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    3 000 m


View into the crater of Vesuvius

Vesuvius is one of the most famous volcanoes. It is located 20 km from Naples. the 1,281-metre high main cone with a summit crater is flanked to the north by an almost semicircular rockmonte Somma (1132 m), the remnant of a former crater that partially filled the main cone. Viewed from Naples and Pompeii, Vesuvius thus has two peaks. The broken cone of Vesuvius rises above the Bay of Naples in the central part of the Apennine Peninsula. The Adriatic (Adriatic) and Apulian microplate meet here, with the Tyrrhenian microplate pushing against it from the southwest. A number of volcanoes and volcanic manifestations are formed in this tectonically complex environment. Volcanic activity is known to have occurred in the area of Vesuvius today half a million years ago. The development of Vesuvius also took place in several phases. In the first one, a stratovolcano, now called Somma, was formed about 37 000 years ago, which later went through several periods of destruction and recovery.

Sunrise over the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius in the background.

Such periods usually began with a massive eruption that blew the top of the mountain off and formed a caldera. This was followed by a series of smaller eruptions in which lava piled up in the crater and on the slopes of the volcano until it more or less filled it. Then the volcano calmed down completely, and pressure gradually built up inside, ending the period of calm with another devastating explosion. This cycle repeated itself several times, usually after several thousand years. The last phase of calm was before 79 AD. This proverbial calm before the storm was shared by the inhabitants of the surrounding towns that were buried by the volcano in the same year. Since then there have been a number of smaller eruptions, the last of which was in 1944. For the inhabitants of the Bay of Naples area, Vesuvius is the source of the fertility and hospitality of this part of Campania, but on the other hand it is the proverbialm sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of at least a million inhabitants at the foot of the volcano and its immediate surroundings, including the large city of Naples.

Spring atmosphere on top of Vesuvius

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