Visit a nearly pristine world with an entomologist who’s studied this new island almost since its birth in 1963.
Burns describes field research on Surtsey, weaving the geological and ecological history of the island, raised from the ocean by volcanic eruption, into a fascinating account of scientists at work, with particular emphasis on the life’s work of Erling Ólaffson, who studies the island’s insects. The author was privileged to join him and eight other researchers in July 2015 for a five-day visit to this natural laboratory for watching the progression of life; this once-barren island is still open only to scientists. She’s chosen details that will particularly interest her readers: the mechanics of insect capture, discovery of new species, day-to-day life. The seven men and three women (Icelandic except for the American writer and a Polish botanist; all are white) came by helicopter, stayed in a hut built for researchers, used designated bathroom areas (No. 2 goes under rocks near the ocean to be washed away), and left nothing but wooden stakes marking research squares and new-to-island plants. Photographs by the writer and several team members, especially the entomologist who first visited Surtsey in 1970, include gorgeous scenery, the changing face of the island, team members, and close-ups of plants, animals, and even the lava itself to help readers picture this unique experience.
An amazing science adventure well worth the trip. (glossary, further information resources, source notes, bibliography, acknowledgements, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)