Today is officially Vesuvius Day.
Mount Vesuvius (Italian: Monte Vesuvio, Latin: Mons Vesuvius) is a stratovolcano in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes which form the Campanian volcanic arc. 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.
Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. That eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ash and fumes to a height of 33 km (20.5 mi), spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing. An estimated 16,000 people died due to hydrothermal pyroclastic flows. The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus.
However, remember that there is contention over the date:
Myth #1 – Vesuvius did not erupt on 24 August AD 79. Everybody confidently quotes this as the date of the eruption, but everybody is probably wrong! At the turn of the 20th century, everybody claimed the eruption occurred in November. But Wallace-Hadrill thinks late September or early October is a likelier date. His clue is a lot of ripe pomegranates found near a buried villa at a place called Oplontis between Pompeii and Herculaneum. (This villa is known as the Villa Poppea or Villa Poppaea because it was owned by Nero’s wife Poppaea.) In Italy, pomegranates ripen in late September/early October. The problem is not with Pliny the Younger, whose famous letters tell us the date of the disaster, but with the monks who interpreted his dates as they copied his manuscripts.
That and more of the arguments here:
As date arguments go the time difference here is comparatively small, though not unimportant. I don’t know about that specific locality but generally in the northern hemisphere ripe pomegranates can be found as late as Winter in warm-hot climates. Without looking into the temperatures of that place/surrounding at the time there’s the likelihood of the ground being warmer/accelerating growth (pomegranates grow well in full sun to slight shade and drained to dry soil) in readiness for the volcano erupting so I would have thought the ripened fruit (and other seasonal items in general) could have been seen earlier than their usual harvest season.
Here’s an informative page on historical and political activity, including many excavations of the area pre and post the 79 AD date:
Interesting to note the lasting and popular worship of Isis whose temple had been in good condition and maintained before the 79 date unlike others, whereas other later major god morphs & local deities (Roman) have been attributed to the area. Ancient ISIS predating the Osiris/Horus era and linking back to native Mother Goddess spirituality/religion and Venus who does the same and being a very important factor in ancient goddess lineage. The Venus link fits in with what we know of the area though it was blended in with the later Hercules story.
What would happen if Mount Vesuvius erupted today?
When it comes to Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, it isn’t a question of if it erupts but when. Geologists and volcanologists who study the volcano readily concede that Mount Vesuvius is overdue for an explosion . For that reason, the Vesuvius Observatory monitors seismic activity, gas emissions and other indicators 24 hours a day to know at the earliest point when it may blow.
The last time Vesuvius activated was in 1944, causing minor damage and killing 26 people. New research has shown that the mountain probably will not act as kindly next time. For starters, Mount Vesuvius sits on top of a layer of magma deep in the earth that measures 154 square miles (400 square kilometers) . That’s a lot of magma — Kilaeua Volcano is probably the most active volcano in the world, with 34 eruptions since 1952 , but compared to Vesuvius, which has erupted around 30 times since 79 A.D. , its magma supply is much smaller. Topping it off, scientists expect that the next eruption will be an incredibly forceful explosion, termed plinean, marked by flying rock and ash at speeds of up to almost 100 miles per hour (160 kph).
Bear in mind that Kilaeua erupts regularly, they seem to be only counting the violent ones (though I consider indigestion to be violent in general *ahem*).
Why is all this interesting? Well, when isn’t it? We’re a volcano crystalline planet submerged in ton of water (with hollow bits in between). Bardarbunga in Iceland is on high alert worrying people because it was responsible for one of the largest eruptions (VEI 6 level) in the last 10,000 years and then the largest known Icelandic eruption in 1477. Then supervolcano at Yellowstone has been rumbling and groaning like nobody’s business.
(Above video: excellent skit, I’ve set the vid so that it starts at the right place if/when you start it.)