Facts about Mount Vesuvius
The most dangerous volcano in Europe
Vesuvius gained its notoriety by destroying in 79 AD. Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabie. Since then, despite intermittent activity, shadows of terror spread over Naples and the surrounding area.
1The height of Vesuvius today is 1,281 meters (4,203 feet),the depth of the crater 230 meters (754 feet),and the diameter between 550 and 650 meters (1 804 and 2 132 feet).
It is a stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples, overlooking Tyrrhenian Sea -an area known for its volcanic activity. There are two other active volcanoes at Tyrrhenian Sea - Stromboli
2It is a volcanic complex that includes Vesuvius and Monte Somma.
In the caldera of Monte Somma, which is a hollow in the top of the volcano, grew the cone of Vesuvius. From Monte Somma comes the term volcanic soma - the remnant of the caldera of a former stratovolcano, within which rose a new one, which is usually more prominent than the caldera.
3At the same time, it is the only active volcano on the territory of continental Europe and one of three active volcanoes on the territory of Italy.
4Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano.
Stratovolcanoes are cone-shaped mountains, consisting of multiple layers of lava and other pyroclastic materials that build up one on top of the other. Like classic cone volcanoes, stratovolcanoes also have steep slopes.
5The beginning of the activity of Vesuvius is dated to about 25,000 years ago.
It was formed by the collision of the Eurasian and African tectonic plates. The water-saturated African plate was pushed into the lower layers of the Earth, where under the influence of temperature water evaporated and caused the melting of the rocks of the mantle. Concentrated as a result of this process, magma was pushed upwards under high pressure, where it came to the surface at the weakest point of the earth's crust, forming volcanoes that are part of the volcanic chains in the Campania area.
6Vesuvius is one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes.
The list also includes Grímsvötn (Iceland), Cotopaxi (Ecuador), Mayon (Philippines), Popocatépetl (Mexico) or Nyiragongo (Democratic Republic of Congo).
7Due to the size of the possible eruption, in the danger zone lives about 600 thousand people and 3 million may be affected by a potential disaster.
The crater of Vesuvius on the cone of Gran Cono is only 15 kilometers from the center of Naples. In Naples alone lives nearly 960 thousand people, and nearby there are also: Salerno (140 thousand inhabitants), Avellino (57 thousand inhabitants), Aversa (56 thousand inhabitants) or Caserta (85 thousand inhabitants).
8The formation of the volcano began about 25 thousand years ago. Subsequent eruptions and lava flows caused the mountain to grow ever larger.
Another powerful explosion occurred about 19 thousand years ago, initiating the whole cycle of cataclysms that occur every few hundred to a few thousand years. A powerful eruption of VEI index magnitude 6 occurred 18,300 years ago, forming the Mount Somma caldera. Further devastating eruptions followed 16,000, 11,000, 8,000, and 5,000 years ago.
9Around 1995 BC, the so-called Avellino eruption occurred. This was one of the first eruptions of Vesuvius that resulted in the annihilation of human settlements.
This event was larger than the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 and contributed to the destruction of many human settlements of the Apennine culture. On the Volcanic Explosivity Index scale, this eruption had a magnitude of 6, while the eruption of 79 had "only" 5. Representatives of the Apennine culture inhabited the entire Apennine Peninsula and were characterized by the construction of round houses on stone foundations, burials in caves and megalithic tombs, and the ability to breed animals.
10After the eruption of Avellino in 1995 BC, the volcano passed into a state of more frequent but less dangerous eruptions.
This situation remained until 217 BC, when Vesuvius made its presence felt again. Apparently from 217 BC to 79 AD the area was quiet and the slopes of the volcano were covered with vineyards and gardens. During this blissful period of 295 years, people forgot about the hidden power of the mountain and probably therefore underestimated the earthquakes that preceded the destruction of Pompeii
11The present cone of Gran Cono was formed during the eruption in 79.
Before the eruption, there was only the Somma caldera and earlier volcanoes that were formed over the last thousands of years.
12It is not known precisely how many people died as a result of the eruption of 79, but it is estimated that the population of Pompeii and Herculaneum may have totaled 20,000.
So far, the remains of about 1500 people have been found in the area of the two ancient cities, 1044 of them in Pompeii.
13Although the catastrophe at Pompeii was quite remote in time, eyewitness accounts of the destruction have survived to our times.
These accounts are contained in letters written by Pliny the Younger to Publius Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian. Pliny was about 17 years old at the time of the catastrophe and observed the events surrounding the volcano from a distance of about 29 kilometers, from the city of Misenium. His uncle, Pliny the Elder, set out to rescue his friend and sent a rescue fleet towards the volcano. Although written 25 years after the volcanic eruption, Pliny's letters describe quite well the information gathered from his uncle and his own observations made "at a safe distance."
14Only 25 hours - that's how long it took Vesuvius to destroy Pompeii.
People who decided to evacuate on the first day of the eruption had a chance to survive. On that day, crumbs of pyroclastic material fell on Pompeii with temperatures between 120 and 140 °C. Early in the morning of the second day, the gray ash cloud began to collapse. Two large waves struck and destroyed Pompeii. Herculaneum and its entire population ceased to exist. The temperatures of the waves of pyroclastic material already exceeded 200 °C, giving no one the slightest chance of survival.
15The exact date of the eruption of 79 is unfortunately not known.
Thanks to charcoal markings on Pompeian walls discovered in October 2018, it is known that the city was still functioning normally on 17 October 79.
16The last eruption of the volcano occurred between March 17 and 23, 1944. Since then, Vesuvius has shown no activity.
However, this does not mean that Vesuvius is not capable of renewed eruptions with catastrophic consequences. According to the current pattern, large eruptions with a magnitude of 5 to 6 on the VEI scale occur every few thousand years.
17Mount Vesuvius is located in the territory of the Vesuvius National Park, created on June 5, 1995.
In the park are protected both local plants and animals and archaeological sites and geological formations. Within the national park can be found about 906 species of plants and a variety of animal species.
18Currently, on the slopes of the volcano are cultivated both vegetables and fruit, and establish vineyards.
19From the top of Mount Vesuvius stretches a beautiful view over the Gulf of Naples.
Annually, the volcano and the surrounding area are visited by about 2.5 million tourists.