Book Details

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    • May 2007
    • 9780231125796
  • 378 Pages
  • 97 Illustrations

  • Paperback
  • $32.95
  • / £22.95


    • June 2004
    • 9780231125789
  • 378 Pages
  • 97 Illustrations

  • Hardcover
  • $95.00
  • / £65.50


    • June 2004
    • 9780231500876
  • 378 Pages
  • 97 Illustrations

  • E-book
  • $31.99
  • / £22.00

The Earth Machine

The Science of a Dynamic Planet

Edmond A. Mathez and James D. Webster

From the scorching center of Earth's core to the outer limits of its atmosphere, from the gradual process of erosion that carved the Grand Canyon to the earth-shaking fury of volcanoes and earthquakes, this fascinating book--inspired by the award-winning Hall of Planet Earth at New York City's American Museum of Natural History--tells the story of the evolution of our planet and of the science that makes it work. With the same exuberance and expertise they brought to the creation of the Hall of Planet Earth, co-curators Edmond A. Mathez and James D. Webster offer a guided tour of Earth's dynamic, 4.6-billion-year history.

Including numerous full-color photographs of the innovative exhibit and helpful, easy-to-understand illustrations, the authors explore the major factors in our planet's evolution: how Earth emerged from the swirling dusts of a nascent solar system; how an oxygen-rich, life-sustaining atmosphere developed; how continents, mountain ranges, and oceans formed; and how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions alter Earth's surface. Traversing geologic time and delving into the depths of the planet---beginning with meteorites containing minuscule particles that are the solar system's oldest known objects, and concluding with the unusual microbial life that lives on the chemical and thermal energy produced by sulfide vents in the ocean floor-- The Earth Machine provides an up-to-date overview of the central theories and discoveries in earth science today. By incorporating stories of real-life fieldwork, Mathez and Webster explain how Earth is capable of supporting life, how even the smallest rocks can hold the key to explaining the formation of mountains, and how scientists have learned to read nature's subtle clues and interpret Earth's ever-evolving narrative.

About the Author

Edmond A. Mathez is curator of petrology in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History and was chief curator of the Hall of Planet Earth. He edited Earth: Inside and Out and The Encyclopedia of Gemstones and Minerals.

James D. Webster is curator of mineral deposits in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History and was associate curator of the Hall of Planet Earth.

This companion volume to the American Museum of Natural History's award-winning Hall of Planet Earth exhibit by Mathez and Webster, the original co-curators, offers readers an accessible guided tour of how our planet works from interdisciplinary and scientific perspectives.

A handsome and well-written book, in full colour and jammed full of geological information about the earth.... I commend the authors for the thoroughness, accuracy and detail they give to so many parts of the Earth Sciences.New Scientist

Simon Lamb

This book is your engaging and scientific tour guide.

This informative book... explores the major forces and factors that shaped and continue to shape our planet.

A highly recommended text for any who would wonder what climates were like in past times.

This outstanding among the many fine books on the subject available today...A book of unusually widespread appeal. Highly recommended.

T. L. T. Gross

By means of well-chosen examples taken from nature as we find it, they provide the best of contemporary approaches to, and conclusions about, the major issues.

A thorough and yet easy-to-understand account of the origins of Earth... The authors definitely know their stuff... But true to their vocations as educators, as well as scientists, they do more than just educate in this volume; they also thoroughly entertain.

Beth Norton

PrefacePart I. How Has Earth Evolved? 1. The Birth of Planet EarthFrom Meteorites to EarthThe Formation of the MoonEarly Earth Organizes ItselfThe Emergence of an Atmosphere and an Ocean2. Learning the Age of EarthThe Seeds of DoubtThe Emergence of the Revolutionary Concept of an Old EarthRadioactivity and the Age of Earth3. The Evolution of the ContinentsEarth: The Only Planet with a Continental CrustThe Continents and Continental CrustThe First Continental CrustThe Assembly of the Continents4. Life and Conditions on Early EarthAncient MicrobesBanded Iron Formations and Oxygenation of the Atmosphere and OceanA Warm Early Earth?The Appearance of Animals and Explosion of Life in the Cambrian5. Reading Rocks: The Story of the Grand CanyonHow Sedimentary Rocks Describe Ancient EnvironmentsEvidence of Missing RockHow Old Is the Grand Canyon?Part II. Why Are There Ocean Basins, Continents, and Mountains? 6. Internal EarthThe CoreThe Magnetic FieldConvection in the Core and Origin of the Geomagnetic FieldEarth's Internal HeatThe MantleConvection in the Mantle7. Plate TectonicsContinental Drift: An Idea Proposed Before Its TimeWegener's Theory of Continental DriftFrom Continental Drift to Plate TectonicsPlate Boundaries: Where the Action IsPlate Motions and Continental Reconstruction8. Lavas from the Depths of EarthHawaiiKilauea VolcanoVolcanoes of the Mid-Ocean RidgesGreat Lava Floods and the Columbia River Basalts9. Great Explosive VolcanoesThe Nature of Explosive VolcanismHow Gases Drive Explosive EruptionsVesuvius: The Anatomy of an Explosive EruptionTambora: Volcanoes and Climate ChangeKrakatau: An Explosion that Reverberated Around the WorldGreat Prehistoric EruptionsGranite10. EarthquakesWhy Do Earthquakes Occur?How Earthquakes Are MeasuredHow Earthquakes DestroyFault Behavior and Calculating the OddsShort-term PredictionsThe San Andreas Fault Zone, CaliforniaThe Great Alaska Earthquake11. MountainsThe Shape of Earth and Why Mountains Are HighThe Importance of ErosionThe Folding of RocksThe Metamorphism of Rocks12. The AlpsThe Beginnings of Alpine ResearchThe Formation and Structure of the AlpsPart III. What Causes Earth's Climate and Climate Change? 13. The AtmosphereThe Structure of the AtmosphereGlobal Atmospheric CirculationGreenhouse Earth: The Troposphere StoryOzone: The Stratosphere StoryThe Importance of Clouds14. The World OceanThe Important Properties of WaterWhy Is the Ocean Salty?The Global Ocean Conveyor SystemOcean Surface CurrentsUpwelling and DownwellingEl Nio and La Nia15. The Geological Record of Climate ChangeClimate Forcing FactorsThe Climate Record in Greenland IceSome Other Indicators of Past ClimateThe Ice AgePart IV. Why Is Earth Habitable? 16. Conditions for LifeWater: The Essential IngredientThe Carbon CycleEarth, Venus, and MarsEarth's Intangible Shields17. Black Smokers from the DeepHow Hydrothermal Vent Fields FormLife at Hydrothermal VentsDid Life Originate in Deep-Sea Vents?Heat and Water: What Goes In, and What Goes Out18. Some Natural Resources and How They FormWhat Salt, Gold, and Coal Have in CommonOre Deposits from Hot WaterAn Ancient Analogue of the Black SmokersOre Deposits from MagmasNotesGlossaryBibliographyIndex