Mount Vesuvius' Eruption

By Jeremy Upton


Pompeii. A city devastated by the erupting Mount Vesuvius on 24 August, AD 79.

Around 13,000 people lost their lives to ash falling upon the city. The people of the town of Herculaneum were also affected by this, and many lost their lives there as well.

And all this was caused by one volcano. This was Mount Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius is located in Italy.

Vesuvius' effects

On the Volcanic Explosivity Index, the AD 79 eruption is rated a 5. The index ranges from 0-8. The higher the number, the more extreme the eruption.

Vesuvius is part of a line of volcanoes that sit on a subduction zone where two tectonic plates meet, one riding on top of the other. This makes Vesuvius a highly active volcano.

One of the few surviving recountings of this event comes from Pliny the Younger. He was a young man whose uncle was stationed at Misenum. These are some of his words:My uncle's scholarly acumen saw at once that it was important enough for a closer inspection, and he ordered a boat to be made ready, telling me I could come with him if I wished. I replied that I preferred to go on with my studies, and as it happened he had himself given me some writing to do.

As he was leaving the house he was handed a message from Rectina, wife of Tascus whose house was at the foot of the mountain, so that escape was impossible except by boat. She was terrified by the danger threatening her and implored him to rescue her from her fate. He changed his plans, and what he had begun in a spirit of inquiry he completed as a hero. He gave orders for the warships to be launched and went on board himself with the intention of bringing help to many more people besides Rectina, for this lovely stretch of coast was thickly populated.

He hurried to the place which everyone else was hastily leaving, steering his course straight for the danger zone. He was entirely fearless, describing each new movement and phase of the portent to be noted down exactly as he observed them. Ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker as the ships drew near, followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames: then suddenly they were in shallow water, and the shore was blocked by the debris from the mountain.


I first found out about Vesuvius in book I read a few years ago.

I chose this event for this task because I thought it would be good for me too look into something older.

The thing that makes this event memorable is the fact that this volcano erupts very often for a volcano, even of its size.