the eruption of mt vesuvius in ad 79 n.
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The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. Why Vesuvius?. Mt. Vesuvius lies on a fault , a break in the earth’s crust between the African crustal plate and the European crustal plate

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why vesuvius
Why Vesuvius?
  • Mt. Vesuvius lies on a fault, a break in the earth’s crust between the African crustal plate and the European crustal plate
  • This break results in magma, or molten rock, being forced up to the surface of the earth where one of the plates is being pushed under the other in a process known as subduction
  • This region is therefore prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity

A Subduction Zone

(from what two Latin words does “subduction” derive?)

mt vesuvius
Mt. Vesuvius
  • Mt. Vesuvius is a stratovolcano, a volcano built up with layers of magma that create steep sides; this creates the potential for violent eruptions
  • Mt. Vesuvius had erupted several times in early Roman history, but Romans kept no records of it; it had not had a large eruption since 1800 BC and was building a large magma chamber to breed a catastrophe
august 24 ad 79
August 24, AD 79
  • Earthquakes were the first sign of Vesuvius’ activity in the weeks prior to August 24, AD 79
  • Prior to that, Vesuvius was simply regarded as a mons (a mountain) that was suitable for growing grapes because of the rich volcanic soil
  • It was named for Hercules, son of Zeus, who was also known as Ves (in Greek Vesuvious would mean “Son of Zeus”)
august 24 ad 791
August 24, AD 79
  • The eruption began about 1 pm when a giant column of smoke and ash rose in an explosion from the volcano
  • Soon afterwards, small light stones called pumice and heavier stones fell out of the sky at over 100 miles per hour
  • The weight of them could cause a headache (ouch!) or collapse roofs
  • The material ejected is collectively known as tephra
the perfect storm
The Perfect Storm
  • As ash blanketed the sky, a wind blowing across the bay kept the ash hovering over Pompeii instead of blowing it out to sea
  • People began to flee to the shore in hopes of escape – but rescue was not coming
  • Poisonous gases escaped from the volcanic vent, the most deadly of which were carbon dioxide and hydrogen chloride
  • Across the Bay of Naples, in Misenum, a young Pliny with is uncle, the Elder Pliny, watched the growing disaster
death comes
Death Comes
  • During the 19 hour eruption cycle, Vesuvius expelled 1 cubic mile of material
  • The most deadly material came in the form of a pyroclastic flow – a superheated cloud of gas and ash that came from the collapsing eruption column; it rushed down the side of the mountain at 60 kilometers an hour with a temperature over 600 degrees farenheit
  • This pyroclastic flow carbonized humans in its path, causing their brains to explode out of their heads
the finale
The Finale
  • The eruption ended on August 25th with the final collapse of the eruption column blanketing Pompeii and nearby cities with ash
  • Approximately 3,000 people were killed
  • Because their remains were carbonized, their body forms were left in the ash for archaeologists to study in the 20th century – the eruption had both destroyed and saved a town