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A Visual Guide

by Donna O'Meara

      With the recent increased activity at Kilauea volcano on the Big Island in Hawaii, Donna O'Meara and her husband Steve are busy doing what they love. They are observing and photographing active volcanoes. The O'Mearas' regard for fiery phenomenon is so intense they live at the top of this volcano.

Their interest, and, most particularly, Donna O'Meara's passion for these geological entities is showcased in a paperback version of her large coffee table hardcover, Volcano, released last year by UK publisher Cassell Illustrated. This new version, Volcano: A Visual Guide, is smaller, though still of significant size (about the dimensions of a sheet of paper) to show off these geological wonders, especially forty of the most spectacular ones on land, in the ocean, and in outer space. Firefly Books has included it in its Spring titles. Donna O'Meara presents familiar volcanoes, such as Mt. Vesuvius, Mt. Etna, Mt. Fuji, and Mt. St. Helens, as well as more obscure ones located in Iceland, Indonesia, and Antarctica. Not all of the volcanic features she presents in this book are cone shaped volcanoes. Many are crater lakes, ancient calderas, and spectacular views of magma flows, lava fountains, and unusual land forms created by molten rock.

Like the hardcover edition, each page is dominated by a single photo, with several double-page images. Accompanying each chapter is a short introduction about the topic, and each photo is carefully annotated with some historical information about the volcano represented or an explanation of a particular type of lava, type of volcano, or type of pyroclastic flow. These photo annotations are short but packed with information.

Most of the photographs of activity in Hawaii were shot by Donna and Stephen OíMeara. The other visual material was selected by Donna from a wealth of sources including other photographers, NASA photos, and high-definition satellite pictures. Many are rare and have never been published, except in these two volumes.

Though this book and its hardcover companion are for adults, O'Meara released a paperback in 2005 for children (9-12) called, Into the Volcano: A Volcano Researcher at Work. She details her work and the risks involved, which, ironically come from human sources (bandits and guerrillas) more than from volcanoes.

Volcano: A Visual Guide is a breathtaking look at these awe-inspiring geological phenomenon that keep reminding us that the earth is vibrant and ever-changing. Highly recommended.

The Book

Firefly Books
March 2008 (see note below)
Oversized paperback
1554073537 / 978-1554073535
Non-fiction, natural history
More at
NOTE: The Amazon link shows this book having a November 2007 release date. But per the publisher this is a March 2008 edition.

The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Janie Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!and co-author of The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book. Coming Soon: The Ultimate Wedding Workbook.
© 2008