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14 July 2012

Vesuvius in 2012

Vesuvius erupted  for centuries, but now it sleeps from 1944.  This behaviour is typical for this mount. We know that Hannibal saw Vesuvius erupt in 215 BC, but it was snoozing in 73 BC when Spartacus and other slaves took refuge on its slopes. 100 years later the Greek historian Strabo wrote that Vesuvius was a volcano like Etna because their rocks seemed similar to him, but it was  forgotten when in August 24, 79 AD, eruption began.

Vesuvius has erupted more than 80 times till 1944. The eruptions were very different in severity but all are  explosive. From time to time, the eruptions affect the whole Europe: it was often blanketed by ashes; in 472 and than in 1631, 600 years of sleep after 1037, Vesuvian ashes fell on Istanbul, over 1,000 miles away. 

In December 1631, a great eruption buried many villages, and killed around 3,000 - 4,000 persons with smoke and ash. Torrents of boiling water and mud completed the devastation. After it, it's activity became almost continuous. In 1944, Allied troops had to evacuate an airbase: ash and rocks destroyed fighter planes there.

Vesuvius is a part of the Campanian volcanic arc. This zone includes also other volcanoes: Mount Etna, the Phlegraean Fields (Campi Flegrei), Vulcano, and Stromboli. But Vesuvius' rocks are  chemically different from those erupted from the other Campanian volcanoes.

When erupts, Vesuvius throws pulverized  pumice in the sky to a height of 20.5 miles, molten rock goes out with 1.5  million  tons per second

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