When Did Vesuvius Erupt?

Located in the Gulf of Naples, just 9km east of Naples on Italy’s west coast you will find the stratovolcano Mount Vesuvius. The only active volcano on mainland Europe, this fascinating peak contributes to an important part of Italy’s history. Known most infamously for the eruption of 79 AD which submerged the town of Pompeii beneath debris, Mount Vesuvius contributed to the marvel that is modern day Pompeii, perfectly preserved for almost 2000 years.

The Famous Eruption of 79AD

The destruction and submersion of Pompeii took a total of 25 hours, which, by volcanic standards, is a very sudden occurrence. It is recorded that the ash had entirely blocked out the sun for the City of Pompeii in less than an hour after the initial eruption. Unfortunately for many of the locals, little note was taken of the several earthquakes earlier in the month leading up to the eruption. These earthquakes were indicative of the coming explosion but because of the regular seismic activity in these parts, few people paid these signs any mind.

More Recent Volcanic Eruptions

While Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD may be the most well known, there are records of over 50 eruptions. With this in mind, Vesuvius is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth because of its proximity to surrounding settlements and the city of Naples. In fact, there are as many as 600 000 people living in the volcano’s red zone today. Like most volcanoes worldwide, Mount Vesuvius follows a rough eruption cycle, which leads it to erupt every 20 years. However, the last eruption was in 1944 and was a relatively minor event. Because of this, most geologists agree that Vesuvius is well overdue for another eruption, and it is expected to be an immense one. This has led the Vesuvius observatory to monitor the seismic activity of the volcano around the clock to ensure that all residents in the surrounding towns are well informed of a coming eruption as soon as possible.

Mount Vesuvius sits atop a layer of magma almost 400 square kilometers in size. Not only is this a relatively enormous amount of magma, scientists expect the coming eruption to be exceptionally forceful, potentially capable of sending rock and ash hurtling through the air at up to 160km/h. The might of an eruption on this scale is equal to roughly 100 000 times the thermal energy of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

To be in the presence of such a mighty geological feature is certainly an awe-inspiring experience, and after ensuring that no notice of a coming eruption has been released, Mount Vesuvius is well worth a visit.

If you prefer to have your own private guide, check out our Private Pompeii Tour from Rome today!

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