One of the world's most noted volcanoes, Vesuvius (Vesuvio) forms a dramatic backdrop to the Bay of Naples. The historically active cone of Vesuvius was constructed within a large caldera of the ancestral Monte Somma volcano, thought to have formed incrementally beginning about 17,000 years ago. The Monte Somma caldera wall has channeled lava flows and pyroclastic flows primarily to the south and west. Eight major explosive eruptions have taken place in the last 17,000 years, often accompanied by large pyroclastic flows and surges, such as during the well-known 79 CE Pompeii eruption. Intermittent eruptions since 79 CE were followed by a period of frequent long-term explosive and effusive eruptions beginning in 1631 and lasting until 1944. The 1631 eruption was the largest since 79 CE and produced devastating pyroclastic flows that reached as far as the coast and caused great destruction. Many towns are located on the volcano's flanks, and several million people live within areas potentially affected by eruptions of Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius provides a backdrop to the city of Naples. The modern cone of Vesuvius is flanked on the left by Monte Somma, the rim of a caldera that formed about 17,000 years ago. Eight major explosive eruptions have occurred since, including the 79 CE eruption that destroyed Pompeii and other towns. A period of frequent, long-duration eruptions began in 1631. The latest eruption of Vesuvius was in 1944.
Photo by Dan Dzurisin, 1983 (U.S. Geological Survey).
Last updated 2019-09-21 04:00:03