Facts About Mount Vesuvius

Top 10 Facts About Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano located 9 kilometers east of modern Naples. It is known for its massive eruption in 79 A.D. when people didn’t even know what a volcano is. When it erupted in 79, it destroyed and buried under it the ancient city of Pompeii. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and still poses risk. It last erupted in 1944.

1. What makes it so dangerous

Mount Vesuvius is a Stratovolcano. Stratovolcanoes demonstrate highly explosive eruptions composed of toxic gases and deadly pyroclastic flows. The explosive nature of these volcanoes causes the material ejected flow down the slopes at fast speeds, quickly making way into neighboring civilization.

2. Big numbers of the Mega Eruption

A painting by John Martin depicting the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius eruption

The 79 A.D. eruption ejected clouds of stones, ashes, clouds and toxic gases to a height of 33 meters. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world. If erupted today, it would impact 3,000,000 people.

3. The letter that described the historical eruption

The eruption of the Mount Vesuvius is called a “Plinian Eruption”. The named “Plinian” is derived from the Pliny, the younger who eye-witnessed this eruption and described it in a letter to his uncle. In the letter, he described that the clouds he saw were unfamiliar and looked like a Stone Pine tree.

4. A 1908 eruption diverted the Olympic venue

In 1906, Mount Vesuvius violently erupted, ejecting streams of lava. It truncated the Mount Vesuvius and caused a crater at its top. At that time, Italy was preparing to host the Olympics in 1908. Due to massive damage caused, the funds were used to fix the damage and the venue of Olympics to London.

5. Major Eruptions

Mount Vesuvius has had 8 major eruptions. The most well known among them is the eruption of 79 A.D. that killed more than 16,000 people and buried the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Following this, the next biggest eruption in Mount Vesuvius happened in 1631 that killed 3,000 people. The most lava erupted was in the 1906 eruption. Another notable eruption is that of 1944 that happened during World War II.

6. Pre-eruption earthquakes

Before the 79 A.D. eruption, the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were hit by a series of devastating earthquakes signifying the impending doom.

7. Heat released

It released material at the rate of 600,000 cubic meters per second. The energy released from the 79 A.D eruption was 100,000 times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombings. Findings revealed that the 79 A.D. eruptions rose the temperature of the roof tiles of the houses to 140 degree Celsius and the pyroclastic temperatures surged to as much as 300 degree Celsius.

8. Bodies preserved under ash

It is estimated that the people who died during the Pompeii eruption died of sudden temperature surge rather than suffocating under ash. What the ash did was to perfectly preserve their bodies for years by forming a mold. Thanks to perfectly preserved bodies, the researchers were able to deduce how these people died and could explore more about the lifestyle in Pompeii.

9. Potential danger

Vesuvius has not erupted since 1944. It is dormant but still poses a significant threat to the nearby population. It is considered as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

10. Mount Vesuvius’ eruption led to coining the word “Volcano”

Until Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79, the people had no idea that the earth is capable of spewing lava. Hence, there was no such term as “volcano” until this eruption. It was, in fact, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that led to the invention of this word. The word “volcano” is derived from “Vulcan”, who is the Roman god of flame and metal forgery.

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