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No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado Del Ruiz

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  38 reviews
In 1985 in Columbia, more than 23,000 people died due to the government's failure to take seriously scientists' warnings about an imminent volcanic eruption at Nevado del Ruiz. In 1993, at Volcán Galeras, the death toll was smaller but no less tragic: despite seismic data that foretold possible disaster, an expedition of international scientists proceeded into the volcano. ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 19th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 2001)
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Start your review of No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado Del Ruiz
Diane in Australia
Very good book! Not for the faint-hearted. It details two volcanic eruptions in Colombia, Nevado Del Ruiz in 1985, and Galeras in 1993. The author relates the scientific info in an easy to understand manner. I have always been fascinated by volcanos, and this book was right up my alley.

By the end of the book, I had a very intense dislike for Stanley Williams, the leader of the expedition on Galeras. Unfortunately, he was the one who got all the media attention (primarily in the USA) after the
...more
Eric_W
Bruce recounts the history, both geologic and historic, of the active volcanic range in Colombia. It's quite a story.

The Nevado del Ruiz eruption, when it came was horrifying. It wasn't one of those blow-the-tops off like Mt. St. Helens, rather an insidious flow of lava that melted several glaciers which then overran rivers and created a mudslide close to one-hundred feet high and traveled at about fifty miles per hour. It literally obliterated the town of Armero and killed more than 23,000
...more
Rebecca Huston
This was quite a read. Despite the length -- just over 200 pages -- this chronicle of the disastrous eruptions of two volcanoes in Colombia in the 1980's and 1990's is very well written and understandable for the lay person. Yes, there is some science in this one, but it is presented smoothly enough that it doesn't bog down the story. What is heartrending are the attitudes among scientists and politicians and sadly, the ordinary people who would pay the price for their arrogance. Geology nerds ...more
Dee Eisel
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Oh, my word. This book is not for the faint of heart. The author does not mince words when it comes to describing the injuries volcanic hazards can cause. Nor does she softball the anger of the people who survived the (minor!) eruption of Galeras in 1993 while nine of their friends and colleagues died.

The story centers on the Columbian geologists, especially Dr. Marta Calvache. It traces her involvement with various departments and companies in Columbia and then the tragedy of Nevada Del Ruiz
...more
Eric B. Kennedy
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: disasters
"No Apparent Danger" by Victoria Bruce is a double edged sword: it's excellent and questionable for the exact same reasons. On one hand, it's a compelling story of a volcano expedition gone wrong. On the other, it's a simplistic account of a complex event - one that creates a hero/villain binary that tells a much more superficial story than reality.

In No Apparent Danger, Bruce tells the story of the 1993 explosion on Galeras in Columbia. On a fateful January day, nine people - including both
...more
Daniel Morgan
Wow, an incredible book that combines history, earth science, and the human narratives of local people, scientists, politicians, survivors. This was a gripping read from beginning to end, and it was both fascinating and horrifying to watch new discoveries in volcanology unfold through these two eruptions. Also by the end of this book, you will hate a man named Stanley Williams.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
A gripping read. Kept me right on the edge of my seat. Tells a different story from that offered by the documentary!
Elizabeth Naranjo
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An unflinching, often gruesome account of the tragedies at Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 and Galeras in 1993. Both volcanic disaster stories will have you clenching your fists in fury at the negligence and arrogance that led to so much loss of life, but there are plenty of heroes to be found here too.
Geoff Habiger
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-geology
In 1993 a horrible disaster struck the geology community. On January 14 of that year, 13 volcanologists were on a workshop fieldtrip inside the caldera of Galeras, a volcano in southern Columbia, when it erupted killing 6 of the scientists and 3 local tourists. This tragic event shocked and stunned the geological community. But it was preceded by an ever more disastrous eruption that occurred 8 years earlier at Nevado Del Ruiz. Victory Bruce's book takes a critical look at these two volcanic ...more
Julie Baumeister
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Victoria Bruce pieces together eye-witness accounts of two tragic volcano disasters in Colombia. First are the accounts of the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 in which mudflows killed over 23,000 people in the surrounding area. The second part of this book details the 1993 eruption of Volcán Galeras which took the lives of nine people (including six scientists) who were in the crater at the time.

Whether or not you’re a geologist (I'm a geologist though, so maybe I'm biased), I think you’ll
...more
Jaci
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not Just Another Disaster Story

The knowledge imparted by this book is widespread, covering information on subjects from South American geology to the current political woes in Columbia. It introduces you to leading scientists in volcanology, geology, and other related fields of study. However, this book is not a dry textbook. The knowledge is interspersed with the lives and concerns of the scientists in the forefront of the story.

Told in a steady, forthright manner, the book presents the events
...more
Susan
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I had vague memories of hearing about the scientists killed in a volcanic eruption but didn't remember any of the details. This book tells the stories of the Nevado del Ruiz eruption which caused a mudslide that buried a small town in Colombia and the Galeras eruption in 1993 in which 6 scientists lost their lives.

Victoria Bruce, the author, is a geologist and does an excellent job of giving the reader a grounding in vulcanology. She explains the different sorts of volcanoes and how plate
...more
Joy D
Setting the record straight

This book provides a behind-the-scenes account of two Columbian volcanic eruptions. It is a stark reminder about the dangers in complacency. Unfortunately, much of the information communicated in the US news media about Galeras was based on one person's slanted perspective. The author has done a service in setting the record straight. The author manages the scientific material well, portraying it in easy-to-understand language. I learned a lot about the science of
...more
Irene Young
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

I loved reading this book and couldn,t put it down.I have always had an interest in the subject of volcanology and geology and I felt I was in the crater of Galerus with the scientists so gripping was the tale.
As for Stanley Williams,what a shame he tried to take all the long period event study that belonged to Bernard Chouet.A tale of hubris resulting in the deaths of many people
A wonderful book by Victoria Bruce.if you are interested in the subject,or not,you will find this a
...more
Bryanna Plog
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent book about human's interactions with volcanoes. The stories are well researched and I appreciated Bruce's background as a geologist and journalist. This book is well written and tells two compelling stories of the 1985 eruption of Nevado de Ruiz and the 1993 eruption of Galeras, both in Colombia. Recommended to anyone who like good narrative nonfiction, stories of natural distastes, or is curious about how a scientific community fits in to our greater world.
Rebecca Thatcher-Murcia
I've always heard about the disaster at Armero, when the Nevado del Ruiz volcano buried a town of 20,000 people. I was surprised to find such an excellent book about the disaster and the ensuing explosion at Galeras in Pastro. Bruce has written a great book about volcanoes, but it's also a great book about Colombia.
Mary Swilling
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truth wins!!

A great story of adventure, scientific expedition, and tragedy in the study of of Colombia's Galeras and Nevado Del Ruiz volcanos. Victoria Bruce has done the science academy, history, and human honor and integrity a great service in writing this book!
Jhawn
In-depth about a couple of volcanoes. Very interesting. Amazingly detailed about the damage a volcano can do. Covers the state of eruption science at the time, and how the community and government can respond.
Boris
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting look at the world of volcanology involving two late 20th century eruptions in Columbia, Nevado del Ruiz and Legeras.

I was surprised to learn that the 1985 Nevado eruption was the second highest death toll for a volcanic eruption in the 20th century after Mt Pelee on Martinique in 1902. One of the faults of the book is it does not say what the prior eruption was or give much background on volcanoes in general. A passing reference was made to the two French volcanologists who
...more
Merythapy
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beverly
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
In 1985 in Columbia, more than 23,000 people died due to the government's failure to take seriously scientists' warnings about an imminent volcanic eruption at Nevado del Ruiz. In 1993, at Volcán Galeras, the death toll was smaller but no less tragic: despite seismic data that foretold possible disaster, an expedition of international scientists proceeded into the volcano. Two hours later, nine people were dead. Interesting but not compelling.
Ford
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The think I remember most about the book is you can't trust TV interviews. One of the scientists went on TV and told big time lies. Because it made "good" TV and network was so eager to be first to cover his story it was never checked out. When the network was informed of the truth, no correction was every made. Once again Fake News. You can't trust anything that you see on TV or hear on the radio.
Carlton Phelps
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning book.

I don't know a lot about volcanoes but this book is a real eye opener.
It is also a story about lives lost because one person convinced his team it was safe to go into the volcano. Then to make matters worse he began to tell the story of the eruption as though there were no warnings and he alone came out a live.
A sad story of human life lost.
Aaron Curtis
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply the best book about volcanoes. Unfortunately I don't have time to write any more right now.
Amy
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was completely fascinating! It's only about 200 pages and I loved every minute of it. At parts of it, I think the author forgot that the average reader wasn't a member of the geologist/volcanologist/chemist/seismologist community. It got a wee bit technical when it talked about the throat, cone, crater etc. areas of a volcano. I needed a drawing of the different volcano's just to get a visual (none is provided of course, but it would have been TOTALLY helpful). But overall the text is ...more
Felicity
This is three different stories, interwoven because that's how the world is; the mismanaged volcanic crisis at Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz in 1985, the totally avoidable deaths (largely of scientists) at the Colombian volcano Galeras in 1993, and finally the fallout in the scientific community. While the stories are fascinating and sad in their own right, prepare to be very, very angry; first at the bickering, political maneuvering and poverty that cost lives; and secondly, at the face-saving, ...more
J.C.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A book that attempts to set the record straight with regards to the tragic events that occurred on the volcano Galeras (Columbia) in 1993. The book attempts to refute the story told by vulcanologist Stanley Williams in his book Surviving Galeras in which he claims that there was no advanced warning that the volcano was going to erupt on the day of the expedition to its crater and that there was no way to prevent the deaths of six scientists.

The narrative is decent, but not amazing and I feel
...more
Gary Braham
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is a narrative of the Nevado Del Ruiz eruption, and the eruption at Galeras, both in Columbia.

The study of both these eruptions is a fascinating look at what volcanology is really like, and the scienctific, as well as political and personal decisions and traits that go into studying a volcano and trying to protect the public (and volcanologists) from harm when a volcano becomes active.
Spin2Knit
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written account

This well written account of tragic events is a worthy read. It exposes how the incompetence of a few, be it governmental or individual, can snuff the lives of people. Governmental screw ups resulted in 23000+ deaths. The actions of one egocentric man resulted in the deaths of 9 of fellow scientists. Hopefully this book will help place credit for scientific advances in volcanology where it belongs, with those who worked and discovered.
Stacy
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sad and fascinating tale

Wow. I took several geology classes in college, and we studied this case--the volcano that just randomly erupted, killing nine people. Turns out, it wasn't so random after all. There is, sadly, a long history of scientists not communicating well across national and language lines. This book does an excellent job of telling of one of the tragedies that resulted from that failure to communicate.
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“The Canadian graduate student was now hysterical.” 0 likes
“Gil and Salazar hadn’t realized that the last seismometer they’d checked earlier in the afternoon on November 13 had left—in a language neither understood—a very clear message. Nevado del Ruiz had already erupted.” 0 likes
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