Mount Vesuvius

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Vesuvius, Mount


an active volcano in southern Italy, near Naples.

Vesuvius is shaped like three cones placed one inside the other. Remains of the exterior (oldest) cone show the arc-shaped swell of Monte Somma; the remains were preserved only on the northern and western slopes of Vesuvius. Inside this exterior cone rises the main cone, which is younger and higher (Vesuvius proper; 1,277 m), with a crater at its peak. A third, temporary cone, which is destroyed during more violent eruptions (for example, in 1906), appears periodically at the bottom of the crater. The outline and height of the main cone vary somewhat; it is composed of intermingled strata of lava and volcanic tufa. Steam and gases with temperatures of up to 400° C erupt at various places in the crater and lava flows. The weathering of lavas and tufas has made the soil on Vesuvius’ slopes fertile. There are orchards and vineyards on the lower slopes. Higher, at elevations of up to 800 m, there are mostly pine groves. During an eruption, plants and inhabited areas are frequently victims of the elements.

Violent eruptions of Vesuvius usually alternate with periods of weak activity. The first known eruption took place in A.D. 79, but it has also been suggested that the first eruption was during the eighth century B.C. There were major eruptions in 1631, 1794, 1822, 1872, 1906, and 1944. Lava from the eruption in 1944 destroyed the city of San Sebastiano. Since then, Vesuvius has been in a period of weak fumarole activity. In the past, the eruptions of the volcano have been characterized by the ejection of large amounts of ash and gases, which then spread upward into a cloud resembling an Italian pine. The formation of these “pines” has often been accompanied by a thunderstorm and downpour; the mixture of rain and ash creates a flood of mud no less dangerous than the lava. In A.D. 79 the city of Herculaneum was destroyed by such a flood; the city of Stabiae was inundated by lava, and Pompeii was completely buried by volcanic ash that covered its buildings with a layer nearly 8 m thick. Since 1842 there has been a volcanic observatory on Vesuvius at an elevation of about 600 m.


Levinson-Lessing, F. Iu. “Poseshchenie kratera Vesuviia 6 iiulia 1926 goda.” Doklady AN SSSR, October, 1926.
Alfano, G. B., and I. Friedlaender. La storia del Vesuvio dai documenticoevi. Ulm, 1929.
Imbo, G. Catalogue of Active Volcanoes of the World. Part 18: Italy, 1965. (International Association of Volcanology.)


References in periodicals archive ?
Scientists believe that Mt. Vesuvius is hundreds of thousands of years old, and has erupted more than 50 times.
Here, Pletho in Aristotelem leaves us with an image akin to Pliny the Younger studying Livy while Mt. Vesuvius erupts in the background.
As he learns that the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius is imminent, Attilus races to escape the conspirators and rescue Corelia.
Among the applications of pattern recognition techniques to volcanic-seismic signals, two recent works are highlighted: Automatic classification of seismic signals at Mt. Vesuvius volcano, Italy (Scarpetta et al., 2005) and automatic classification of seismic events at Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat (Langer et al., 2006).
The Outer Peristyle's bronze busts sit in the same spots occupied by the first-century originals at Villa dei Papiri--the Roman country home (destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius) that inspired the museum's design.
He is part of a group that is studying Mt. Vesuvius. "Written records that go back thousands of years provide a historical record regarding when eruptions occurred, how long they lasted, and how long the volcano was dormant.
of Manchester, England) offers a history of Pompeii that differs from other studies by investigating archaeological evidence in layers created earlier than the well-preserved remains of AD 79 caused by the Mt. Vesuvius eruption.
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Just days before Mt. Vesuvius erupts, a young engineer is dispatched from Rome to see why the aqueduct is failing.
From ancient times to today, a visit to ancient Pompeii, a row through the blue grotto on the island of Capri or a climb up Mt. Vesuvius have been enticing experiences for visitors.
A panoramic view of the city of Naples, Italy, showing the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius.
Multispectral imaging, originally developed for imaging planetary surfaces--including that of Earth--is now being used to pry lost works of classical literature from the remnants of ancient papyrus scrolls incinerated by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.