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Italy's geologic history becomes a personal tale in Walter Alvarez's new book
Date:12/22/2008

Francis," he said.

Alvarez also takes the opportunity to highlight the groundbreaking work of Italian geologists, often neglected in America in favor of English-speaking geologists. During his early career, Alvarez was one of the few Italian-speaking Americans working on the geology of Italy.

"I hope this book will serve geologists as an antidote to an Anglophone viewpoint that ignores many of our worthy scientific forebears from other countries," he wrote.

Even the casual observer can't help but be amazed by the unique geology of Italy.

"Italy has a highly varied landscape: old volcanoes around Rome and Naples; mountains made of limestone in the Apennines, and over near Pisa, a mountain made of pure white marble, the marble Michelangelo used for his statuary," Alvarez said. "And up in the Alps, there are great peaks of granite and metamorphic rocks and dolomite. Mountains made of sandstone and a huge volcano in Sicily at Etna. The island of Sardinia is largely made out of granite. There are other places that have an equal variety of geology, but I can't think of any that have more variety."

Starting with more recent geologic history - eruptions along a volcanic chain north of Rome over the past million years - Alvarez then takes readers back 100 million years to a time when much of Italy was an ocean floor, before it was pushed above sea level and crinkled into the rows of mountains known as the Apennines. The layered ocean-floor sediments are now visible as limestone and sandstone across the entire Apennines, folded and overthrown as the mountains were thrust up and then eroded to create a puzzle still being pieced together.

"The beautiful thing about these rocks in Italy was they were too deep to be affected by waves and storms, so they just had the most wonderful record of Earth history that you could imagine," he said.

Much of this geologic history is visible in Alvarez's favorite haunts - the quar
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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