What are we to make of contemporary newspapers in Japan speculating about the possible connection between aquatic creatures and earthquakes? Of a city council deciding to issue evacuation advice based on observed animal behavior? Why, between 1977 and 1993, did Japan’s government spend taxpayer money to observe catfish in aquariums as part of its mandate to fund earthquake prediction research? All of these actions are direct legacies of the 1855 Ansei Edo earthquake, one of the major natural disasters of the period. In Seismic Japan:The Long History and Continuing Legacy of the Ansei Edo Earthquake, Gregory Smits investigates the science, politics, and lore of seismic events in Japan as he examines this earthquake in a broad historical context.
The Ansei Edo earthquake shook the shogun’s capital during a year of special religious significance and at a time of particularly vigorous seismic activity. It was also a turning point because, according to the prevailing understanding of earthquakes at the time, it should never have happened. Many Japanese, therefore, became receptive to new ideas about the causes of earthquakes as well as to the notion that by observing some phenomena—for example, the behavior of catfish—one might determine when an earthquake would strike.
December 2013 | 256 pages, 5 illus. | ISBN: 978-0-8248-3817-1 | Cloth $54.00
While researching his latest book, Hawai‘i’s Mauna Loa Observatory: Fifty Years of Monitoring the Atmosphere, Forrest Mims spent hours searching for a small, unmarked beach near Hilo Bay. It was here in December 1840 that the U.S. Exploring Expedition began its long and difficult journey to the summit of Mauna Loa to make the first scientific measurements from atop the volcano. Read about the expedition in Mims’ weekly science column in the San Antonio Express-News: http://www.mysanantonio.com/life/article/Expedition-collected-data-on-Hawaiian-volcano-2517912.php.
For other interesting history tidbits from Mims’ book, check out this post from Raising Islands, written by veteran Hawai‘i science journalist Jan TenBruggencate: http://raisingislands.blogspot.com/2012/01/mauna-kea-in-kamehamehas-time-it-was.html.
Dr. Charles (Chip) Fletcher will be among the “environmental heroes” recognized today at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 12th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles. Fletcher, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawai‘i, is a co-author of Living on the Shores of Hawaii: Natural Hazards, the Environment, and Our Communities, published this month by UH Press. The EPA is honoring Fletcher for his work in climate change science with UH’s Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy.” Read the Honolulu Star-Advertiser article here.
Photo: Windward Community College, University of Hawai‘i
Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific by Patrick D. Nunn, was featured in “The Best of the Best from the University Presses: Books You Should Know About” program, held at the 2009 American Library Association Annual Conference this month. “Best of the Best” titles are chosen by a panel of public and secondary school librarians as having “exceptional editorial content and subject matter” and are considered “essential to most library collections.”
Islands—as well as entire continents—are reputed to have disappeared in many parts of the world. Yet there is little information on this subject concerning its largest ocean, the Pacific. Over the years, geologists have amassed data that point to the undeniable fact of islands having disappeared in the Pacific, a phenomenon that the oral traditions of many groups of Pacific Islanders also highlight. There are even a few instances where fragments of Pacific continents have disappeared, becoming hidden from view rather than being submerged. In Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific, a scientifically rigorous yet readily comprehensible account of a fascinating subject, Patrick D. Nunn ranges far and wide, from explanations of the region’s ancient history to the meanings of island myths. Using both original and up-to-date information, he shows that there is real value in bringing together myths and the geological understanding of land movements.
October 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3219-3 / $50.00 (CLOTH)