After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens

Eric Wagner. Univ. of Washington, $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-295-74693-7
This revealing work by Wagner (Penguins in the Desert), who has a PhD in biology, takes a wide-ranging look at the ecological effects of the 1980 Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption. Wagner begins with the eruption’s various stages, from the enormous landslide triggered, to the mudflows or “lahars,” to the 15 mile-high column of ash sent into the sky. He then describes how U.S. Forest Service ecologists Jerry Franklin and Jim Sedell and USFS geologist Fred Swanson, arriving at the site weeks later, were surprised to discover shoots of fireweed already poking through the ash, indicating the return of life after the explosion. Wagner then profiles individual researchers who tracked the recovery of different plant and animal populations on the mountain. Some, like research ecologist Charlie Crisafulli, devoted much of their careers to the research, in his case involving pocket gophers, while others, such as biologist Evelyn Merrill, focused on the mountain’s elk herd, only spent a few years there. Observing each scientist as they conduct their work, Wagner captures their personalities in quick but memorable sketches, summing up Swanson as a storyteller and Crisafulli as, in Swanson’s words, “the data monster.” This is a superb look at scientists and science at work. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/13/2020
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 248 pages - 978-0-295-74694-4
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