MEDIA
Killer Volcanoes
(NOVA). 55 min. PBS. 2017. $24.99. ISBN 9781531702304.
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Gr 6 Up—This episode plays out like a forensic murder investigation, beginning with the excavation of a medieval mass grave in London. (Despite the title, this program focuses on one volcanic eruption.) A century before the Black Death, the grave's occupants had fallen victim to a catastrophic famine. Using ice core samples recovered at both poles, scientists conjecture that a volcanic eruption in 1257 changed the earth's climate so severely that it caused the famine. A team of French and Indonesian volcanologists study weather patterns and analyze mineral compositions to pinpoint Lombok Island in Indonesia, where historical texts describe the destruction of an entire mountain. The excellent photography displays a lush tropical setting, and the program makes good use of computer animation to demonstrate volcanic processes.
VERDICT History buffs and volcano enthusiasts will find this fascinating. However, general viewers (whether at home or in the classroom) may find its scope too narrow.

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