Friday Miscellany: Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD,  is located close to Naples, Italy. It has a large cone created by the eruption in 79 AD that is surrounded by a steep caldera which is a cauldron-like cavity created by the collapse of an earlier, higher structure – Monte Somma about 18,000 years ago.

900px-Vesuvio_landscape

Vesuvius was formed as a result of the collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. A chain a volcanos, most of which are underwater and extinct was formed when the African slid underneath the Eurasian plate. The mountain is composed of lava, volcanic ash, and pumice. Prior to 79 AD Vesuvius was a pastoral haven that was planted with vineyards that produced a popular wine shipped around the Roman world.

The slopes of the mountain are scarred by lava flows but are heavily vegetated, with scrub and forest at higher altitudes and vineyards lower down. Vesuvius is as an active volcano which last erupted in 1944 during World War II. , although its current activity produces little more than steam from vents at the bottom of the crater.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Friday Miscellany: Mount Vesuvius

  1. Fascinating! Would you happen to know (or even remember) the short story about the skeleton of the dog with a preserved cookie in its mouth found during a dig at Pompeii? It was about the dog and the little boy it loved. Favorite story from elementary!

    • There is a famous dog cast, but not any story about a boy (heard he was blind) and the cookie. The only dog I’m aware of that we’ll see later was a guard dog that was chained. Surprisingly, there are very few references to the 79 eruption and little evidence of retrieval of goods by the survivors. I’ll post the two eyewitness accounts by Pliny the Younger later this month – but they were written 25 years after the fact.
      It will be interesting to see how the new Pompeii movie plays the story.

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