Remains of two Vesuvius volcano victims found: What was the eruption of 79 AD?


Culture Ministry announced on November 21 the discovery of well-preserved remains of two men, who perished during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. 

  • The eruption was a catastrophic event that destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and killed around 16,000 people.
  • Located in southern Italy near the coastal city of Naples, the 4,203-ft (1,281 metres) tall Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe.
  • Vesuvius has been classified as a complex volcano (also called a compound volcano), one that consists of a complex of two or more vents.
  • Vesuvius typically has explosive eruptions and pyroclastic flows –– defined as a high-density mix of hot lava blocks, pumice, ash and volcanic gas.
  • It has erupted more than 50 times, and is considered among the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its proximity to Naples and surrounding towns. 
  • Its last serious eruption, lasting two weeks, was in 1944 during World War II, which left 26 Italian civilians dead and around 12,000 displaced.
  • Then in August of 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted, ejecting ashes, pumice and extremely hot gases to a great height, allowing the explosion to be seen from hundreds of kilometres away. A contemporary account described it as a “cloud of unusual size and appearance.”
  • The debris then began drifting to Pompeii and its feeling residents. Conditions later worsened as a pyroclastic surge poured down the side of the mountain, and began to flow over everything that came in its path. The city was buried under thousands of tonnes of volcanic ash.
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