Mount Vesuvius, a volcano, located in Campania, near Naples, Italy, has experienced eight major eruptions in the last 17,000 years.
Maps Vesuvius from space
Before Vesuvius Erupted • On August 23, 79 AD, Pompeii, a city at the base of Mt. Vesuvius, looked like any other busy, prosperous Roman city. People were moving about, trading goods, news, and friendly talk. • Three days later, on August 26, all of these sounds had fallen silent, and the place itself had vanished. Almost nothing was seen of Pompeii for more than 1500 years. Timeline of Vesuvius’ Eruptions
The August 24th 79 AD eruption is one of the most well known ancient eruptions in the world, and may have killed more than 16,000 people. • Ash, mud and rocks from this eruption buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pompeii was buried 10' deep, while Herculaneum was buried under 75' of ash.
Look into a Volcano Vesuvius is a Stratovolcano To learn more about volcanoes click on the volcano pictures
Plinian Volcanoes • Pliny the Younger, a Roman historian who witnessed the 79 AD eruption, wrote the oldest surviving description of the tall, tree-shaped cloud that rose above the volcano. • The 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius is why volcanologists use “Plinian” to describe large volcanic eruption clouds. • Modern volcanologists use the term”Plinian” to describe large-volume, violent eruptions that produce quickly-expanding clouds of rock, ash and gases which rise many miles into the atmosphere.
The Eruption-August 24 79 AD • Beginning around noon on August 24, Vesuvius began its assault, and the streets of Pompeii and the surrounding region began accumulating lapilli, or small pieces of solidified lava. • Residents of the towns began to flee—some further inland, and many towards the sea, which was too turbulent to navigate. • By dawn of the following morning, the eruption had poured an avalanche of ash onto Herculaneum, Oplontis, and finally Pompeii.
Because of the prolonged nature of the eruption, many fugitives had time to prepare for their flight. • The remains of victims were found alongside many possessions they held dear to them and hoped to save in their flight from the ashes. • These pieces proved extremely valuable in identifying the victims, and help archeologists to reconstruct details of daily life: doctors carried with them their surgical tools in hopes of helping others; the do; minas, or women of the house, held their precious jewels and heirlooms and slaves were found with iron rings around their ankles. • Watch a video
Frozen in Time Pompeii is famous for the casts the hot ash formed around victims of the eruptions. The unfortunate people suffocated on ash in the air, which then covered them and preserved amazing details of their clothing and faces.
At the time Mount Vesuvius erupted, Pompeii was a wealthy Roman trading town, famous for its fish sauce and grand villas. It was international and cosmopolitan.
Pompeians poured their savings into their houses. Wealthy people enriched their homes with elegant courtyard gardens decorated with frescoes of plants and flowers and an abundance of modern conveniences. Each room was heated by hot air running through cavity walls and spaces under the floors, while sophisticated hydraulic pumps provided running water.
Learn More • Visit a museum exhibit in Australia
Since 79 AD 1856 • Starting in 1631, Vesuvius entered a period of steady volcanic activity, including lava flows and eruptions of ash and mud. Violent eruptions in the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s created more fissures, lava flows, and ash-and-gas explosions. These damaged or destroyed many towns around the volcano, and sometimes killed people; the eruption of 1906 had more than 100 casualties. The most recent eruption was in 1944 during World War II. • It caused major problems for the newly-arrived Allied forces in Italy when ash and rocks from the eruption destroyed planes and forced evacuations at a nearby airbase.
Vesuvius Today • Nearly 2,000 years after Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii under pumice and steaming volcanic ash, some 2.6 million tourists tramp annually through this archaeological site, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. • Frescoes in the ancient Roman city, one of Italy’s most popular attractions, fade under the blistering sun or are chipped at by souvenir hunters. Floor mosaics endure the tens of thousands of shuffling feet. Teetering columns and walls are propped up by wooden and steel scaffolding.
The site at Pompeii, 109-acre, is about an eighth the size of Central Park.(50 more acres or so are underground) • Visitors now have access to 35 % of the ruins. Click on the picture to take a short tour of the ruins today.
Mount Vesuvius is considered dangerous because, today, nearly three million people live in the direct path of a potential future eruption.
Bibliography http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/understanding-volcanoes-images-from-pompeii.html http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/understanding-volcanoes-lava-flow.html http://www.fieldmuseum.org/pompeii/ http://kids.discovery.com/games/pompeii/pompeii.html http://kids.discovery.com/games/pompeii/pompeii.html http://kids.discovery.com/games/pompeii/pompeii.html http://www.archaeologychannel.org/content/video/pompdest.html http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/pompeii/pmpMain.html