"Spesso è avvenuto che siano state viste delle fiamme spostarsi sulla superficie del mare che bagna queste isole, quando qualche passaggio delle cavità sotterranee si è aperto e il fuoco ne viene sospinto fuori. Posidonio racconta che al suo tempo un giorno si vide, all'epoca del solstizio d'estate, all'ora in cui si vede il sole, il mare tra Hiera e Euonymus sollevarsi ad un'altezza straordinaria, rimanere per un tempo considerevole così gonfiato nell'aria, poi ripiombare giù. Alcuni, che navigando avevano osato spingersi lì vicino, vedendo pesci morti trascinati dalla corrente, fuggirono, colpiti dal caldo e dal puzzo. Una delle imbarcazioni che si era avvicinata di più al luogo del fenomeno, aveva perso una parte del suo equipaggio e gli altri a malapena si erano salvati raggiungendo Lipari: essi a momenti cadevano come epilettici in crisi di follia, a momenti rientravano nelle proprie facoltà di raziocinio".
Strabone, Geografia Libro VI, cap.2, sez.11
(Eruzioni sottomarine presso Panarea)
This book is the first peer-reviewed collection of papers focusing on the potential of myth storylines to yield data and lessons that are of value to the geological sciences. Building on the nascent discipline of geomythology, scientists and scholars from a variety of disciplines have contributed to this volume. The geological hazards (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and cosmic impacts) that have given rise to myths are considered, as are the sacred and cultural values associated with rocks, fossils, geological formations and landscapes. There are also discussions about the historical and literary perspectives of geomythology. Regional coverage includes Europe and the Mediterranean, Afghanistan, Cameroon, India, Australia, Japan, Pacific islands, South America and North America. Myth and Geology challenges the widespread notion that myths are fictitious or otherwise lacking in value for the physical sciences.
Click on the image to see the index
Why I got interested in Geomythology
On January 2004 I published an article on the Newton magazine. The article titled “Il lago esplosivo” “Exploding lake” was an interview to Prof. Gregory Ryskin, a chemical engineer, on his theory of methane-driven oceanic eruptions as a cause of mass extinctions. The dynamic of such an explosion would be similar to that occurred at a smaller scale, like the one occurred in lake Nyos. According to him the phenomenon could have biblical connection. “When eruption occurs, I expect fountains of the gas-water mixture to rise from the ocean. And the description in the Genesis chapter 7 fits this exactly. So that’s a rather amazing fact, which suggests to me that this may be a reflection of some very old actual observation perhaps seven or eight thousand years ago when the Black Sea may have erupted”. Ryskin, an engineer, repeated to me not to blame myths and religion and since I have a literary background, I was really flattered by his words. So, when I found out that in the framework of the International Geological Congress an entire section was devoted to myth and geology I decided to participate exploring the possibility to use this argument to educate people to a renewed attitude towards the Earth and the environment. In that occasion I realized that several scientists from all over the world are interested in myths for scientific purposes and that their attitude towards myths is respectful. For an overview of the role of myth in science I suggest the article bt B.W. Masse et all Exploring the nature of myth and its role in science in Piccardi, L. and Masse .W.B. (eds) Myth and Geology, GSL, London, Special Publication, 273, 9-28
As Dorothy Vitaliano, the founder of this discipline states in the preface to her book Legends of the Earth, their Geologic Origins (1973) “One of the main reasons for undertaking the more ambitious enterprise has been the hope that in its own small way such a book might help bridge the communication gap between the scientist and the non-scientist. In these times, when the results of man’s tampering with his natural environment are rapidly approaching crisis proportions, it is crucial that everyone, from the man in the street to those who make the laws and political decisions affecting the environment, be acquainted with the physical and biological processes that operate to create and maintain or change that environment.”