Article

The 79 AD eruption of Somma: The relationship between the date of the eruption and the Southeast Tephra dispersion

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Abstract

Somma-Vesuvius is a composite volcano on the southern margin of the Campanian Plain which has been active during the last 39 ka BP and which poses a hazard and risk for the main population center situated around its base. The fieldwork and data analysis on which this report is based are related to the eight Plinian eruptions that have occurred in the last 25 ka. For six of these eruptions, the fallout products were dispersed to the east–northeast, whereas deposits from the 25 ka Codola and AD 79 eruptions were dispersed in a south-easterly direction. During the AD 79 eruption, in particular, the dispersal axis migrated from the east–southeast to south–southeast. New high level wind data collected at the weather stations of the Aereonautica Militare data centres at Pratica di Mare (Rome) and Brindisi have been compiled to characterize the prevailing wind condition in the Somma-Vesuvius region. The common north-easterly dispersal directions of the Plinian eruptions are consistent with the distribution of ash by high-altitude winds from October to June. In contrast, the south-easterly trend of the AD 79 products appears to be anomalous, because the eruption is conventionally believed to have occurred on the 24th of August, when its southeast dispersive trend falls in a transitional period from the Summer to Autumnal wind regimes. In fact, the AD 79 tephra dispersive direction towards the southeast is not in agreement with the June–August high-altitude wind directions that are toward the west. This poses serious doubt about the date of the eruption and the mismatch raises the hypothesis that the eruption occurred in the Autumnal climatic period, when high-altitude winds were also blowing towards the southeast. New archaeological findings presented in this study definitively place the date of eruption in the Autumn, in good agreement with the prevailing high-altitude wind directions above Somma-Vesuvius.

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... Despite the date of August 24th is widely accepted in the literature, it derives from a medieval translation of the first Pliny's letter, which has been questioned several times since the 17th century (Ricciardi, 2009 and references therein). In this section, we will analyze all the available elements and clues, useful to definitely assert that the 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius could not have occurred on August 24th but, rather, between October and November of that same year, as already suggested by Rolandi et al. (2007) based on pyroclast dispersal and archaeological findings. About two years ago a discovery occurred, during new excavations of the 79 CE deposits: this consists of a wall inscription in Pompeii (Fig. 2) that would confirm the hypothesis, already formulated for some time, that the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE took place in autumn and not on August 24th, as reported by the medieval transcription of the famous Pliny's letter (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus,Epistulae VI,16). ...
... Therefore, the date of August 24th emphasizes the medieval belief that a volcanic eruption opens the door of Hell, and the day of the "mundus patet" of the ancient Roman ritual of the Vulcanalia must have seemed to medieval monks the best date to open the Vesuvius' crater, considered the "funnel of Hell" throughout the Middle Ages. Moreover, Rolandi et al. (2007) demonstrated that the mainly southward-oriented dispersal of the fallout deposits of the 79 CE eruption is compatible with the Autumn-Winter dominant direction of the stratospheric winds, rather than that of the Summer winds (Macedonio et al., 1988). With these elements, it is now possible to definitively establish that the date of the eruption cannot be August 24th but must be limited to an interval that goes from September 7th/8th (date of the silver denarius with the fifteenth acclamation of Tito) to November 1st (the most recent date among those deriving from the various transcriptions of Pliny's letter). ...
... Such debris flows could have had a high frequency, from months to years. On the other hand, compared to the other three Plinian eruptions of Somma-Vesuvius, the 79 CE eruption is the only to have the major axis of tephra dispersal elongated in southeast direction (toward Crete), which can give information of specific atmospheric circulation at that time related to some prevailing conditions (e.g., seasonal impact; Rolandi et al., 2007). It is useful to remember that the Roman time has been traditionally considered a period of general "benign" climate (the so-called "Roman Warm Period", e.g., Lamb, 1995, or "Roman Climatic Optimum", e.g., Harper, 2017. ...
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A full review of the 79 CE Plinian eruption of Vesuvius is presented through a multidisciplinary approach, exploiting the integration of historical, stratigraphic, sedimentological, petrological, geophysical, paleoclimatic, and modelling studies dedicated to this famous and devastating natural event. All studies have critically been reviewed and integrated with original data, spanning from proximal to ultradistal findings of the 79 CE eruption products throughout the Mediterranean. The work not only combines different investigation approaches (stratigraphic, petrological, geophysical, modelling), but also follows temporally the 79 CE eruptive and depositional events, from the magma chamber to the most distal tephras. This has allowed us first to compile a full database of all findings of those deposits, then to relate the products (the deposits) to the genetic thermomechanical processes (the eruption), and lastly to better assess both the local and regional impacts of the 79 CE eruption in the environment. This information leads to a number of open issues (e.g., regional environmental impact vs. local pyroclastic current impact) that are worthy of further investigations, although the 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius is one of the best studied eruptions in volcanology. The structure of the work follows three macro-categories, the historical aspects, the products, and the processes of the 79 CE eruption. For each investigation approach (from stratigraphy to modelling), all dedicated studies and original data are discussed. The open issues are then synthesized in the discussion under a global view of Plinian eruptions, from the magma setting to its dispersion as pyroclasts flowing on the surface vs. falling from the volcanic plume. In this way, a lesson from the past, in particular from the well-studied 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius, will be of help for a better synchronization of processes and products in future developments. Lastly, various aspects for volcanic hazard assessment of Plinian eruptions are highlighted from the tephra distribution and modelling points of view, as these large natural phenomena can have a larger impact than previously thought, also at other active volcanoes.
... The south-easterly trend of the AD 79 products appears to be anomalous, because the eruption is conventionally believed to have occurred on August 24, when its southeast dispersive trend falls in a transitional period from the summer to autumnal wind regimes [11]. In fact, the AD 79 tephra dispersive direction toward the southeast is not in agreement with the June-August high-altitude wind directions in the region that are rather toward the west. ...
... This poses serious doubt about the date of the eruption and the mismatch raises the hypothesis that the eruption occurred in the Autumnal climatic period (October), when high-altitude winds were also blowing toward the southeast. New archaeological findings presented in the [11] study definitively place the date of eruption in the Autumn (October), in good agreement with the prevailing high-altitude wind directions above Somma-Vesuvius ( [11]; references therein). ...
... This poses serious doubt about the date of the eruption and the mismatch raises the hypothesis that the eruption occurred in the Autumnal climatic period (October), when high-altitude winds were also blowing toward the southeast. New archaeological findings presented in the [11] study definitively place the date of eruption in the Autumn (October), in good agreement with the prevailing high-altitude wind directions above Somma-Vesuvius ( [11]; references therein). ...
... As a matter of fact, pyroclastic fall products of high VEI eruptions of Somma Vesuvio are mainly spread towards the NE, and in the past 25 ka no plinian column was diverted towards the NW from the volcano. By simulating explosive events and investigating the wind directions, Barberi et al. (1990), Cioni et al. (2003), Rolandi et al. (2007), Macedonio et al. (2008), Daniele et al. (2009) and Rolandi (2010) reach almost the same conclusion: prevailing winds at the higher altitudes blow from the W, as a consequence a possible future plinian event most probably will spread its products in the eastern sectors from the volcano and they would therefore spare Napoli. Daniele et al. (2009), however, prove the high variability of wind fields in the lowermost layers of atmosphere, and from this consideration descend the conclusion that a possible future violent strombolian-subplinian event, displaying column heights lower than those of a plinian eruption, could endanger Napoli city. ...
... As previously stated in the introductory section Napoli was somewhat spared by pyroclastic fall products of plinian events occurred at Somma Vesuvio in the last 25 ka. The influence of wind on the direction of main dispersal axis was investigated for plinian, sub-plinian and violent strombolian eruptions (Barberi et al., 1990;Cioni et al., 2003;Rolandi et al., 2007;Macedonio et al., 2008;Rolandi, 2010). Prevailing winds blow mainly from west throughout the entire year for altitudes of up to 20 km. ...
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The possible emplacement of pyroclastic fall and flow products from Campi Flegrei and Somma-Vesuvio represents a threat for the population living in Napoli city. For this area, the volcanic hazard was always partially investigated to define the hazard related to the Campi Flegrei or to the Somma-Vesuvio activity one at a time. A new volcanic hazard and risk assessment, at the municipality scale, as a vital tool for decision-making about territorial management and future planning, is presented here. In order to assess the hazard related to the explosive activity of both sources, we integrated the results of field studies and numerical simulations, to evaluate the future possibility for Napoli to be hit by the products of an explosive eruption. This is defined for the Somma Vesuvio central volcano through the sum of "field frequency" based on the thickness and distribution of past deposits (Lirer et al., 2001), and for the Campi Flegrei volcanic field by suitably processing simulated events based on numerical modelling (Alberico et al., 2002; Costa et al., 2009). Aiming at volcanic risk assessment, the hazard areas were joined with the exposure map, considered for our purposes as the economical value of artefacts exposed to hazard. We defined four risk classes, and argued that the medium and low-very low risk classes have the largest extent in Napoli municipality, whereas only few zones located in the eastern part of the city and in the westernmost coastal area show a high risk, owing to the correspondence of high economical value and high hazard.
... And it is from those times that we have the first documentation of the destruction of villages situated on the slopes of the volcano. This destruction was caused by a plinian eruption of the Somma volcano (Rolandi et al. 1993a(Rolandi et al. , 2007Mastrolorenzo et al. 2006) dated at about 3,700 ybp and known as the Avellino eruption. Since 3,700 ybp, three other plinian and sub-plinian-type eruptions have occurred (79, 472, and 1631 AD) covering the Ancient, Medieval, and Recent historic times. ...
... Four inter-plinian activity periods have been documented: Proto-historic, Ancient Historic, Medieval, Recent Historic (Rolandi et al. 2007). The best-documented interplinian activity is the Recent Historic, which occurred after the 1631 AD inter-plinian eruption, during which short periods of eruptive cycles are clearly distinguishable, known as Vesuvian Cycles (Pesce and Rolandi 1994). ...
Article
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The volcano Vesuvius presents a most serious hazard in terms of human and property risk considering that there are at least 600,000 people exposed on its slopes, according to the figures given by the Italian Civil Defense Authority (DPC), on which the present Risk Zones delimitation is based. The DPC has divided the territory around Vesuvius into three zones: The Red Zone, the area with the highest hazard and volcanic risk due to pyroclastic flows; the Yellow Zone, the area affected by the risk of fall-out deposits; and the Blue Zone, the area prone to mud flow and lahar deposits. The DPC, in its official documents, states that administrative rather than scientific criteria was used to delimit such risk zones because of logistic and operative needs related to the emergency plan management. We question the decision of the DPC and present the scientific criteria, which should be used to delimit the volcanic risk zones and suggest changes that are necessary for the protection of the inhabitants at risk.
... The most recent pyroclastic deposits belong to Recent Pyroclastic Complex (RPC), coming from the Mount Somma eruptions: Sarno, dated 17 k-year (Rolandi et al, 2000), Ottaviano, dated 8 k-year (Rolandi et al, 1993a), Avellino, dated 3.76 k-year (Rolandi et al, 1993b). Products of RPC are also historical eruptions of Vesuvius: 79 AD (Rolandi et al, 2007), 472 AD (Rolandi et al, 2004) and 1631 AD (Rosi et al, 1993) and also the subsequent eruptions, of minor importance for the volume of erupted material, the last of which occurred in 1944. ...
... The sequence is interrupted by typical deposits that are the result of pyroclastic flows and pyroclastic surge mechanisms due to a collapse of the Plinian column. The dispersion axis of this eruption, oriented SE, is considered by the authors to be unusual probably because of the wind direction and speed (relatively high) and the height reached by the Plinian column, that is the main factor affecting the distribution of tephra (Rolandi et at., 2007). ...
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Rainfall-induced debris flows involving ash-fall pyroclastic deposits covering steep mountain slopes that surround the Somma-Vesuvius volcano, are natural events representing the main cause of risk for urban settlements located at footslopes. The presented research was based on the review of the wide scientific literature and was aimed to the improvement of some crucial aspects regarding the initiation of debris flows by means of field and laboratory experimental methods and modelling applied in representative sample areas of the Sarno Mountain Range, where deadly flow-like landslides initiated on May 5th - 6th 1998. Detailed stratigraphic and topographic surveys carried out in three representative initiation areas led to recognise that, depending on the slope angle, ash-fall pyroclastic deposits are discontinuously distributed along slopes, showing a total thickness that varies from a maximum value recognisable in the slope angle range lower than 30° up to be negligible for slope angle values greater than 50°, thus being strongly related to bedrock morphology itself. This distribution influences stratigraphical setting of ash-fall pyroclastic mantle leading to a downward thinning up to pinch out of pyroclastic horizons. Three fundamental quantitative engineering geological models were identified, in which the most part of the initial landslides occurred in May 1998 can be classified: i) knickpoints, characterised by a downward progressive thinning of pyroclastic mantle; ii) rocky scarps, identified as causing an abrupt interruption of pyroclastic mantle; iii) road cuts in pyroclastic mantle, whereas they occur in a critical slope angle range. Coupled geotechnical and saturated/unsaturated hydraulic characterisations of pyroclastic soils, led to the hydro-mechanical modelling of slope stability in the initiation areas. Results demonstrated that initial instabilities of pyroclastic mantle can occur without a hydraulic contribution from the carbonate bedrock, therefore critical increase of pore pressure derives from the infiltration and throughflow processes. Finally, the hydro-mechanical modelling of slope stability permitted the deterministic definition of intensity/duration hydrological thresholds.
... The activity of Monte Somma has been characterized by a series of sub-Plinian and Plinian eruptions alternating with long quiescent periods lasting from centuries to millennia, followed by periods of semipersistent activity characterized by lava effusions and low-energy explosive eruptions in the past 4 kyr. The Plinian AD 79 eruption [121] broke a long period of quiescence and represented one of better-known devastating events in the Mt. Vesuvius history. ...
... Somma caldera possibly after this eruption. After it, the volcano featured two sub-plinian events in AD 472 and 1631 [121]. Throughout the following centuries, Vesuvius activity was characterized by periods of open-conduit activity with the alternating strombolian activity with violent eruptions. ...
Chapter
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The fumarolic mineralogy of the Icelandic active volcanoes, the Tyrrhenian volcanic belt (Italy) and the Aegean active arc (Greece) is investigated, and literature data surveyed in order to define the characteristics of the European fumarolic systems. They show broad diversity of mineral associations, with Vesuvius and Vulcano being also among the world localities richest in mineral species. Volcanic systems, which show recession over a longer period, show fumarolic development from the high-temperature alkaline halide/sulphate, calcic sulphate or sulphidic parageneses, synchronous with or immediately following the eruptions, through medium-temperature ammonium minerals, metal chlorides, or fluoride associations to the late low-temperature paragenesis dominated by sulphur, gypsum, alunogen, and other hydrous sulphates. The situation can be different in the systems that are not recessing but show fluctuations in activity, illustrated by the example of Vulcano where the high-temperature association appears intermittently. A full survey of the mineral groups and species is given in respect to their importance and appearance in fumarolic associations.
... It is now in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples. 5 The date given in the manuscripts is August 24, but archaeological evidence, including wind direction and the fruits and other vegetable remains found in Pompeii, suggests a date in autumn(Rolandi et al. 2007). ...
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Ancient Greek and Roman records contain many references to natural disasters. Analyzing the immediate reactions to the events, as well as the ensuing responses, is only possible where there is dependable evidence. Two case studies offer eyewitness accounts of disaster, as well as archaeological and scientific studies. These are the plague that struck Athens in 430 BCE during the Peloponnesian War, described by Thucydides who witnessed and suffered from it, and the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, recorded in letters by Pliny the Younger, who saw it and fled from it during its height. The victims of these disasters were plunged into confusion and uncertainty about what to do to survive. In many cases, social cohesion dissolved, and individuals broke norms and traditions. Some sought help from the gods, and others felt there were no gods. In the aftermath, leaders responded with measures intended to help people, restore the body politic, and rebuild. Although frustrated by physical and social barriers, they achieved a degree of success. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. All rights are reserved.
... Studies of tephra distributions from the eruptions of Somma-Vesuvius over the past 25 ka have revealed a series of eight distinct tephra lobes that cover different areas and that have dispersed in different directions from the vent, with the AD 79 eruption covering the largest area. The different distribution patterns have been attributed to seasonal changes in high-altitude wind directions and changes between plinian and sub-plinian activity in the volcanic complex (Rolandi et al., 2008). ...
Article
The Upper Silurian/Lower Devonian Old Red Sandstone of the southwest Wales is dominated by fluvial sediments deposited in a mud-rich, low gradient, dryland setting that, apart from rare finds of fish head shields and spines, is lacking in fossil fauna. The Moor Cliffs Formation contains several fine-grained tuff horizons that act as regional markers for correlation, three of these are substantial in thickness (0.5–4 m), laterally persistent and contain abundant trace fossils. The tuffs record sudden volcanic events associated with the convergence of Avalonia with Laurentia, possibly accompanied by tsunami. The trace fossils preserved on the tops of individual falls include the locally profuse development of ovoid faecal pellets in close association with the tops of trumpet-shaped burrows. Surfaces also preserve arthropod locomotion and foraging traces (Palmichnium antarcticum, Diplopodichnus biformis, rare Cruziana sp., and bilobed trails). Vertical and horizontal burrows (Beaconites antarcticus) are common. Other traces found are microbially generated wrinkle marks (mat grounds) and “cauliflower” structures. Traces in the tuffs record a greater diversity of faunal activity than that observed in the encasing dryland environment sediments and indicate a possible preservational bias provided by deposition of the air fall tuffs or colonization of the tuff deposits by opportunist populations following phytoplankton blooms associated with the volcanic events. They remain the main indicators of biodiversity in this relatively fossil-poor continental stratigraphic interval.
... Furthermore, volcanic sulfate deposition values for the corresponding event show a strong spatial gradient over Greenland with highest values in northwest Greenland 16 and lowest in central and south Greenland 65 , favouring the attribution of a volcanic source from the high latitudes. Documentary sources (Supplementary Data 2) also suggest that the main vector of ash transport following the Vesuvius 79 CE eruption was towards the eastern Mediterranean 66 . ...
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Volcanic eruptions contribute to climate variability, but quantifying these contributions has been limited by inconsistencies in the timing of atmospheric volcanic aerosol loading determined from ice cores and subsequent cooling from climate proxies such as tree rings. Here we resolve these inconsistencies and show that large eruptions in the tropics and high latitudes were primary drivers of interannual-to-decadal temperature variability in the Northern Hemisphere during the past 2,500 years. Our results are based on new records of atmospheric aerosol loading developed from high-resolution, multi-parameter measurements from an array of Greenland and Antarctic ice cores as well as distinctive age markers to constrain chronologies. Overall, cooling was proportional to the magnitude of volcanic forcing and persisted for up to ten years after some of the largest eruptive episodes. Our revised timescale more firmly implicates volcanic eruptions as catalysts in the major sixth-century pandemics, famines, and socioeconomic disruptions in Eurasia and Mesoamerica while allowing multi-millennium quantification of climate response to volcanic forcing.
... At times the author provides irrelevant touristy details (e.g. the inscription celebrating emperor Titus' 'good bowel movement in Herculaneum', p. 42) or indulges in clichés ('Roman heroes obviously knew how to behave in the face of great danger', p. 65). The recent and convincing hypothesis (Rolandi et al. 2007) of a winter -rather than summer -eruption in AD 79 is regrettably ignored. The information provided is otherwise accurate and upto-date. ...
... The northern slope of Mount Albino is about 400 ha in area and encompasses 10 mountain catchments (Figure 1(b)). It is located in the geological context labelled A1 by Cascini, Ferlisi, and Vitolo (2008) (Figure 1(a)) where late Pleistocene-Holocene pyroclastic cover beds, deriving from the explosive activity of Somma-Vesuvius and Phlegraean Fields volcanic complexes (De Vita, Napolitano, Godt, & Baum, 2012;Rolandi, Paone, Di Lascio, & Stefani, 2007), mantle a Mesozoic calcareous bedrock (Bonardi et al., 2009;Di Nocera, Matano, Pescatore, Pinto, & Torre, 2011). ...
Article
The paper presents a method for estimating and mapping – at detailed scale (1:5000) – the thickness of pyroclastic cover beds resting on calcareous bedrock. This method, tested in the study area of Mount Albino (Campania region, southern Italy), makes use mainly of information gathered from in situ investigations, managed and processed in a geographical information system environment via a geostatistical interpolation technique (i.e. ordinary kriging) and finally integrated and amended by adopting a heuristic approach. Given its easy applicability and affordable costs, the proposed method can be used in similar geological contexts where knowledge of the spatial distribution of pyroclastic cover beds is a requirement for understanding and predicting slope instability processes.
... An important addition to this diverse mix of minerals is 149 derived from volcanic ash, which was transported from the southeast by winds during the Plinian 150 and other volcanic eruptions (e.g. Rolandi et al., 2008). The deposition of volcanic ash has 151 weathered to form a relatively abundant supply of montmorillonite clays. ...
Article
The Misa River on the Italian Adriatic coast, is typical of the rivers that drain the Apennine Mountain range. The focus of this study, conducted in the late summer of 2013 and mid-winter of 2014, was to contrast the general wintertime-summertime dynamics in the Misa River estuarine system rather than investigate specific dynamical features (e.g. offshore sediment transport, channel seiche, and flocculation mechanisms). Summertime conditions of the Misa River estuary are characterized by low freshwater discharge and net sediment deposition whereas, in the wintertime, the Misa River and estuary is characterized by high episodic freshwater discharge and net erosion and sediment export. Major observed differences between wintertime-summertime dynamics in the Misa River and estuary are a result of seasonal-scale differences in regional precipitation and forcing conditions driven largely by the duration and intensity of prevailing wind patterns that frequently change direction in summertime while keep almost constant directions for much longer periods in wintertime, thus generating major sea storms. Sediment deposition was observed in the final reach of the Misa River and estuary in the summertime. However, in the wintertime, large flood events led to sediment erosion and export in the final reach of the Misa River and estuary that, in conjunction with storm-wave-induced mud transport, led to sediment deposition at the river entrance and in the adjacent nearshore region. The seasonal cyclic pattern of erosion and deposition was confirmed with bathymetric surveys of the final reach of the estuarine region. A critical component for the balance between summertime deposition and wintertime erosion was the presence of an underlying mat of organic deposits that limited the availability of sediments for erosion in winter, when massive debris transport occurs. Further, suspended cohesive sediments flocs were subjected to smaller hydrodynamic stresses in the summertime favoring deposition within the estuary. Conversely, during wintertime storms, flocs were subjected to larger hydrodynamic stresses favoring breakup into smaller flocs favoring deposition outside the estuary.
... 35 The sixth and final surge, which killed the elder Pliny at Stabiae on the second day of the eruption, came within about 1 km of the ancient walls of Neapolis (Fig. II). 36 As one progresses south-southeast, perpendicular to the outer border of the surge, the edges of the five previous surges are 31 Ruggiero (1879), 3, 15-20; Mau (1890), 282; Pappalardo (1990), 210-211;Renna (1992), 107-112;Guidoboni, Comastri and Traina (1994), 224;Savino (2004a); Borgognino andStefani (2001-2002); Stefani (2006); Rolandi et al. (2008). 32 Sigurdsson, Cashdollar and Sparks (1982); Sigurdsson et al. (1985); Pescatore and Sigurdsson (1993); Giacomelli et al. (2003). ...
Article
Looking westward from Pompeii and Herculaneum, this paper examines the effects that geological upheavals – particularly earthquakes and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 – had on the city and territory of Neapolis, just a few miles from the centers of disaster. Equal attention is given to literary and epigraphic sources on the one hand, and to geological research on the other.
... The date given in the manuscripts is August 24, but archaeological evidence, including wind direction and the fruits and other vegetable remains found in Pompeii, suggests a date in autumn(Rolandi, Paone, Di Lascio and Stefani, 2007). ...
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The Mediterranean area is the unstable meeting place of several of the Earth's moving tectonic plates; earthquakes are common, as are sporadic volcanic eruptions of various kinds and intensities, from the explosion of the island of Thera in the seventeenth century BCE to the relatively constant rumblings, smoking, and lava flows of Mount Etna. It was not that Romans were ignorant of volcanoes. Mount Etna on Sicily smoked almost all the time and coughed up lava fairly often, and islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea such as Vulcano and Stromboli put on a good show as well. The disaster hit without any definite warning; Pliny the Younger notes that there were tremors for days before the eruption, but no one took them seriously because they occurred frequently around the area. Indeed, a strong shock in 62 CE, a few months after his birth, had devastated Pompeii and other places, without an eruption.
... Tephrostratigraphical correlation of the Adriatic sequences and the Monticchio record for matching key volcanic events revealed the presence of many tephra layers in several central Adriatic cores, including the Agnano Monte Spina-AMST in the core RF95-11 (located NE away from the coast compared with core RF93-30; Figure 7 in Lowe et al., 2007). This was in agreement with the more common east-northeast autumn-winter dispersion of pyroclastic deposits from the Somma-Vesuvius (Rolandi et al., 2007). The AMST predates the AT and have an estimated age ranging from c. 5000 cal yr BP to c. 4300 cal yr BP (Zanchetta et al., 2012), with several eruptions in the Agnano-San Vito area for a few centuries before the main AMS eruption (Iovine et al., 2017). ...
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The high-resolution Adriatic RF93-30 core shows changes in its microcharcoal record, which correlate to terrestrial fires from the last 7000 years. Pollen and microcharcoals were transported by wind and fluvial transport from the sedimentary basin, including the Po River and other rivers flowing into the sea off the Italian east coast. Charcoal particles and pollen were counted in the same samples, and the maximum breadth and length of charcoal particles were measured. Microcharcoals with large dimensions were taken as fire indicators occurring along the near coast, as they probably arrived from short distances, the nearest being in Apulia, in southern Italy. The age–depth model was developed within the multidisciplinary PALICLAS project. Several potential fire activity increases (PFAIs) were visible as peaks in the diagram. The oldest PFAIs occurred at the middle Holocene (approximately dated to c. 6730, 5430, 4150 cal BP), others occurred at the late Holocene (c. 3760, 2660, 2240, 2030, 1930, 1510 cal BP) and during the last millennium (c. 900–865, 530, 120–96 cal BP). The two oldest peaks in the diagram, occurring in the 7th–6th millennia, showed the highest contribution of charcoal corresponding to the highest values of arboreal pollen (AP) in the sedimentary record. Although the CHAR peaks did not represent a single fire event, the diagram suggests a good correspondence between paleofire activity and terrestrial vegetation biomass during this early phase. Pollen containing black particles was observed, which suggested some grains were transported in suspension with winds from burned woods. The main unambiguous anthropogenic fire causation would have occurred during the last four millennia. From 4.2 ka, it became hard to disentangle climate and Bronze Age actions. Technology and human activity probably improved the pace of fire events, especially involving oak woods, with evidence of an increase of CHAR during the last millennium.
... This latter suggestion of November as the month of the AD 79 eruption in which Pompeii and other settlements were destroyed, has been accepted by some archaeologists, also for the finding of a coin (Stefani 2006) of which the date of issue was later debated and considered not very legible. The discussion concerning the exact date of eruption continued and especially the August date has been challenged by volcanologists/meteorologists, who moved the time of the eruption further into the autumn when analysing the high altitude winds and the distribution of ash by these winds (Rolandi et al. 2007). After this evidence and re-examination of ancient writings most scientists and archaeologists eventually agreed to the final date of 23 to 25 October (Angela 2014). ...
Article
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The time of the Vesuvius eruption, which perished Pompeii, Herculaneum and surrounding areas in ad 79, was initially set on the 24–25 August, based on written contemporary documents of the ancient historian Pliny the Younger. This date has been challenged by archaeologists and volcanologists/meteorologists, who moved the time of the eruption further into the autumn and eventually agreed to the final date 23–25 October. The October date has been confirmed by the latest discovery of inscriptions in freshly excavated areas of Pompeii suggesting the mid-late October eruption. In our original project of 2008 we attempted to solve the problem of the eruption time by analysing pollen mixed with falling down volcanic ash, and preserved intact in nasal cavities of the victims in Pompeii. The entire pollen spectrum, 31 different types, was evaluated with the focus on the exact time of the volcanic eruption. No date of eruption could be suggested from this study. The analysis revealed an unusually high amount of pollen from Hedera, an insect pollinated plant flowering from September to October in the area of Pompeii. Among three samples of ash from nasal cavities of two children and an adult considered uncontaminated Hedera pollen was found in noses of both children but not of the adult. This result is the first physical proof of Hedera as medicinal plant used for the treatment of respiratory tract disorders nearly 2000 years ago.
... The unit varies from 0 to 15 cm in thickness (Fig. 1c) and blankets the flanks of the volcano. After a small column collapse event generated a poorly dispersed PDC (EU1pf, Cioni et al., 2000), the sustained activity increased in intensity and a much higher ∼25–30 km plume formed (Fig. 1b), was carried south-east by stratospheric winds (Rolandi et al., 2008), and deposited EU2 pumice hundreds of kilometers from the eruptive center (Sigurdsson et al., 1985). EU2 is ≤140 cm thick at the base of Vesuvius (Cioni et al., 1992), thins outward and then thickens again (N100 cm) towards the Sorrento peninsula (Sigurdsson et al., 1985; Fig. 1a, c). ...
Article
Vesicle populations in volcanic pumice provide a partial record of shallow magma ascent and degassing. Here we compare pumice textures from the well-characterized 79AD Vesuvius eruption to those generated during isothermal decompression experiments. Three series of experiments were conducted using starting material from the first two phases of the eruption (eruptive units EU1 and EU2). Samples were decompressed from 100 or 150 MPa to final pressures of 10–25 MPa using conditions appropriate for simulating eruption conditions (T = 850 °C, dP/dT = 0.25 MPa/s). The experiments differed not only in starting material but also in temperature at which samples were annealed prior to decompression, which determined the initial number of crystals present in the melt. Results show that experiments approach the vesicle number densities and sizes of pumice samples, but show narrower size distributions. The wider size range of pumice samples suggests continuous, rather than instantaneous nucleation, which may reflect non-linear rates of decompression. All experiments exhibited equilibrium degassing, a process that was probably aided by heterogeneous bubble nucleation on oxide microlites. We conclude that delayed bubble nucleation cannot explain the explosivity of the Vesuvius eruption, which instead appears to require high rates of magma decompression.
... Campania Campania, Italy has a population of 5.8 m inhabitants, includes Italy's third largest city (Napoli), and to active volcano Vesuvius. With eight Plinian eruptions in the last 25,000 years and 32 confirmed eruption in the last 1000 years [25], further eruptions in the near future are likely. The potential damage associated with a large eruption of Vesuvius is severe. ...
Preprint
Background: Natural disasters and infectious diseases are global issues, resulting in widespread disruption to human health and livelihood. At the scale of a global pandemic, the co-occurrence of natural disasters is inevitable. However, the impact of natural disasters on the spread of COVID-19 has not been extensively evaluated using agent based epidemiology models. Methods: We create an agent-based epidemiology model based on both COVID-19 clinical and epidemiological data and geographic data. We first model 35 scenarios with varying natural disaster timing and duration for a COVID-19 outbreak in a theoretical region. We then evaluate the potential effect of an eruption of Vesuvius volcano on the spread of COVID-19 in Campania, Italy. Our objective is to determine if the occurrence of a natural disaster during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to increase infection cases and disease related fatalities. Results: In a majority of cases, the occurrence of a natural disaster increases the number of disease related fatalities. When the natural disaster occurs at the beginning of the outbreak within a given region, there is little to no increase in the progression of disease spread. However, the occurrence of a natural disaster close to the peak of infections may increase the number of fatalities by more than five-fold. In a theoretical test case, for a natural disaster that occurred fifty days after first infection case, the median increase in fatalities is 2%, 59%, and 180% for a 2, 14, and 31-day long natural disaster respectively, when compared to the no natural disaster scenario. Conclusion: We propose that the compound risk from natural disasters is greatest in the case of already widespread disease outbreak. The key risk factors for increase in spread of infection and disease related fatalities are the timing of the natural disaster relative to the peak in infections and the duration of the natural disaster.
... The temperature of magmatic gas and of volcanic particles was set to 850 °C, which is compatible with the 79 AD eruption composition 19 . Air temperature www.nature.com/scientificreports/ was set to 18 °C, which is a reasonable value for the Somma-Vesuvius area at sea level in the autumn season 20 . Average density was set to 1700 kg/m 3 for the volcanic particles, to 0.2 kg/m 3 for volcanic gas at 850 °C and to 1.2 kg/m 3 for air at 18 °C, respectively. ...
Article
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Pyroclastic density currents are ground hugging gas-particle flows that originate from the collapse of an eruption column or lava dome. They move away from the volcano at high speed, causing devastation. The impact is generally associated with flow dynamic pressure and temperature. Little emphasis has yet been given to flow duration, although it is emerging that the survival of people engulfed in a current strongly depends on the exposure time. The AD 79 event of Somma-Vesuvius is used here to demonstrate the impact of pyroclastic density currents on humans during an historical eruption. At Herculaneum, at the foot of the volcano, the temperature and strength of the flow were so high that survival was impossible. At Pompeii, in the distal area, we use a new model indicating that the current had low strength and low temperature, which is confirmed by the absence of signs of trauma on corpses. Under such conditions, survival should have been possible if the current lasted a few minutes or less. Instead, our calculations demonstrate a flow duration of 17 min, long enough to make lethal the breathing of ash suspended in the current. We conclude that in distal areas where the mechanical and thermal effects of a pyroclastic density currents are diminished, flow duration is the key for survival.
... Moreover, the deposition of volcanic ash, transported from the southeast by winds during the Plinian and other volcanic eruptions (e.g. Rolandi et al., 2008), has added an abundant quantity of montmorillonite clays to this mix of minerals. Sediment cores, collected by Favali et al. (1995) in the alluvial layers underlying the town of Senigallia, displayed layers of muddy sediments, interspersed with gravel, all of which overlie the bedrock of fractured and faulted mud-, silt-and sandstone. ...
Article
We conducted, for the first time, a study of the long-term evolution of an inner mouth bar in a microtidal environment that complements field observations with detailed numerical modelling of the same morphodynamics. Images collected by a video-monitoring station, from 2016 to 2019, were processed to study the evolution of a persistent inner mouth bar formed inside the highly engineered Misa River estuary (Senigallia, Italy) after years of reduced precipitation and discharges. We developed a semi-automatic procedure to detect the emerged area of this deposit. We seek to quantify the relationship between the long-term evolution of the bar and the forcing from the river, waves and tides. The observed high peaks in river discharge caused a strong downriver bar migration (i.e. almost twice the river width). Conversely, the observed sea storms produced an upriver bar migration smaller than one river width. A much slower and weaker (less than half the river width) upriver migration was also observed during periods of large area accretion and due to mild wave climate. Moreover, results showed that the sea water level variation did not directly impact the morphodynamics of the estuary, affecting the emerged portion of the bar only. Numerical simulations, run with Delft3D, were used to complete the information coming from field observations. After some checks on the proper use of the solver for the scenarios and environments of interest, some parametric simulations were run to highlight the role of the different forcing on the bed evolution. Simulations showed, as expected, erosion of the riverbed and significant downriver migrations (four river widths) during peaks of river discharge comparable to the 1-year return period discharges. Numerical results also showed upriver sediment transport when the wave forcing was dominant, with 10-years return period waves inducing an upriver bar migration in the order of one river width. Then, one real-life event was simulated to inspect the interaction of the various forcing and to compare their effects with the observations. Our analysis provides new insight into the complex morphodynamics in a microtidal estuary when weak river discharge is opposed by sea waves driving upriver sediment transport. A more thorough understanding of the morphodynamics is needed for future forecasting of the formation and evolution of sediment deposits inside estuarine channels that can inhibit both navigation and the flux of sediment from the river to the estuary.
... We use a real-world natural disaster, the eruption of Vesuvius. The key mitigation strategy for a volcanic eruption at Vesuvius is a timely evacuation [33,34], for which evacuation plans have been designed [29]. This disaster response results in widespread population displacement -a key risk factor in disease spread [2]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Natural disasters and infectious diseases result in widespread disruption to human health and livelihood. At the scale of a global pandemic, the co-occurrence of natural disasters is inevitable. However, the impact of natural disasters on the spread of COVID-19 has not been extensively evaluated through epidemiological modelling. Methods We create an agent-based epidemiology model based on COVID-19 clinical, epidemiological, and geographic data. We first model 35 scenarios with varying natural disaster timing and duration for a COVID-19 outbreak in a theoretical region. We then evaluate the potential effect of an eruption of Vesuvius volcano on the spread of COVID-19 in Campania, Italy. Results In a majority of cases, the occurrence of a natural disaster increases the number of disease related fatalities. For a natural disaster fifty days after infection onset, the median increase in fatalities is 2, 59, and 180% for a 2, 14, and 31-day long natural disaster respectively, when compared to the no natural disaster scenario. For the Campania case, the median increase in fatalities is 1.1 and 2.4 additional fatalities per 100,000 for eruptions on day 1 and 100 respectively, and 60.0 additional fatalities per 100,000 for an eruption close to the peak in infections (day 50). Conclusion Our results show that the occurrence of a natural disaster in most cases leads to an increase in infection related fatalities, with wide variance in possible outcomes depending on the timing of the natural disaster relative to the peak in infections and the duration of the natural disaster.
... The fame of Pompeii and Herculaneum is due to the catastrophic volcanic eruption, whose dating was recently re-assessed to October of 79 CE based on new epigraphic testimonies, archaeological finds and volcanological data [46][47][48]. The details of the sequence of relevant disastrous events consequent to the Vesuvian eruption have been handed down to us by Pliny the Younger, the nephew of Pliny the Elder-an important Roman writer and naturalist, as well as the admiral of the Roman fleet. ...
Article
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There is no doubt that the cultural and urban environments contributed to the animal–human interaction in the daily life of the ancient Roman world. The singularity of the circumstances of the burial of Pompeii and Herculaneum, together with literary sources and the extraordinary state of preservation of the archaeological and biological material found, has provided researchers with an opportunity, unique in its kind, to reconstruct the life and ways of living of its inhabitants. This study illustrates the main drivers and mechanisms for the distribution and transmission of zoonotic diseases in these ancient Roman populations, such as (i) the large number and role that different animal species played in the ancient Roman world; (ii) the environmental conditions for the survival of parasites, pathogens and vectors; (iii) the great variety and intensity of commercial activities and occupations that presented certain risks of infections; (iv) the absence of adequate safety controls during processing, distribution and preservation of foodstuffs in unsuitable environments and some culinary habits; (v) the inadequate mechanisms of the disposal of human waste and the biotic contamination of watercourses and reservoirs; and finally (vi) the use of animals related to religious and cultural practices.
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This chapter traces the history of ancient Naples from the Samnite Wars to the sack of Sulla. Particular nodes of interest are the Second Samnite War, when Naples established a treaty with Rome; the Second Punic War, throughout which Naples, unusually for a city in this region, remained allied to the Romans; and the poorly documented campaign of Sulla in 82 BCE, when the city evidently was sacked for the first and only time in classical antiquity.
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The early history of Naples is traced, from prehistory to the eve of the Samnite Wars. Founded on recent archaeological discoveries and a close reading of the texts documenting the city's founding, this chapter presents a fresh interpretation of the motives and events underlying the Greek foundation of the earliest mainland colony on the Bay of Naples, Parthenope, the subsequent founding of Neapolis nearby, and the arrival of the Athenians at Neapolis in the mid-fifth century BCE. The Samnite invasion of the 420s BCE, and its influence over the subsequent development and ethnic identity of Neapolis, is also considered.
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In the Roman Imperial period, Naples gradually waned as a commercial and maritime power but gained influence as the greatest repository of Greek culture and traditions in the Roman West. This chapter analyzes the city's legacy as a center of literature, Greek athletics, performance, oratory, and visual arts.
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The coinage of Greek Naples is examined from the beginning of minting, perhaps in the 460s BCE, to the early third century. Particular attention is given to the iconography that appears on Neapolitan coins and its relationships to local history, cults, and identity.
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This chapter documents the history of Naples from the late Roman Republic through the Imperial period. After the sack of Sulla and a period of instability during the later Civil Wars, the city settled into a pattern of prosperity and quietude broken only by the natural disasters of the first century CE, punctuated by the eruption of Vesuvius. Naples was privileged to continue operating on a superficially Greek model, as abundant epigraphic evidence indicates.
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Historical sources have recorded earthquake shocks, their effects and difficulties that local inhabitants experienced before the AD 79 Pompeii eruption. Archaeological studies pointed out the effects of such seismicity, and have also evidenced that several water crises were occurring at Pompeii in that period. Indeed numerous sources show that, at the time of eruption, and probably some time before, the civic aqueduct, having ceased to be supplied by the regional one, was out of order and that a new one was being built. Since Roman aqueducts were usually built with a recommended minimum mean slope of 20 cm/km and Pompeii's aqueduct sloped from the nearby Apennines toward the town, this slope could have been easily cancelled by uplift that occurred in the area even if this was only moderate.For the crustal deformations a volcanic origin is proposed and a point source model is used to explain the observations. Simple analysis of the available data suggests that the ground deformations were caused by a < 2 km3 volumetric change at a depth of ∼ 8 km that happened over the course of several decades.
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The history of ancient Naples is intertwined with its interaction with water, both as a seaport and an administrative center of thermal bathing establishments in the Phlegraean Fields. This chapter examines the city's recently discovered Greco-Roman harbor and especially the prevalent local bathing culture, which Naples shared with Puteoli, Baiae, and Pithecusae/Ischia.
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On the basis of observations and modelling of the plume generated by the Misa River (AN, Italy), we performed a comprehensive study, which integrated different sources of information (field data, numerical simulations, etc.), of the generation and transport mechanisms of river plumes flowing into microtidal environments. First, we analysed images simultaneously acquired by both two shore-based stations and satellite to determine plume fronts and extensions. Then, we correlated such information with the estuarine forcing to recognize the plume generation and transport mechanisms. Being real-life events influenced by a combination of factors, we run numerical simulations to separately study each force and its influence on the plume evolution. We also performed simulations of two real-life cases, to compare the modelled and observed results. We identified the river discharge and the wind as the main generation and transport mechanisms, respectively. Moreover, waves could stir, suspend, and drag plume sediments, even if results showed that a river discharge associated with a return period smaller than 1 year produced a plume denser than 5-year return period waves. The transport mechanisms were responsible for the alongshore extension of the plume. The tide, even if secondarily, affected the plume evolution, depending on its phase shift to the river discharge peak. Particle Tracking Velocimetry from videos acquired by a shore-based station provided the surface velocity field in the final river stretch. This and the contributions by wind and waves were correlated with the plume extension through a power law.
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The volcanic eruptions have produced death and devastation along the ages; the victims caused by the documented events are about 260,000. Today, people subjected to volcanic risk are 500 million. They live predominantly in large conurbations, such as Tokyo, Mexico City, Seattle and Naples, which are located in the proximity of volcanoes with a high probability to erupt. Further, cause of concern is the elevated growth rates of the urban populations in the developing countries, seeing that many cities are located just above the tectonic belts where are predominantly situated the World’s most explosive volcanoes. Therefore, the volcanic risk mitigation of these areas requires a careful territorial planning together with an adequate knowledge of the behaviour of constructions under the eruption effects. The problem is very complex considering that a several number of actions (such as lavas, earthquakes, ash fall, pyroclastic flows, ballistics, landslides, tsunami and lahars) with a peculiar time–space distribution are produced by an eruptive event. Moreover, for the impact evaluation of a volcanic eruption, the time–space effect acquires a great importance, differently by the case of single catastrophic event (such as tectonic earthquakes, debris flows, etc.), since the sequence of the several exceptional actions which occur during an eruptive event, that modify the resistance characteristics of the struck constructions, in consequence, the impact damage evaluation requires analyses, step by step, of the eruptive process, the damage accumulated on the buildings and the distribution of the damage on the territory. All these aspects are examined in this paper which furnishes a useful compendium relating to the impact damage assessment produced on buildings by an explosive volcanic eruption, through the time–space variability analysis. This document organically summarizes the results of about 15 years of researches conducted by the PLINIVS Study Centre (Study Centre for the Hydrogeological, Volcanic and Seismic Engineering) with reference to the volcanic risk assessment, in the framework of the scientific literature on the topic. The paper analyses the probabilistic approaches used these days to treat Hazard, Vulnerability and Exposure in risk and impact evaluation of volcanic eruptions. Reliability of the model available is discussed; open problems and future improvement of the research in progress are highlighted. In conclusion, recommendations to follow for impact estimation studies in volcanology are reported.
Article
The reconstruction of Pompeii’s water-supply system is currently the focus of much debate. This debate is fueled by complicated and growing archaeological evidence for the water system within the town as well as three different proposed configurations of Pompeii’s aqueduct. The new synthesis of archaeological evidence presented here reveals three successive phases of piped distribution. The first, Augustan phase was altered considerably in a second phase to keep it operating, albeit with reduced supply, in the town’s last decades. At the time of the eruption of Somma-Vesuvius in 79 C.E., a wholly new, third phase was under construction. A new interpretation of the archaeological remains around Ponte Tirone shows that the water that supplied Pompeii’s distribution system came from either the Aqua Augusta or Somma-Vesuvius, but probably not from the Abella aqueduct. In addition, there is evidence in Ponte Tirone for a minimum ground uplift of approximately 30 cm on the flanks of the volcano prior to the eruption and greater deflation afterward. This uplift reduced and then stopped water supply to towns around the Bay of Naples, but whether it affected Pompeii remains unclear. This analysis further develops a new method of reconstructing past vertical ground movements via their impact on shallow-gradient, gravity-powered water systems.
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This paper reports on a quantitative estimation of the risk to residents at the toe of Mount Albino, a carbonatic relief covered by shallow deposits of pyroclastic soils, which threatens the municipality of Nocera Inferiore (southern Italy). The quantitative risk analysis (QRA) focuses on one type of mass transport phenomena typical for the context at hand, namely the hyperconcentrated flows. The methodological approach includes three main steps: hazard analysis, consequence analysis and risk estimation. Based on historical incident data, the hazard analysis makes use of a high-resolution digital terrain model and advanced models that incorporate relevant geological and geotechnical input data collected via in situ investigations and laboratory tests. The consequence analysis takes into account information on the exposed persons (age, gender) and their vulnerability. The estimated risk to life is calculated at the individual level (risk to the average and most exposed person). The reported procedure is one of the first QRA’s applications to instabilities which potentially affect natural slopes in Italy, and it was successfully used as technical basis for a public participatory process in Nocera Inferiore, designed and developed to support decisions about risk mitigation measures.
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Smelling and other sensations that are often considered solely physiological phenomena are in fact deeply influenced by culture and history, and without understanding the ancient sensory landscape, our knowledge of the past inevitably remains limited. This paper explores the olfactory nuisances in one Pompeian city block (IX,3) and its immediate neighbors. I examine the area's stenches by tracing and mapping the sources of smells, focusing on those that in previous scholarship have been considered to render ancient towns foul smelling. The analysis contests the views of malodorous Roman urban space presented in previous studies and suggests that the smellscape of urban Pompeii was not a constant reek but milder and manageable. However, the analysis also reveals that social hierarchies and power relations played a part in Pompeian odor control, and the olfactory landscape was not the same for all inhabitants.
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The original edition of Pompeii: A Sourcebook was a crucial resource for students of the site. Now updated to include material from Herculaneum, the neighbouring town also buried in the eruption of Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum: A Sourcebook allows readers to form a richer and more diverse picture of urban life on the Bay of Naples.
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Cambridge Core - Classical Archaeology - The Roman Villa in the Mediterranean Basin - edited by Annalisa Marzano
Chapter
The Roman Villa in the Mediterranean Basin - edited by Annalisa Marzano July 2018
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The scientific study of the victims of the 79 AD Vesuvius eruption began with the first discovery in the 1980s of hundreds of skeletons of people who had taken refuge in the suburban area of Herculaneum. Hundreds of human victims were found crowding the beach and a series of waterfront chambers, fixated into a final posture by the first of the deadly incoming pyroclastic currents. The towns of Herculaneum, Pompeii and other Roman settlements up to 20 kilometers away were suddenly hit and overwhelmed by successive ash-avalanches, fast moving clouds of hot volcanic ash and gases known as pyroclastic surges, capable of killing all residents who were not yet evacuated. Given the impossibility of access to the skeletal remains of the Pompeiians locked within the plaster casts and the sparse occasional finds of victims elsewhere, most of the anthropological studies focused on the victims discovered in Herculaneum. The first investigations were carried out to detect the biological and pathological features of these people. More recent multidisciplinary studies on the victims' skeletons and their volcanological context shed light on the dynamic impacts of the 79 AD Plinian eruption on the area around the volcano and on its inhabitants. The effects of the high temperatures of the surges as suffered by the remaining resident population were revealed, with crucial implications for the present-day risk of a similar outcome to around three million people living close to the volcano, including metropolitan Naples.
Article
The Campania region of southern Italy, dominated by Mount Vesuvius, is an enduring volcanic landscape which hosts a wealth of detailed information about human responses to past eruptions. This research taps into rich archaeological, geological, and historical data to bring together the past, present and future of Mount Vesuvius and the populations surrounding it. Records from the Avellino eruption (ca. 1900 BCE), and the Pompeii eruption (79 CE), their impacts, and associated social responses are examined here as two of the largest, most violent events of Vesuvius' eruptive history which impacted human populations. The social impacts of these eruptions are considered as valuable sources of information about worst-case-scenario events which should be utilized in contemporary risk management and emergency planning. The vulnerability and resilience of the Early Bronze Age and Roman societies who experienced the Avellino and Pompeii eruptions, respectively, are contrasted with potential responses of present Campanian communities to a hypothetical future eruption scenario. This work thus makes use of archaeological data from past disasters to engage with contemporary issues of emergency planning and risk management in the Vesuvius region of Southern Italy.
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The study based on detailed analysis of the Villa of the Mysteries frescoes, which were discovered early at the excavations in Pompeii. It was shown that the Villa of the Mysteries is a school of priestesses-seismologists. It is established that the frescoes depict the process of priestesses introducing in the Hera seismoacoustic cult (Zeus-Hera-Dionysus cult). It is shown that in the Hera cult the wand strike on the back of the graduate priest student symbolizes the fact of the introduction of the priestesses to the priesthood. The comparison between Pythagoras School in Crotone, Southern Italy (Temple of the Muse) and Cumaean Sibyl seismoacoustic at margin of Campi Flegrei, Gulf of Naples and school at Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii was carried out. Some caustic remarks about interpretation of Homer and Lion Hunting were written. It is shown that Archimedes’ lever principal is theoretical basis of the Roman Empire volcanology and seismology. The Archimedes’ lever principal of planet alignment was demonstrated in several examples of the large up-to-date explosive eruptions with Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) greater than 4+ (6 examples). It was noted that the Pythagoras-Plato gravitational waves (vortexes) were known in Europe since Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras. Keywords: Pompeii; Vesuvius; seismoacoustic; Archimedes’ lever; Antikythera Mechanism; planetary alignment
Chapter
An unfortunate reason for poor decisions in hazard assessments for volcanological and nuclear waste settings in Italy is the failure of scientists providing scientifically correct recommendations for action to meet their and public's needs based on neo-deterministic hazard assessment methodology, then to steadfastly act independently in the political process. In too many cases, Italian scientists have preferred to offer wrong recommendations, anchored in incorrect probabilistic hazard assessment (PHA) methodology to go along with, and even to defend, political decisions (what people want) rather than to oppose them on both scientific and ethical grounds. Politicians are not naive persons. It is legitimate on their part to select the best proffer from the scientific arsenal that is serving their interests. Not more, not less. Conversely, scientists should refrain from suggesting scientifically wrong stuff. Probabilistic hazard assessment methodology as a tool is scientifically wrong stuff to assessing low-probability high-impact events. In addition to the tragic 2009 L'Aquila Earthquake, which devastated central Italy and led to the unprecedented prosecution of six scientists and one government official for charges of professional negligence in adequately warning of risks, ongoing examples of this behavior include (a) the building of the largest civil hospital in southern Italy on the slope of the active Mt. Vesuvius; and (b) the 2004 plans to dispose of radioactive waste near the southern town of Scanzano Jonico. We discuss the striking cases of the Neapolitan active volcanoes near Naples (Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei) and also the radioactive waste disposal plan at Scanzano Jonico; wherein the support or silence of a large part of the scientific community led to the implementation and administration of PHA practices—known already now for many decades to erroneously reduce safeguards to protect populations against potential hazards. In both examples, we demonstrate why “the scientific community should help to stop using the absurd probabilistic approach, which has nothing to do with protecting the population”, stressing that the philosophy of the Neo-Deterministic Seismic Hazard Assessment methodology (Panza and Bela, 2020), should be the leading principle for the reliable assessment of the natural hazards.
Article
Mt Somma-Vesuvius is a composite volcano on the southern margin of the Campanian Plain which has been active since 39 ka BP and which poses a hazard and risk for the people living around its base. The volcano last erupted in 1944, and since this date has been in repose. As the level of volcanic risk perception is very high in the scientific community, in 1995 a hazard and risk evaluation, and evacuation plan, was published by the Italian Department of Civil Protection (Dipartimento della Protezione Civile). The plan considered the response to a worst-case scenario, taken to be a subplinian eruption on the scale of the 1631 AD eruption, and based on a volcanological reconstruction of this eruption, assumes that a future eruption will be preceded by about two weeks of ground uplift at the volcano's summit, and about one week of locally perceptible seismic activity. Moreover, by analogy with the 1631 events, the plan assumes that ash fall and pyroclastic flow should be recognized as the primary volcanic hazard. To design the response to this subplinian eruption, the emergency plan divided the Somma-Vesuvius region into three hazard zones affected by pyroclastic flows (Red Zone), tephra fall (Yellow and Green Zone), and floods (Blue Zone). The plan at present is the subject of much controversy, and, in our opinion, several assumptions need to be modified according to the following arguments: a) For the precursory unrest problem, recent scientific studies show that at present neither forecast capability is realistic, so that the assumption that a future eruption will be preceded by about two weeks of forecasts need to be modified; b) Regarding the exposure of the Vesuvius region to flow phenomena, the Red Zone presents much inconsistency near the outer border as it has been defined by the administrative limits of the eighteen municipality area lying on the volcano. As this outer limit shows no uniformity, a pressing need exists to define appropriately the flow hazard zone, since there are some important public structures not considered in the current Red Zone that could be exposed to flow risk; c) Modern wind records clearly indicate that at the time of a future eruption winds could blow not only from the west, but also from the east, so that the Yellow Zone (the area with the potential to be affected by significant tephra fall deposits) must be redefined. As a result the relationship between the Yellow Zone and Green Zone (the area within and beyond which the impact of tephra fall is expected to be insignificant) must be reconsidered mainly in the Naples area; d) The May 1998 landslide, caused in the Apennine region east of the volcano by continuous rain fall, led to the definition of a zone affected by re-mobilisation of tephra (Blue Zone), confined in the Nola valley. However, as described in the 1631 chronicles of the eruption, if generation of debris flows occurs during and after a future eruption, a much wider region east of the Somma-Vesuvius must be affected by events of this type.
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The stratigraphy of volcanic deposits is described and related to the eyewitness accounts of Pliny and Younger in chronologically reconstructing events of the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius. Initial activity took the form of a small phreatomagmatic explosion that resulted in ashfall on the volcano and to the east, probably early on 24 August. The subsequent Plinian eruption began shortly after noon. It resulted in a fall of white pumice over districts south of the volcano for about 7 hours. Following this, the continuing Plinian eruption tapped magma of more primitive composition. On 25 August the first pyroclastic surge was generated. During the next 7 hours the Plinian eruption was interrupted 6 times by surges and pyroclastic flows. The first surge overwhelmed Herculaneum where it killed all remaining residents. Later surges were of progressively greater extent, with the 4th surge reaching Pompeii at about 7 a.m. on 25 August. Shortly thereafter the 2 largest surges were produced, which affected Stabiae and Misenum. -from Authors
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A general methodology of pyroclastic fall hazard assessment is proposed on the basis of integrated results of field studies and numerical simulations. These approaches result in two different methods of assessing hazard: (1) the ``field frequency,'' based on the thickness and distribution of past deposits and (2) the ``simulated probability,'' based on the numerical modeling of tephra transport and fallout. The proposed methodology mostly applies to volcanoes that, by showing a clear correlation between the repose time and the magnitude of the following eruptions, allows the definition of a reference ``maximum expected event'' (MEE). The application to Vesuvius is shown in detail. Using the field frequency method, stratigraphic data of 24 explosive events in the 3-6 volcanic explosivity index range in the last 18,000 years of activity are extrapolated to a regular grid in order to obtain the frequency of exceedance in the past of a certain threshold value of mass loading (100, 200, 300, and 400 kg/m2). Using the simulated probability method, the mass loading related to the MEE is calculated based on the expected erupted mass (5 × 1011 kg), the wind velocity profiles recorded during 14 years, and various column heights and grain-size populations. The role of these factors was parametrically studied performing ~160,000 simulations, and the probability that mass loading exceeded the chosen threshold at each node was evaluated. As a general rule, the field frequency method results are more reliable in proximal regions, provided that an accurate database of field measurements is available. On the other hand, the simulated probability method better describes events in middle distal areas, provided that the MEE magnitude can be reliably assumed. In the Vesuvius case, the integration of the two methods results in a new fallout hazard map, here presented for a mass loading value of 200 kg/m2.
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A trachytic volcanic ash layer is widely distributed across south-western Russia, where it is found both in well-characterised archaeological contexts close to the Don River (the Paleolithic sites of Kostenki-Borschevo (51.4°N, 39.0°E), and in undisturbed geological contexts. This ash layer has all of the characteristics of a distal tephra fall deposit: it is fine grained and unimodal with a grain size of 60–170 μm, dominated by strongly elongate glass shard fragments.Chemical analysis confirms that this ash layer is a distal equivalent of the deposits of the ca 39.3 ka Campanian Ignimbrite eruption of the Phlegrean Fields, Italy, and correlates with the widely recognised Y5 ash layer in marine cores in the south-eastern Mediterranean. This work shows that ash particles can be dispersed over considerable distances (>2500 km) and areas (>1.5–3×106 km2) during large-magnitude explosive eruptions. The volume of the products associated with this event (31–50 km3 of magma erupted as fallout tephra, and a total volume of 105–210 km3 of magma, or 2.5–5×1014 kg) confirms the Campanian Ignimbrite/Y5 eruption as the most significant known volcanic eruption in Europe of the past 100 ka. This correlation places tight constraints on the absolute ages of a number of important archaeological horizons in southern Russia.
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In a.d.79, the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvio, which later was described in two famous letters by Pliny the Younger to Tacitus the Historian, destroyed Pompeii, Hercolaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae, resulting in many thousand of victims. After a few hours of the eruption, the several-kilometre-high volcanic column began to collapse, provoking strong air shocks as well as destructive pyroclastic density currents, which travelled down the volcano slopes. In 2000, an archaeological excavation survey, which was performed on the east slope of the volcano in the Terzigno–Vesuvio area at a distance of about 5km from the vent, brought to light the ruins of several Roman villas that were completely destroyed by these currents during the a.d.79 eruption. The present paper proposes a new structural analysis, which starts from the study of the damage produced on partially collapsed masonry walls, and determines the dynamic pressures of the currents that overran this site. The non-linear structural analysis, which is based on strength values obtained by means of experimental tests, is of the ''inverse type'' and takes into account the limit behaviour of the ancient Roman masonry. The values of the dynamic pressures that were capable of producing the collapse of the masonry walls were obtained by utilising a modern limit analysis theory. The obtained results show that dynamic pressures of a few kPa (1–5) were able to cause masonry buildings to collapse. These values are consistent with those proposed in some of the latest volcanological studies made by numerical simulations of pyroclastic flow propagation. It is shown here that these dynamic pressures are even able to determine the collapse of both modern reinforced concrete and masonry wall buildings that are largely present in the area. Therefore, in possible future eruptions, dynamic pressures of this magnitude would flatten a large urbanised area, where ~700,000 people are currently living. The obtained results give a better definition of both the risk to pyroclastic currents in possible Vesuvio eruptions and provide new guidelines for construction in the neighbouring zones.
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The 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius included 8 eruption units (EU1–8) and several complex transitions in eruptive style. This study focuses on two important transitions: (1) the abrupt change from white to gray pumice during the Plinian phase of the eruption (EU2 to EU3) and (2) the shift from sustained Plinian activity to the onset of caldera collapse (EU3 to EU4). Quantification of the textural features within individual pumice clasts reveals important changes in both the vesicles and groundmass crystals across each transition boundary. Clasts from the white Plinian fall deposit (EU2) present a simple story of decompression-driven crystallization followed by continuous bubble nucleation, growth and coalescence in the eruptive conduit. In contrast, pumices from the overlying gray Plinian fall deposit (EU3) are heterogeneous and show a wide range in both bubble and crystal textures. Extensive bubble growth, coalescence, and the onset of bubble collapse in pumices at the base of EU3 suggest that the early EU3 magma experienced protracted vesiculation that began during eruption of the EU2 phase and was modified by the physical effects of syn-eruptive mingling-mixing. Pumice clasts from higher in EU3 show higher bubble and crystal number densities and less evidence of bubble collapse, textural features that are interpreted to reflect more thorough mixing of two magmas by this stage of the eruption, with consequent increases in both vesiculation and crystallization. Pumice clasts from a short-lived, high column at the onset of caldera collapse (EU4) continue the trend of increasing crystallization (enhanced by mixing) but, unexpectedly, the melt in these clasts is more vesicular than in EU3 and, in the extreme, can be classified as reticulite. We suggest that the high melt vesicularity of EU4 reflects strong decompression following the partial collapse of the magma chamber.
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On the basis of historical chronicles and field investigations the tephrostratigraphic sequence of post-1631 activity of Vesuvius is reconstructed. It has been established that, during this period, in addition to numerous totally effusive eruptions and/or normal strombolian activity, 16 explosive events produced well-traceable tephra deposits in the area outside the Mount Somma caldera. Ages of tephra beds were established on the basis of stratigraphic relationships with historical lava flows and comparison with chroniclers information. The dispersal and lithological characteristics of tephra deposits combined with description of explosive activity lead to the identification of three styles: (a) periods of violent strombolian activity; (b) violent strombolian eruptions; and (c) subplinian eruptions. Violent strombolian eruptions and periods of discrete activity are characterized by the formation of lapilli falls from eruptive columns only some kilometers high. Subplinian eruptions are defined on the basis of their lapilli fall volumes which is of the order of 107 m3, on eruptive column heights of approximately 10 km, bt higher than 1.5, and mass discharged rate values not lower than 106 kg/s. During the first century of activity after the 1631 eruption, two periods of violent strombolian activity occurred at Vesuvius (1682–1707 and 1707–1719) preceded, and followed, by a series of violent strombolian eruptions (1660, 1682, 1707, 1723, 1730, 1790, 1872). Between 1730 and 1779 a relevant change in the eruptive style of Vesuvius occurred by an increase in the explosivity of the eruptions. During the past two centuries of activity, only a few eruptions reached subplinian magnitude and only five eruptions had a phreatomagmatic phase (1779, 1794, 1822, 1906, 1944). Therefore, the previously accepted model of cyclic activity, in which each cycle is closed by an important explosive eruption with phreatomagmatic characteristics, is unfounded. The tephrostratigraphy of the 1906 eruption proposed in this work differs substantially from some previous reconstructions, on which the basis for the modeling of Vesuvius’ behavior in this time span was formed.
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 The evolution of the Somma-Vesuvius caldera has been reconstructed based on geomorphic observations, detailed stratigraphic studies, and the distribution and facies variations of pyroclastic and epiclastic deposits produced by the past 20,000 years of volcanic activity. The present caldera is a multicyclic, nested structure related to the emptying of large, shallow reservoirs during Plinian eruptions. The caldera cuts a stratovolcano whose original summit was at 1600–1900 m elevation, approximately 500 m north of the present crater. Four caldera-forming events have been recognized, each occurring during major Plinian eruptions (18,300 BP "Pomici di Base", 8000 BP "Mercato Pumice", 3400 BP "Avellino Pumice" and AD 79 "Pompeii Pumice"). The timing of each caldera collapse is defined by peculiar "collapse-marking" deposits, characterized by large amounts of lithic clasts from the outer margins of the magma chamber and its apophysis as well as from the shallow volcanic and sedimentary units. In proximal sites the deposits consist of coarse breccias resulting from emplacement of either dense pyroclastic flows (Pomici di Base and Pompeii eruptions) or fall layers (Avellino eruption). During each caldera collapse, the destabilization of the shallow magmatic system induced decompression of hydrothermal–magmatic and hydrothermal fluids hosted in the wall rocks. This process, and the magma–ground water interaction triggered by the fracturing of the thick Mesozoic carbonate basement hosting the aquifer system, strongly enhanced the explosivity of the eruptions.
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The eruption of 1631 A.D. was the most violent and destructive event in the recent history of Vesuvius. More than fifty primary documents, written in either Italian or Latin, were critically examined, with preference given to the authors who eyewitnessed volcanic phenomena. The eruption started at 7 a.m. on December 16 with the formation of an eruptive column and was followed by block and lapilli fallout east and northeast of the volcano until 6 p.m. of the same day. At 10 a.m. on December 17, several nuées ardentes were observed to issue from the central crater, rapidly descending the flanks of the cone and devastating the villages at the foot of Vesuvius. In the night between the 16th and 17th and on the afternoon of the 17th, extensive lahars and floods, resulting from rainstorms, struck the radial valleys of the volcano as well as the plain north and northeast.
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This list includes age measurements carried out from November 1969 to December 1970. All archaeologic and geologic samples come from Italian territory. Laboratory equipment, largely unchanged, has been described (Alessio et al. , 1970).
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Mount Shasta has erupted, on the average, at least once per 800yr during the last 10 000yr, and about once per 600yr during the last 4500yr. The last known eruption occurred about 200 radiocarbon years ago. Eruptions during the last 10 000yr produced lava flows and domes on and around the flanks of Mount Shasta, and pyroclastic flows from summit and flank vents extended as far as 20km from the summit. Most of these eruptions also produced large mudflows, many of which reached more than several tens of kilometers from Mount Shasta. Future eruptions like those of the past could endanger the communities of Weed, Mount Shasta, McCloud and Dunsmuir, located at or near the base of Mount Shasta.-Author
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Munno R. & Petrosino P., New constraints on the occurrence of Y-3 Upper Pleistocene tephra layer in the Tyrrhenian Sea. (IT ISSN 0394 - 3356, 2004). A widespread tephra layer, other than the well known Y-5, has been identified in the Upper Pleistocene marine succession in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Two investigated gravity cores showed, in fact, the presence of two companion pyroclastic tephra layers, separated by a varying thickness of pelagic sediments. The pyroclastic layers are mainly made up of pumice fragments and glass shards together with few K-feldspars and clino-pyroxene crystals. Both layers are alcali-trachytic in composition, even though a sharp difference emer- ges in the K/Na ratio that characterizes the two glasses. 14C dating of foraminiferous shells embedded in the clay layers directly underlying the most recent tephra gave an age of about 26 ka. An accurate review of literature regarding tephrostratigraphy in the Mediterranean area made it possible to correlate the older one to the Y-5 marker layer, joined to the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption, a paroxystic event in the Campi Flegrei area. The younger layer has been correlated with the Y-3 marker layer and probably represents another huge pyroclastic flow event from the Campanian area, whose products have not yet been distinguished in the field from those of typical Campanian Ignimbrite. This work clearly identifies the layer Y-3, firstly recorded by Keller et al. (1978), as the result of a speci- fic volcanic event different from the Campanian Ignimbrite (marker layer Y-5), defines its mineralogical and chemical composition together with its relative age offering an useful support for paleoclimatic and paleoenvinromental reconstruction of the sedimentation in the Tyrrhenian area.
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Two of the major pumice-fall deposits of Somma-Vesuvius are described. One, the Pompei Pumice, resulted from the classic eruption of A.D. 79, which is taken as the type example of a Plinian eruption. The Pompei Pumice is dispersed south and southeast of the volcano and has been traced to a distance of 72 km. The other, the Avellino Pumice, is probably a thousand years older. It is dispersed to the east and northeast and has been traced to a distance of 50 km. The two deposits are remarkably similar in character, each consisting of a lower part of white pumice and an upper part of mafic gray pumice having a similar grain-size distribution. The distinction between the two deposits is based on (a) the differing proportions of felsic crystals, mafic crystals, and lithic fragments in selected sieve grades; (b) the abundance of nepheline crystals in the Avellino Pumice and their absence from the Pompei; and (c) the greater abundance of crystals in the Avellino Pumice and of lithic debris in the Pompei. The change in composition of the erupting magmas was accompanied by an increase in the vigor of each eruption, as shown by an increase in the density and size of the pumice, in the content and size of lithic fragments, and in the area of dispersal. This is correlated with an increasing depth of origin in a compositionally zoned magma chamber. Granulometric analyses of some ninety samples show that the deposits are well sorted, the sorting improving slightly with increasing distance from the source. Maps showing the median terminal fall velocity, based on the grain-size data, enable limiting values to be derived for the height of the eruptive column and the wind strength. The volume of each deposit has been estimated from the isopach maps, namely, 2.6 km3 for the Pompei Pumice and 2.1 km2 for the Avellino Pumice.
Article
The tephra transport and fallout during the Plinian phase of the 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius has been numerically simulated by using an advection-diffusion model based on a continuity equation of the mass concentration in which wind field, atmospheric diffusion, and gravity settling are considered. Two distinct phases have been distinguished in the eruption: 1) related to white phonolitic pumice fallout and 2) dominated by the emission of gray tephritic-phonolite pumice. According to the literature the total duration of the pumice fallout was about 19 hours with column height ranging between about 14 and 32 km. The "white phase' has been estimated to have had 9 hours duration, while the "gray phase' lasted 10 hours. Magma discharge rate has been calculated assuming a fourth power relationship with column height. Total erupted volumes of 1.0 and 2.6 km3 of dense rock equivalent products have been assumed for the white and the gray phases, respectively (Sigurdsson et al., 1985). The particle population of the cloud has been assumed to correspond to that of a pyroclastic flow deposit related to a nearly total column collapse. The wind field results from a 60° clockwise rotation of the presently most frequent wind distribution field during the summer reduced in speed module of about 40%. The simulated ground thicknesses generally agree with the actual ones. The computed granulometric spectra at specific localities are in excellent agreement with the measured ones. As a whole, the simulation was successful. -from Authors
Article
The Pomici di Base eruption represents the first of a series of plinian eruptions which occurred at Somma-Vesuvius in the period 20,000 yr B.P.–79 A.D. These eruptions led to substantial demolition of the Mt. Somma stratovolcano and the formation of the 4.9×3.4 km E–W-elongated summit caldera. New 14C datings and previous radiometric data constrain the age of the Pomici di Base eruption to between 18,000 and 19,000 yr B.P. Deposits of the Pomici di Base eruption comprise from base to top: (1) plinian fallout with minor surge deposits and (2) a succession of volcanic landslide and lithic-rich fallout, surge and flow deposits. Ballistic block distribution and thickness of tephra deposits indicate that the vent was located in a 50° wide western sector within a distance of 1–2.5 km from the present Vesuvius crater, in a fairly eccentric position with respect to the ancestral Somma cone. The plinian fallout likely blanketed an eastwards elliptical area of 2600 km2 within the 20-cm isopach. Reconstruction of isopachs yields an approximate volume calculation of 4.4 km3. Comparison of maximum thickness of the fallout deposit with other plinian deposits of Somma-Vesuvius suggests that the PB eruption was the largest explosive event of the volcano. The mass discharge rate deduced from clast dispersal models is estimated in the range of 2–2.5×107 kg/s, corresponding to a column height of 16–17 km. Part of the plinian phase was characterized by pulsatory behaviour with repeated partial column collapses (surge emplacement) and concurrent oscillation of the height of the plume (stratified fallout). The plinian phase was followed by a limited slope failure of the Somma cone and by several explosive episodes with a prominent phreatomagmatic nature. We proposed that this activity occurred in connection with a phase of substantial demolition of the Somma edifice due to caldera collapse. The plinian fallout is dominated by strong compositional zoning from white trachytic pumice (SiO2 63.0 wt.%) to black latitic scoriae (SiO2 53.7 wt.%), coupled with a marked decrease of vesicularity of juvenile clasts from 70–80% to 45–55%. The compositional variation reflects strong pre-eruptive zoning of the magma chamber probably associated with volatile zonation.
Article
The Ottaviano eruption occurred in the late neolithic (8000 y B.P.). 2.40 km3 of phonolitic pyroclastic material (0.61 km3 DRE) were emplaced as pyroclastic flow, surge and fall deposits. The eruption began with a fall phase, with a model column height of 14 km, producing a pumice fall deposit (LA). This phase ended with short-lived weak explosive activity, giving rise to a fine-grained deposit (L1), passing to pumice fall deposits as the result of an increasing column height and mass discharge rate. The subsequent two fall phases (producing LB and LC deposits), had model column heights of 20 and 22 km with eruption rates of 2.5 × 107 and 2.81 × 107 kg/s, respectively. These phases ended with the deposition of ash layers (L2 and L3), related to a decreasing, pulsing explosive activity. The values of dynamic parameters calculated for the eruption classify it as a sub-plinian event. Each fall phase was characterized by variations in the eruptive intensity, and several pyroclastic flows were emplaced (F1 to F3). Alternating pumice and ash fall beds record the waning of the eruption. Finally, owing to the collapse of a eruptive column of low gas content, the last pyroclastic flow (F4) was emplaced.
Article
Contemporary accounts of the violent eruption of Vesuvius in 1631 are reviewed, and recorded events are correlated with resulting volcanic deposits. Field study of the deposits in the proximal area revealed the presence of tephra falls, pyroclastic flows and lava, with subordinate surge deposits. A total volume of 1.1 km3 (0.55 km3 DRE) of phono-tephritic to phonolitic magma was ejected during 24 hours.The different magma compositions correspond with a transition from a lower, white, aphyric, highly vesiculated pumice (layer 1) to an upper, gray, crystal-rich, poorly vesiculated pumice (layer 3), showing reverse grading. Isopach and isopleth maps of the tephra-falls have been constructed to determine changes in the eruptive style and temporal evolution of the eruption column which reached a maximum height of 16 to 28 km.The recorded column height variations show a change in the mass discharge rate (8.9 × 106 kg/s to 8.2 × 107 kg/s) and the occurrence of pyroclastic flows during the deposition of the weakly vesiculated, dense pumice of the upper part of layer 3. Pyroclastic flows are crystal-rich and show St. Vincent-type features. The explosive phase demolished the upper part of the pre-existing cone, and debris flows invaded the southern side of the volcano. In the afternoon of December 17, 1631 an outbreak of lava flow from a southern lateral fracture system occurred, and effusion of lava continued up to midnight of December 18. Intermittent steam blasts continued to the end of December, when the eruption ended and Mount Vesuvius entered a solfataric phase. The earthquakes that had marked both the pre-eruptive and eruptive phases, continued, however, well into March 1632.
Article
The April 1906 effusive and explosive paroxysm of Vesuvius concluded a 34-year-long cycle, characterized by prevalent effusive activity. The eruption began on 4 April 1906 with limited summit explosions that preceded the lava effusion from vents between 1200 and 600 m a.s.l. on the southern flank of the cone. In the late evening of April 7 the explosive strombolian activity evolved to the paroxysmal phase with the formation of two-km-high lava fountains that continued with varying intensity for about 4 hours. This phase generated a moderately dispersed tephra-fall deposit consisting of strongly vesiculated black scoriae and rare lithic clasts. When the lava fountaining ended, the subterminal effusive activity increasedOn 8 April, at 12:37 a.m. a violent earthquake preceded a change in the eruptive style with the ejection of both strongly fragmented, incandescent, vesiculated juvenile material and lithic fragments generated from the violent cone demolition During this phase the eruptive columns progressively drifted toward the north-northeast causing severe damage to the town of Ottaviano.At 4 p.m. another drastic change in the eruptive style occurred, with the formation of a giant sustained gas jet with a low concentration of dense blocky hydrated glass (the intermediate gas phase reported by Perret). This phase was generated by a powerful interaction of phreatic water with a small amount of degassed magma.The paroxysmal eruption ended with a low column generated by the degassing of the hydrothermal system (dark ash phase of Perret). This last episode deposited only a thin ash layer constituted by non-vesiculated ash particles.
Article
In 472 A.D. an explosive eruption took place on November 6 from the summit caldera of the Somma. The stratigraphy of the pyroclastic deposits suggests that the eruption involved a complex series of events, which may be grouped into four main phases. The first phase was a small magmatic explosion that resulted in a well vesiculated pumice fall layer (La) in the north-northeast. La products contain ∼20% lithic fragments and represent the vent opening stage of the eruption. Subsequent activity resulted in layered fall deposits, subdivided into layers Lb and Lmax. The products contain a much higher proportion of lithic fragments (∼50%) and are inversely graded, coarse-grained, poorly vesiculated and interbedded with thin, lithic-rich fine ash beds. These characteristics indicate that the Lb–Lmax events were most likely phreatomagmatic, caused by influx of groundwater in the magma chamber–conduit system. They resulted in a fall deposit to the north-northeast (Lb) and northeast–southeast (Lmax) of the volcano. The volume of this deposit is estimated at 1.2 km3 (0.52 km3 DRE). Component analysis indicates that lithics make up about 0.22 km3 of the deposit. Therefore the magma emplaced as tephra fall is ∼0.3 km3. The fall phase was ended by block and ash flow of the second phase, emplaced on the northern flanks of the Somma edifice. The largest block and ash flow descended to the northwest, reaching a distance of 5 km from the summit. Increasing pressure due to strong magma–water interaction is the most likely cause of the volcaniclastic debris flow of the third phase. The deposits, identified in the northern and eastern sectors of Mt Somma, comprise a large volume of lithic breccia containing a high proportion of tephritic–phonolitic xenolithic blocks up to 0.5 m across, in a grey, poorly sorted, coarse, sandy matrix, containing only a trace of juvenile pumice. The fourth phase represents the final activity, producing surge deposits, rich in accretionary lapilli and ash fall deposits, that are clearly related by phreatic–phreatomagmatic interaction of water table and magma in the chamber–conduit system. The reconstruction of the A.D. 472 eruptive phases shows that a violent explosive eruption took place in historic times. Based on these data conclusions may be drawn on explosive eruptions which may occur in the future at Somma-Vesuvio.
Article
The term ‘Plinian’ has been widely used1–4 to describe continuous gas-blast eruptions of large magnitude a typical example5, of which is the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius which destroyed Pompei and the surrounding region. We develop a new model here for the AD 79 event that explains the complete Plinian eruptive episode including pyroclastic fall, pyroclastic flow, base surge, laharic and phreatic activity. This model has widespread implications with regard to volcanic hazard evaluation and geothermal exploration at Vesuvius and other volcanoes with similar patterns of activity, such as Mount St Helens.
Article
THE goal of evaluating the risks related to the reactivation of a quiescent volcano requires the reconstructions of the eruptive history of the volcano, the construction therefrom of a behavioural model of the volcano so as to define the 'maximum expected event9 and the subsequent quantitative models allowing reliable simulation of such an event to be set up and hazard and risk maps to be developed. We have followed this approach to infer the size and character of the explosive eruption of Vesuvius to be expected after a 45-year rest period1,2, and we used a numerical model, tested on the recent Mount St Helens eruption and the Vesuvius eruption in AD 79 3,4, to simulate tephra transport and fallout. By combining the fallout model with a statistical analysis of the wind regime and with the density of urban settlement, we were able to assess quantitatively the tephra fallout risk.
Article
Correlations between pyroclastic deposits in perivolcanic areas are often complicated by lateral and vertical textural variations linked to very localized depositional effects.In this regard, a detailed sampling of A.D. 79 eruption products has been performed in the main archaeological sites of the perivolcanic area, with the aim of carrying out a grain-size, compositional and geochemical investigation so as to identify the marker layers from different stratigraphic successions and thus reconstruct the eruptive sequence. In order to process the large number of data available, a statistical approach was considered the most suitable. Statistical processing highlighted 14 marker layers among the fall, stratified surge and pyroclastic flow deposits. Furthermore statistical analysis made it possible to correlate pyroclastic flow and surge deposits interbedded with fall, interpreted as a lateral facies variation.Finally, the passage from magmatic to hydromagmatic activity is marked by the deposition of pyroclastic flow, surge and accretionary lapilli-bearing deposits. No transitional phase from magmatic to hydromagmatic activity has been recognized.
Article
Geological and volcanological studies were performed in the Herculaneum excavations, 7 km west of Vesuvius, Italy, to reconstruct the main features of the pyroclastic density currents and the temporal sequence of the ad 79 eruptive events that destroyed and buried the town. The identification of two distinctive marker beds allows correlation of these deposits with the better-known sequences to the south of Vesuvius, along the dispersal axis of the Plinian fall deposit. Detailed observations from stratigraphic sections show that the pyroclastic density current deposits are characterized by several sedimentary facies, each recording different depositional and emplacement mechanisms. Facies analysis reveals both lateral and vertical variations from massive to stratified deposits, which can be related to the combined effects of flow dynamics and local irregularities of the substratum at centimetre or metre scales. These topographic irregularities enhanced turbulence and allowed rapid transition from non-turbulent to turbulent transport within the flow. Fabric data from these deposits, both from roof tile orientations and anisotropy magnetic susceptibility (AMS) analyses carried out on some of the pyroclastic deposits, suggest that the pyroclastic density currents were strongly affected by the presence of buildings. These obstacles probably caused deflection and separation of flows into multiple lobes that moved in different directions.
Article
A theoretical model of clast fallout from convective eruption columns has been developed which quantifies how the maximum clast size dispersal is determined by column height and wind strength. An eruption column consists of a buoyant convecting region which rises to a heightH B where the column density equals that of the atmosphere. AboveH B the column rises further to a heightH T due to excess momentum. BetweenH T andH B the column is forced laterally into the atmosphere to form an upper umbrella region. Within the eruption column, the vertical and horizontal velocity fields can be calculated from exprimental and theoretical studies and consideration of mass continuity. The centreline vertical velocity falls as a nearly linear function over most of the column's height and the velocity decreases as a gaussian function radially away from the centreline. Both column height and vertical velocity are strong functions of magma discharge rate. From calculations of the velocity field and the terminal fall velocity of clasts, a series of particle support envelopes has been constructed which represents positions where the column vertical velocity and terminal velocity are equal for a clast of specific size and density. The maximum range of a clast is determined in the absence of wind by the maximum width of the clast support envelope.The trajectories of clasts leaving their relevant support envelope at its maximum width have been modelled in columns from 6 to 43 km high with no wind and in a wind field. From these calculations the shapes and areas of maximum grain size contours of the air-fall deposit have been predicted. For the no wind case the theoretical isopleths show good agreement with the Fogo A plinian deposit in the Azores. A diagram has been constructed which plots, for a particular clast size, the maximum range normal to the dispersal axis against the downward range. From the diagram the column height (and hence magma discharge rate) and wind velocity can be determined. Historic plinian eruptions of Santa Maria (1902) and Mount St. Helens (1980) give maximum heights of 34 and 19 km respectively and maximum wind speeds at the tropopause of m/s and 30 m/s respectively. Both estimates are in good agreement with observations. The model has been applied to a number of other plinian deposits, including the ultraplinian phase of theA.D. 180 Taupo eruption in New Zealand which had an estimated column height of 51 km and wind velocity of 27 m/s.
Article
¶The Campanian Plain is an 80 × 30 km region of southern Italy, bordered by the Apennine Chain, that has experienced subsidence during the Quaternary. This region, volcanologically active in the last 600 ka, has been identified as the Campanian Volcanic Zone (CVZ). The products of three periods of trachytic ignimbrite volcanism (289–246 ka, 157 ka and 106 ka) have been identified in the Apennine area in the last 300 ka. These deposits probably represent distal ash flow units of ignimbrite eruptions which occurred throughout the CVZ. The resulting deposits are interstratified with marine sediments indicating that periods of repeated volcano-tectonic emergence and subsidence may have occurred in the past. The eruption, defined as the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI), with the largest volume (310 km3), occurred in the CVZ 39 ka ago. The products of the CI eruption consist of two units (unit-1 and unit-2) formed from a single compositionally zoned magma body. Slightly different in composition, three trachytic melts constitute the two units. Unit-1 type A is an acid trachyte, type B is a trachyte and type C of unit-2 is a mafic trachyte. The CI, vented from pre-existing neotectonic faults, formed during the Apennine uplift. Initially the venting of volatile-rich type A magma deposited the products to the N–NE of the CVZ. During the eruption, the Acerra graben already affected by a NE–SW fault system, was transected by E–W faults, forming a cross-graben that extended to the gulf of Naples. E–W faults were then further dislocated by NE–SW transcurrent movements. This additional collapse significantly influenced the deposition of the B-type magma of unit-1, and the C-type magma of unit-2 toward the E–SE and S, in the Bay of Naples. The pumice fall deposit underlying the CI deposits, until now thought to be associated with the CI eruption, is not a strict transition from plinian to CI-forming activity. It is derived instead from an independent source probably located near the Naples area. This initial volcanic activity is assumed to be a precursor to the CI trachytic eruptions, which vented along regional faults.
Article
Distributions of pyroclastic deposits from the main explosive events at Somma-Vesuvio during the 8,000-year B.P.-A.D. 1906 time-span have been analysed to provide maps of volcanic hazard for long-term eruption forecasting. In order to define hazard ratings, the spatial distributions and loads (kg/m2) exerted by the fall deposits on the roofs of buildings have been considered. A load higher than 300 kg/m2 is defined as destructive. The relationship load/frequency (the latter defined as the number of times that an area has been impacted by the deposition of fall deposits) is considered to be a suitable parameter for differentiating among areas according to hazard rating. Using past fall deposit distributions as the basis for future eruptive scenarios, the total area that could be affected by the products of a future Vesuvio explosive eruption is ~1,500 km2. The perivolcanic area (274 km2) has the greatest hazard rating because it could be buried by pyroclastic flow deposits thicker than 0.5 m and up to several tens of metres in thickness. Currently, the perivolcanic area also has the highest risk because of the high exposed value, mainly arising from the high population density.
Article
The evolution of volatiles in the AD 79 magma chamber at Vesuvius (Italy) was investigated through the study of melt inclusions (MI) in crystals of different origins. FTIR spectroscopy and EMPA were used to measure H2O, CO2, S and Cl of the different melts. This allowed us to define the volatile content of the most evolved, phonolitic portion of the magma chamber and of the mafic melts feeding the chamber. MI in sanidine from phonolitic and tephri-phonolitic pumices show systematic differences in composition and volatile content, which can be explained by resorption of the host mineral during syn-eruptive mixing. The pre-eruption content of phonolitic magma appears to have been dominated by H2O and Cl (respectively 6.0 to 6.5 wt% and 6700 ppm), while magma chamber refilling occurred through the repeated injection of H2O, CO2 and S-rich tephritic magmas (respectively 3%, 1500 ppm and 1400 ppm). Strong CO2 degassing probably occurred during the decompressional path of mafic batches towards the magma chamber, while sulphur was probably released by the magma following crystallization and mixing processes. Water and chlorine strongly accumulated in the magma and reached their solubility limits only during the eruption. Chlorine solubility appears to have been strongly compositionally controlled, and Cl release was inhibited by groundmass crystallization of leucite, which shifted the composition of the residual liquid towards higher Cl solubilities.
Article
Subplinian eruptions are generally characterized by unsteadiness in magma discharge, which is reflected in the formation of strongly oscillating convective columns. As a result, the pyroclastic fall deposits show clear grain size stratification, and are frequently interlayered with small-volume pyroclastic density currents. The causes of this pulsatory behavior are at present not well understood, and represent one of the most interesting topics for future research in explosive volcanism. The Greenish Pumice (16 020±130 yr BP) is one of the higher magnitude Subplinian eruptions of Somma–Vesuvius and shows an alternation of pyroclastic fall and flow deposits. Given their complexity, the deposits were subdivided into seven lapilli beds, five ash beds, and deposits derived from pyroclastic density currents. The stratigraphic sequence records the transition from an initial phase of quasi-steady discharge resulting in a Subplinian convective column to phases of more discontinuous, pulsating activity, with the formation of Vulcanian to Subplinian plumes. Juvenile clasts have low phenocryst contents and exhibit a broad range in color, vesicularity, and groundmass crystallinity throughout the eruptive sequence. The density of juvenile fragments shows a broad range within each single layer, ranging from 0.4 to 2 g/cm3. Maximum lithics in the lapilli layers suggest column heights between 17 and 20 km (mass discharge rate from 1.5 to 3×107 kg/s). Volume estimates based on proximal and medial deposits give a very conservative value of 0.47 km3 that, based on thickness data at two distal sites, can be expanded to a volume up to three times larger, greater than the typical values of mid-intensity eruptions at Somma–Vesuvius. We suggest that the complex dynamics of the Greenish Pumice (GP) eruption are related to syn-eruptive viscosity gradients in the rising magma, induced by an important, degassing related, groundmass crystallization during ascent along the conduit. Phreatomagmatic activity did not play a major role in the eruption dynamics.
Article
A detailed stratigraphic analysis of the Avellino plinian deposit of the Somma-Vesuvius volcano shows a complicated eruptive sequence controlled by a combination of magmatic and hydromagmatic processes. The role of external water on the eruptive dynamics was most relevant in the very early phase of the eruption when the groundwater explosively interacted with a rising, gas-exolving magma body creating the first conduit. This phase generated pyroclastic surge and phreatoplinian deposits followed by a rapidly increasing discharge of a gas-rich, pure magmatic phase which erupted as the most violent plinian episode. This continuing plinian phase tapped the magma chamber, generating about 2.9 km3 of reverse-graded fallout pumice, more differentiated at the base and more primitive at the top (white and gray pumice). A giant, plinian column, rapidly grew up reaching a maximum height of 36 km.The progressive magma evacuation at a maximum discharge rate of 108 kg/s that accompanied a decrease of magmatic volatile content in the lower primitive magma allowed external water to enter the magma chamber, resulting in a drastic change in the eruptive style and deposit type. Early wet hydromagmatic events were followed by dry ones and only a few, subordinated magmatic phases. A thick, impressive sequence of pyroclastic surge bedsets of over 430 km2 in area with a total volume of about 1 km3 is the visible result of this hydromagmatic phase.
Article
Analyses of grain-size and modal composition of the Campanian tuff ash layer (Y-5) from 11 deep-sea cores have been carried out. This layer represents ash fall that has been correlated with the 38,000 y.b.p. Campanian ignimbrite (Thunell et al., 1979), a deposit formed by the largest eruption documented in the Mediterranean region during the late Pleistocene (Barberi et al., 1978). The bulk deposit is bimodal in grain-size and dominated by glass shards. The calculated mean grain-size of the coarse mode of the individual size distributions decreases with distance from the source and progressively approaches a near-constant fine mode of approximately 13 microns. Distal samples are unimodal in grain-size.These data combined with a set of vertical profiles of wind (10 year average) have been used as input to a computer model that simulates fallout of tephra. Modelling indicates that the downwind variation of grain-size of the coarse mode can be accurately reproduced with transport of ash between 5 and 35 km. The observed fine mode of the deposit cannot, however, be generated by transport of ash as individual particles at these elevations. Such transport would result in deposition of virtually all of the fine ash beyond the studied area. Deposition of fine ash within the studied distance of 1600 km from source can only occur by fallout as particle aggregates from a high eruption plume or as individual particles from co-ignimbrite ash clouds with a maximum elevation of 3 km. The large volume of ash in the fine mode (>70 wt.%) and the irregularity in azimuth of low-level winds argue against major low-level transport of co-ignimbrite ash. Rather, the ash may have been derived from both a plinian eruption column and high-altitude clouds of co-ignimbrite ash, with settling of fine ash as particle aggregates.
Article
Between 1884 B.C. and A.D. 472, eruptive activity at Somma–Vesuvius was dominated by the three plinian eruptions of Avellino (3550 yr B.P.), Pompei (A.D. 79) and A.D. 472 and, as a result, little attention has been given to the intervening interplinian activity. The interplinian events are here reconstructed using new data from twenty stratigraphic sections around the lower flanks of the volcano. Three main eruptions have been identified for the protohistoric period (3550 yr B.P.–A.D. 79). The first two occurred shortly after the Avellino event and both show a progression from magmatic to phreatomagmatic behaviour. The third eruption (2700 B.P.) consisted of five phreatomagmatic episodes separated by the emplacement of mud flows. Only one event, the explosive eruption of A.D. 203, has been identified for the ancient historic period (A.D. 79–472). In contrast, the A.D. 472 eruption was followed during the medieval period (A.D. 472–1631) by comparatively vigorous interplinian activity, including four strombolian–phreatomagmatic events and extensive lava effusion, which formed a summit cone (destroyed in A.D. 1631) similar to that on Vesuvius today. Such regular alternations of plinian and interplinian events are evident only since 3550 yr B.P. and provide important constraints for forecasting future behaviour at Somma–Vesuvius.
Article
Detailed descriptions of the effects of explosive eruptions on urban settlements available to volcanologists are relatively rare. Apart from disease and starvation, the largest number of human deaths caused by explosive eruptions in the twentieth century are due to pyroclastic flows. The relationship between the number of victims related to a specific hazard and the presence of urban settlements in the area covered by the eruption has been shown. However, pyroclastic falls are also extremely dangerous under certain conditions. These conclusions are based on archaeological and volcanological studies carried out on the victims of the well-known AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed and buried the Roman city of Pompeii. The stratigraphic level in the pyroclastic deposit and the location of all the casualties found are described and discussed. The total number of victims recovered during the archaeological excavations amounts to 1150. Of these, 1044 well recognisable bodies plus an additional group of 100 individuals were identified based on the analysis of several groups of scattered bones. Of the former, 394 were found in the lower pumice lapilli fall deposit and 650 in the upper stratified ash and pumice lapilli pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) deposits. In addition, a tentative evaluation suggests that 464 corpses may still be buried in the unexcavated part of the city. According to the reconstruction presented in this paper, during the first phase of the eruption (August 24, AD 79) a huge quantity of pumice lapilli fell on Pompeii burying the city under 3 m of pyroclastic material. During this eruptive phase, most of the inhabitants managed to leave the city. However, 38% of the known victims were killed during this phase mainly as a consequence of roofs and walls collapsing under the increasing weight of the pumice lapilli deposit. During the second phase of the eruption (August 25, AD 79) 49% of the total victims were on the roadways and 51% inside buildings. All of these inhabitants, regardless of their location, were killed by the unanticipated PDCs overrunning the city. New data concerning the stratigraphic level of the victims in the pyroclastic succession allow us to discriminate between the sequential events responsible for their deaths. In fact, casts of some recently excavated corpses lay well above the lower PDCs deposit, testifying that some of the inhabitants survived the first pyroclastic current. Finally, during the PDCs phase the victims died quite rapidly by ash asphyxiation. From the attitude of some casts, it seems that some people survived the initial impact of the second pyroclastic current and tried to support head and bust during the progressive aggradation of the deposit at the base of the current.
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