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The Mountains of Saint Francis : Discovering the Geologic Events that Shaped our Earth

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Walter Alvarez and his team made one of the most astonishing scientific discoveries of the twentieth century-that an asteroid smashed into the Earth 65 million years ago, exterminating the dinosaurs. Alvarez had the first glimmer of that amazing insight when he noticed something odd in a rock outcrop in central Italy. Alvarez now returns to that rich terrain, this time to ...more
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published (first published August 25th 2007)
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Jan 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geoscience
Not quite the page turner that T. Rex is, but a good read. It reads exactly the way Walter talks.
Lorraine Tosiello
Like the excruciatingly slow geologic changes that this book explains, I worked my way through this book, seemingly a millimeter at a time, slowly, laboriously. But, like the changing crust of the earth, it revealed a number of surprises, rewarding me in the end with a new outlook on the world in general and a beloved spot on earth, the Apennine mountains of Italy.

The author is a renowned scholar and teacher and the books reads as a geological text book for laymen. It is filled with maps, graphs
Dave Ciskowski
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: donated-lost
A relaxed, conversational tale of the geology that formed Italy, told by a geologist who helped uncover parts of the story. Alvarez tells the stories with an (auto)biograpical bent, focused both on how he first experienced Italian geology and how its stories were teased out by geologists over centuries, understanding one piece of the puzzle at a time. Alvarez makes the stories personal and relatable, which grounds the immense forces and unimaginable time in very human experience. I do have some ...more
Vagabond Geologist
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought this was a nice book. I’m a geologist and i thoroughly enjoy books that express the joy geologists get from understanding the earth. That said, I thought it was simplified a bit much. As an example, I’m often asked how we know such-and-such a rock is a certain age. Alvarez does a nice job of explaining how fossils are used to obtain relative ages but not how absolute ages were determined. Ages were known far before the advent of age dating. That said, if you are interested in geology, ...more
John Sheehan
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Walter and his father, Nobel laureate, Luis are national treasures. Hence it is difficult not to be effusive about this book. The charm and fluidity of Dr.Alvarez's writing is a real gift. He's a great storyteller who manages to present some fairly complicated ideas and observations in a way that entices even the most geologically uninclined will find inviting. Thanks, Dr. Alvarez for a story well told.
Eugienne Ryl
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
very interesting
Feb 25, 2020 added it
Fascinating - great to have this on my bedside table as I unwind at night.
He is an excellent informative writer. Deep Time, Geologists of the Past, and unravelling the mysteries of how Italy was formed.
I appreciate the way he clearly discusses the research, then the findings, and the new research.
Walter Alverez is the geologist who, with his father a Nobel prize winning physicist, came up with the idea that the dinosaurs died off due to a large meteorite strike. Here he mainly discusses another topic from his field work in Italy, the origins of the Apennine mountains that run down the spine of the Italian boot Alverez says requires ideas in addition to the standard plate tectonics. He also reviews some of his findings regarding the dinosaurs, in particular his his findingiof the rare ele ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: engineering
I've always been interested in books about Italy. I've read and seen works about Italy but have not visit the country. I suppose I'm researching for the right time to be there and understand the place through others eyes. The writing is sometimes poetic.

Notes: A rock composed of fragments of ash cemented together is called tuff. Rome is sitting on Ash flow tuff. So Rome is a volcanic region but there are no major evidence of an exploded volcano like St. Helen in Oregon. So there was a bit of res
Jan 22, 2010 rated it liked it
A good book, if you're interested in geology. It concentrates on Alvarez' work in Italy since the early 70's, which was an important factor in understanding plate tectonics and the Great Extinction of species 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous age. The extinction is generally believed to be a result of a large meteor or comet impact in the Yucatan peninsula. It probably gets deeper into geology than would interest the general reader.
Sarah Jowett
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dads_books
I found this book in my dad's stuff after he died in January. I have been reading quite alot of the books he had but this one i kept also because it's inscribed by the author to my dad for his birthday in 2009.

I dont know how they met but he lived in berkeley so anything is possible.

Its very well done. I had my doubts about the method of telling the earths story (backwards) but it works and i enjoyed the book alot.
Nicolás Rivas
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
An amazing book. Very cleverly organized and nicely paced, as it goes without harm between the human and the natural; the present and the deep past. The explanations of the geology are deep enough to intrigue and inspire, something uncommon in science books, in general. After reading it I feel the urge to learn more about earth sciences, if just to be able to see more in every landscape: that is definitely an outstanding accomplishment.
Apr 30, 2016 added it
This was an excellent popular science book. Dr. Alvarez used his research in Italy both to illustrate fundamental concept in Geology and to explain the origin of the Alps and the Apennines. He used maps, photos, figures, and a clear narrative in such a way that the reader felt s/he was reading a mystery story. I plan to read more by the author.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, history
Excellent narration on geological concepts tied in with the history of the Apennines. The author not only excels in describing the science, but also helps provide insights into the scientific process that geologists go through. He explains how, when and what made the geologist make a break through all tied in with the description of Italy.
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
See Italy through a geologist's eye. Berkeley professor and Italian geologist friends uncover earth history in Rome's Capitoline Hill, volcanoes outside Rome and Appenine Mountains. Scientific explanations get technical sometimes, but a pleasurable excursion overall.
Jim Dexter
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Italian-centric geologic view of how Europe was formed over deep time.
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Walter Álvarez is a professor of geology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of the best-selling T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and a past recipient of the Penrose Medal, the highest award given by the Geological Society of America. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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