Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii

By Mara Halbach

August 24th, 79 AD

"Just after midday on August 24, fragments of ash, pumice, and other volcanic debris began pouring down on Pompeii, quickly covering the city to a depth of more than 9 feet and causing the roofs of many houses to fall in. Surges of pyroclastic material and heated gas eached the city walls on the morning of August 25 and soon asphyxiated those residents who had not been killed by falling debris. Additional pyroclastic flows and rains of ash followed, adding at least another 9 feet of debris and preserving in a pall of ash the bodies of the inhabitants who perished while taking shelter in their houses or trying to escape toward the coast or by the roads leading to Stabiae or Nuceria. Thus Pompeii remained buried under a layer of pumice stones and ash 19 to 23 feet (6 to 7 metres) deep. The city’s sudden burial served to protect it for the next 17 centuries from vandalism, looting, and the destructive effects of climate and weather."

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What Caused Mount Vesuvius to Erupt?

According to, “The force that causes most of the plate movement is thermal convection, where heat from the Earth's interior causes currents of hot rising magma and cooler sinking magma to flow, moving the plates of the crust along with them.” Thermal convection caused the plate to move, along with rising magma pushing it along. Eventually the plate would move into another causing mountains or volcanoes to form. This is important to know because you now know the forces and energy sources that were involved in the formation of the volcano.
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What Tectonic Plate Motions Were Involved?

According to the History Channel, “No one was aware that Vesuvius was an active volcano, even after an earthquake in February of the year 63.” An earthquake caused the volcano (Mount Vesuvius) to erupt. From background knowledge I already know that an earthquake happens when two or more tectonic plates are moving, and since the plates that caused this volcano are converging, one of the plates moved under the other in result of a volcano. This is important because it tells you that there was an earthquake about a decade earlier before the volcano erupted.


Were there any survivors?

According to National Geographic, “The people whose footprints led to the north or northwest chose a path that probably saved their lives; those who set out to the east, like the young woman and the older man, toward the present-day Italian town of Avellino, unwittingly chose a path that led to certain death. They headed, by ill luck, smack into the middle of a fallout zone that would be swiftly buried under three feet of pumice.” During the volcano, if you headed for safety to the north and northwest, you would probably be safe, but if you headed to the east, you were heading straight towards your death because there was a fallout zone that would be buried.It is important to know this because then you know that the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius did not kill everyone, only people who didn’t evacuate their homes in time, or ran to safety in the wrong direction.
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