Visit to Mount Vesuvius, source of catastrophic disaster in AD79

9above image is a capture of Mount Vesuvius from Herculaneum.)

This morning I visited Mount Vesuvius. a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy, about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore.. . Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure, possibly 50pct higher than today's peak. Elevation is 1,281 metres (4,203 ft).
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae, as well as several other settlements. The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), erupting molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 6×105 cubic metres (7.8×105 cu yd) per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings during WW2.. More than 1,000 people died in the eruption, but exact numbers are unknown.
Vesuvius has erupted many times since and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby, making it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world, as well as its tendency towards violent, explosive eruptions. 

Crater interior
 Crater interior

 Hot gases/steam escaping from the crater

 It appears that the people living on the sides of Vesuvius were unaware that the structure was volcanic although 'warnings' of danger occurred in the years prior to the major eruption in form of earthquakes which caused considerable structural damage to buildings and infrastructure.
Christian shrine atop Vesuvius. Ironically, there is evidence of a Christian cross in Herculaneum at a time when the religion was heavily persecuted.
Today, Vesuvius is closely monitored using sophisticated measuring equipment with object of giving adequate prior warning in event of another eruption.
View of Bay of Naples from Vesuvius

Although catastrophic for the local peoples of AD 79 the positives for us today are:
  • A valuable insight, via archaeology, into the conditions pertaining around midday on one day in September AD79 at a time when the Roman Empire was at its peak.
  •  Access to a valuable library of about 2000 scrolls at a luxury villa at Herculaneum. Although carbonised there are reports that experts may have found a way of reading the scripts using advance technology and thereby providing us with a valuable insight into the literature of ancient Greece and Rome.
  • A strong boost via tourism to the local economies of Naples and Sorrento which would otherwise suffer as depressed regions.


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