What is the history of Mount Vesuvius?

Mount Vesuvius is famous for destroying the ancient city of Pompeii back in 79 A.D. But apart from that, what else do we know about it? The tragic destruction of Pompeii isn’t the only time this massive volcano has erupted and wasn’t the last. Read here to find out the secrets of this looming volcano in Southern-east Italy.

What is a Volcano?

A volcano is, in simplest forms an opening in the earth’s crust. Where lava, volcanic ash, and poisonous gas’s escape from. From a distance, volcanos usually have a similar look to a large mountain, with only the opening at the top a variance in appearance. There are three types of volcanos; active, dormant, or extinct. Active Volcanos are defined by being the most recent eruptions, usually ranging in eruptions less than 10, 000 years ago. Dormant volcanos have had a long longer since their last eruption, usually past 10, 000 years but it is likely they will erupt again. Extinct volcanos will never erupt again, becoming more of a mountain than a dangerous volcano.

It’s History

Mount Vesuvius has a long history, dating back thousands of years before humans ever encountered it. Scientists have researched its age, finding ancient debris of rock on the volcano which confirmed the volcano’s age being around 300,000-400,000 years old. Although the 79 A.D. incident is the volcano’s most famous eruption, it has been through numerous flare-ups.

Pre-79 A.D. Eruptions

Before Pompeii’s destruction, there were around eight gigantic and noteworthy eruptions in the last 17,000 years, with numerous smaller ones in-between them. It first extremely destructive eruption was 25,000 years ago, but before that had many smaller explosions throughout its years.

The 79 A.D. Eruption

Before the catastrophic destruction of Pompeii, no one in Italy knew of Mount Vesuvius’ danger. The story of Pompeii’s demise becomes even more tragic after discovering that the Pompeii people didn’t just have unknown knowledge of Mount Vesuvius but didn’t even have a word for a volcano, merely thinking the volcano was a large mountain. A good deal of people may believe that a volcano’s devastation is only due to the hot lava that flows from its top, but it is much more complex. There are waves of different events that aid in a city and its civilisation’s destruction, with the eruption of Pompeii having numerous stages. Earthquakes were the first stage in the volcano’s eruption, but due to this being a common occurrence, Pompeii merely brushed this off. Vesuvius then erupted days later, causing a loud clatter of thunder sound, and blasted a huge cloud of volcanic smoke around 19 kilometres high. After this, large pyroclastic waves of gas, ash, and rock speed down towards Pompeii at speeds of 700 kilometres per hour. This was the main stage that killed the citizens, as those consumed in this wave were burnt alive with temperatures gathered up to 700 degrees Celsius. The entire eruption time lasted a full 24 hours, where it slowly buried the city in the thick layer of ash and rock.

After 79 A.D. Eruptions

Since Pompeii’s destruction, there have been about fifty eruptions, with the most recent in 1944 during World War II. It was a bad time for an eruption, with the locals already suffering dictatorial rule, invasion, and bombings. At the time of the eruption, the United States Army Air Forces 340th Bombardment Group was based at Pompeii, only a few kilometres from the base of the volcano.

The eruption lasted a week and a half and was one of the worst eruptions in Mount Vesuvius’ recent history.

The Volcano Today

Vesuvius is still the only active volcano in all of Europe named the sleeping giant by locals. Scientists have estimated its time period between eruptions and have gathered it is due for an eruption. There are even more people living within the Volcano’s perimeter these days, with three million residents who are all at risk. However, due to modern technology, monitoring the volcano and its activity is much easier. With scientists researching its gas emissions, movements and other indicators will give them any warnings. An evacuation has already been implemented in case of any eruptions. The areas have been dubbed either the ‘red zone’, which refers to the areas in closest danger and the rest which would be affected later on.

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