallmark in the genetic make-up of humanity certainly remains an open question and that is also clearly admitted by the authors.
The book is well written and easily understandable - even to the layman. The figures are all in black and white, which in part is regrettable, but on the other hand allows a rather low price. It is a good source for information on supervolcanoes and presents some interesting aspects of the early history of mankind.
Dr. Ulrich Knittel