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A DECADE OF ERUPTIONS CHRONICLED IN VOLCANO BOOK

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Grimsvotn and Stromboli, Mount St. Helens and Karkar, Etna and Nevada del Ruiz. The names conjure up drama and disaster, a decade of human suffering and scientific inquiry into the Earth's volcanoes.

Around the world, the erupting mountains that help emphasize the unsettled nature of the planet become the subject of intense curiosity when they initiate tragedy. Then they fade from center stage, of interest only to scientists, relief workers and local residents.Some of the researchers who chronicle and study these events have now collected a decade's worth of records, major ones of great impact and smaller eruptions notable for little beyond their continuing threat.

"Global Volcanism 1975-1985" is largely a scientific treatise, yet within its 672 pages of text, charts and maps are detailed some of the most dramatic events of a decade.

"An explosive eruption on 13 Nov melted ice and snow in the summit area, generating lahars that flowed tens of kilometers down flank river valleys, killing more than 22,000 people," begins the report on Nevada del Ruiz, the Colombia volcano that became the fourth deadliest volcano in history.

Lahars, the geological term for massive mudflows generated by volcanoes, came crashing down 11 narrow valleys into villages, sweeping away or burying the thousands who made their homes and lives there in November of 1985.

Published by the Smithsonian Institution, the new volume compiles reports from the first 10 years of that center's Scientific Event Alert Network. The network is a collection of thousands of scientists around the world who study volcanoes, earthquakes, meteors and other such events and share their findings with one another.

With scientific thoroughness, for example, they reported not only that Nevada del Ruiz ranked fourth in volcano death tolls, they listed the three events that were even worse: Tambora, 1815, 92,000 killed; Krakatau, 1883, 36,000 dead; Mt. Pelee, 1902, 28,000 fatalities.

In addition to Nevada del Ruiz, the volume reports in detail on Mount St. Helens in Washington, which is better known to Americans.

Its May 1980 explosion claimed more than 50 lives, cost billions of dollars in damage and cleanup and coated large parts of several states with thick, gritty dust for days afterward. The mountain remains active.

The volume notes earthquake activity at three other Cascade or Sierra Nevada volcanoes during the period: Mount Hood, Ore.; Mount Shasta, Calif., and Long Valley Caldera, Calif.

Among the more than 200 volcanoes reported in the volume are:

-Stromboli, near Sicily, which began a new effusive phase in November 1975, continuing a history of more than 2,000 years of almost constant activity.

-Etna, the volcano with the longest documented record in the world, extending back to 1500 B.C. This Sicilian volcano continued its tradition with several eruptions during the decade.