Devil in the Mountain

Why is the Earth not shaped as a smooth sphere like a marble? Why are there immensely deep trenches under the oceans and mountains towering into the sky? Devil in the Mountain is the story of scientist Simon Lamb (, and his attempt to grapple with this great geological question. The truth, like the devil, is in the detail. Lamb uncovers the truth about geological processes by examining natural detail in the Andes.


Lamb spent time exploring the rugged Bolivian Andes, the second highest mountain range on Earth, a region rocked by earthquakes and violent volcanic eruptions. The account is both travelogue and detective story, describing how he and his colleagues have pursued a trail of clues in the mountains, hidden beneath the rocky landscape. The team had to cope with the extremes of the environment, and survive in a country on the verge of civil war. But the backdrop to all these adventures is the bigger story of the Earth and how geologists understand its history. We follow the tracks of the dinosaurs, who never saw the Andes but left their mark on the shores of a vast inland sea that covered this part of South America more than sixty-five million years ago, long before the mountains existed. And we learn how to find long lost rivers that once flowed through the landscape, how continents are twisted and torn apart, and where volcanoes come from.


By the end of their journey, Lamb and his team turn up extraordinary evidence pointing not only to the fundamental instability of the Earth’s surface, but also to unexpected and profound links in the workings of our planet. This is a superb, enjoyable, and educational read. Check if this story of first class science research is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at



336 pages in Princeton University Press

First published 2004

ISBN 978-0691115962


Dr Simon Lamb

Dr Simon Lamb

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