Mount Vesuvius - Volcanic time bomb in the Gulf of Naples
Vesuvius is a somma volcano located just 9 km east of Naples. The volcano dominates the Gulf of Naples. It is reaching a height of 1281 m. Vesuvius is the most prominent volcano of several volcanoes in this area. Together they formed the Campanian volcanic arc.
The recent pyroclastic cone of Mount Vesuvius was grown within a large caldera of the Monte Somma. So the volcano has got two summits. The caldera wall of Monte Somma channeled lava flows and pyroclastic flows to the south and west.
Vesuvius consists mainly of phonolite. This is a highly viscous lava style with a large explosive potential. The volcano is famous for its destructive plinian eruptions and is one of the most dangerous volcanoes worldwide because the Gulf of Naples is a densely populated area. Here live about 3000000 people in the neighborhood of active volcanoes.
In the last 17000 years eight mayor explosive eruptions have taken place. The best known eruption of Vesuvius took place on 24th August 79. This powerful eruption led to destruction of the roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. Volcanic ashes rose up to a height of 33 km. The collapse of the ash cloud generated pyroclastic flows which burried the cities under a thick layer of volcanic deposits. An estimated 16000 people died in this natural disaster.
The largest eruption since 79 CE was the one of 1631. Pyroclastic flows devastated great areas and reached as far as the coast. The last eruption of Mount Vesuvius was in 1944. Lava flows destroyed the village of Massa on the volcano's flank. Since then, rests the volcano. Its current crater has a diameter of 500 m and 300 m deep.
The media speculated repeatedly about an imminent volcanic eruption of Vesuvius. But scientists see no evidence of an imminent volcanic eruption. They fear rather an eruption of Campi Flegrei. This large caldera-volcano lies few kilometers west of Naples and is the most dangerous volcano in Europe.
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