Vesuvius-Somma Volcano, Bay of Naples, Italy


Vesuvius Mt. is a relatively young stratovolcano, which originated from an older volcanic complex of Somma. This complex rose up from the alluvial plateau of the Bay of Naples some 12,000 years ago and reached the height of about 1,000 m. At present, the Vesuvius–Somma complex covers an area of 480 km2. A number of parasite craters have been evidenced, scattered on the outer slopes of the Somma Mt., in the last three millennia, ejecting tephrite and trachyte lava streams. After a strong eruption in AD 79, a new crater – Vesuvius (49°49′N, 14°26′E) – sprang up in the Somma's largest caldera. Mount Vesuvius was regarded by the Romans as being devoted to the hero and demigod Hercules and the town of Herculaneum, built at its base, was named after him.

Vesuvius is located on the coast of the Bay of Naples, about 9 km east of Napoli (= Naples), in a short distance from the shore. Its cone is conspicuous in the beautiful surrounding landscape, when seen from the sea with Naples in the foreground. Mount Vesuvius is the only volcano in the European mainland that has erupted within the last 100 years. The two other active volcanoes in Italy (Etna and Stromboli) are located on islands. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption that caused destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It has erupted many times since then; however, today's Vesuvius activities are reduced to little more than steam emanations from vents at the bottom of the crater. Nevertheless, because of the population of about three million people living close to Vesuvius and its hardly predictable tendency toward explosive eruptions, the volcano must be regarded as one of the most dangerous in Europe.


Private Collection Outer Slope Secondary Crater Crater Shape Main Crater 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

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