Devil in the Mountain
The question of how high mountain ranges form on the face of the Earth is one that has intrigued the world's great thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks. Devil in the Mountain is the story of one scientist, author Simon Lamb, and his quest for the key to this great geological mystery. Lamb and a small team of geologists have spent much of the last decade exploring the majestic Bolivian Andes, the second highest mountain range on Earth--a region rocked by earthquakes and violent volcanic eruptions.The author's account is part travelogue, part detective story, describing how he and his colleagues pursue a trail of clues hidden in the landscape and rocks. In the course of their travels, they follow the tracks of the dinosaurs, which never saw the Andes, but left their mark on the shores of a vast inland sea that covered this part of South America more than sixty-five million years ago. They listen to the tales of local silver miners who strive to appease the spirit they call Tio--the devil in the mountain.Sprinkled throughout the gripping narrative are delightful insights into the life of a scientist (stories of traveling through Bolivia's back roads, starting trucks in subzero weather, and avoiding nasty characters during local riots). But the backdrop for all these adventures is the bigger story of the Earth and how geologists have gone about uncovering its secrets. (We learn how continental plates move, how landscapes are dated, and where volcanoes come from.) By the end of their journey, Lamb and his team turn up extraordinary evidence pointing to the fundamental instability of the surface of our planet.