Iain Stewart reveals some surprising facts about the world's most destructive and spectacular natural phenomena, from earthquakes and tsunamis to avalanches and volcanoes.
Iain Stewart journeys across the oceans to explore the most powerful giant waves in history, with ten remarkable stories about tsunamis. These massive waves can be taller than the biggest skyscraper, travel at the speed of a jet plane and when they reach land, rear up and turn into a terrifying wall of water that destroys everything in its path. These unstoppable, uncontrollable forces of nature caused the ruin of an entire ancient civilization, may have played a small part in the demise of the dinosaurs, and in World War II were used as a weapon. Yet astonishingly, two men who surfed the tallest wave in history - half a kilometre high - survived.
Iain Stewart looks at some of the world's most dramatic earthquakes and reveals the stories and science behind them. In seconds, these powerful forces of nature which cannot be predicted or prevented can shake a town to destruction and shift the landscape forever. We discover why quakes can last 60 times longer on the moon than on earth; how one particular earthquake fault line can produce hallucinations; and how 1960s Cold War spying gave scientists a crucial clue to understanding them.
Iain Stewart travels across mountain ranges and glaciers to reveal ten remarkable stories about avalanches. Over a million avalanches happen throughout the world each year, and yet we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the chaotic turbulence inside an avalanche. Scientists have had to put themselves right inside a raging avalanche to find out more. Stewart shows how the deadliest avalanche in history killed 18,000 people in three minutes; how Hannibal's army was devastated by avalanches as he crossed the Alps to fight Rome; why an avalanche was key to one of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time; and how global warming may increase the rate of ice avalanches in the future.
Iain Stewart takes a grand tour of the world's most extraordinary volcanoes. With explosions that dwarf atomic bombs, waves of hot turbulent gas that travel at the speed of sound and rivers of hot molten rock that destroy everything in their path, volcanic eruptions can literally move mountains in minutes and are rightly thought of as among the most destructive and deadly events in nature. But there is far more to volcanoes than death and destruction, because without them the planet would be a very different place - there would be no atmosphere and no life.