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History and curiosities about the eruptions of Vesuvius

Considered still today an active volcano, Mount Somma Vesuvius lived periods of intense eruptive activity. Today it is considered a sort of “good giant”, yet Vesuvius is actually an active volcano. Those who wish to visit it and deepen the aspects characterizing it, can be interested in learning some of its historical events. In this sense, we have to take into account that – as underlined by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology – Vesuvius or, more properly, Mount Somma, is a volcanic structure made up of the old volcano of Somma and by the more recent volcano of Vesuvius. The history of Mt Somma – Vesuvius began almost 25,000 years ago with the expansion of Mt. Somma after eruptions which were mainly effusive and secondly explosive. This activity lasted until 18,300 years ago, when the first eruption dating back to Pliny the Elder, took place, which caused the depression of the top part of the volcanic plant of Somma and the formation of the caldera. After this event, the volcanic activity and the following phases of depression brought to the formation of a structure with a complex shape, inside which the younger volcano, Vesuvius, got bigger. The evolutionary history of the volcano in this stage was characterized by the three main eruptions of Pomici di Mercato (8,000 years ago), Avellino (3,800 years ago) and Pompeii (79 A.D.) and by numerous eruptions of lower intensity among which there are sub -Pliny eruptions as of 472 A.D. and as of 1631. With 1631 a period of half- persistent activity with an open channel began, characterized by numerous effusive and explosive eruptions of low energy. The eruption as of 1944 was the last eruption of Vesuvius, during which the inhabitants of San Sebastiano, of Massa Somma and of Cercola (almost 10,000 people) were forced to the evacuation. This eruption marked the passage to a phase in which the volcano has its channel obstructed and is characterized by fumaroles and a moderate seismicity.

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