DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Vesuvius. Artwork showing the explosive eruption of the volcano Vesuvius, which dominates the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, on 24 August in the year 79AD. The eruption destroyed the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pompeii was buried under up to 8 metres of ash and pumice. Over 2000 skeletons have been discovered there, many in voids in the compacted ash left by the decomposed body tissue. Herculaneum was flooded by a thick lahar (mud-flow), in places 20 metres deep. This was the first eruption accurately recorded in western civilisation, as the whole episode was chronicled by Pliny the Younger. The most recent eruption of Vesuvius was in 1944.
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