Mount Vesuvius… Monster Volcano

The snow-covered peak of Mount Vesuvius volcano is framed by ancient ruins of the archaeological excavations of Pompeii, near Naples, southern Italy in 2019. (Credit: Cesare Abbate / ANSA / Associated Press)

At around noon on August 24, 79 AD – many of the 30,000  Romans who lived and worked in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius (about 200 kilometres south of Rome, Italy ) were about to break for lunch. Without warning, the top of Mount Vesuvius disappeared in an eruption so intense, a wall of 250°C heat swept across the region, destroyed almost every building within 10 kilometres, and killed 2,000 people instantly.    That explosion released  100,000 times more thermal energy than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, and created a similar mushroom cloud to Hiroshima’s, only about twice the size, at over 20 miles high.  Over the next 12 hours, Vesuvius would spew out about 1.5 million tons of ash per second into the atmosphere – which then rained down  6 inches of ash an hour on the city of Pompeii, weighing as much as 250,000 elephants per second.   After just one hour, the sun was blotted out.  12 hours after the initial blast, shortly after midnight, a wall of volcanic mud engulfed the town of Herculaneum, obliterating it.  Any survivors fled to Pompeii.  At 6:30 AM the next morning, a cloud of ash and gases rolled down the volcano and covered Pompeii.  Most victims died instantly of suffocation.  Many were preserved perfectly in detail by the ash that covered them soon after, entombing them.  They would soon be forgotten by history, and wouldn’t be discovered again until the 1700s.

The city of Naples, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. (Credit: Mount Vesuvius / iStock.com / MrKornFlakes)

Fast forward to 2021- and what have we learned from all this?  NOTHING. – now, millions of people live within a few miles of Mount Vesuvius, which we now know is 1 of only 12 super-volcanoes in the world –  and has had 12 eruptions since 79 AD .  The last major eruption was during World War II, with American troops fighting nearbyAnd it is due for another cataclysmic blowout, at any time.

Vesuvius – the only active volcano in Europe.

The residents of Pompeii would have been in shock as they watched their mountain turn on them like that.  They had been worshipping Vesuvius for centuries – symbolic of the power of their Roman god Jupiter.  Now, it seemed, the gods were ticked off – and they didn’t know why.  Many of the residents that lived near Vesuvius were simple farmers, attracted there because of how rich the soil was for growing crops on the side of the mountain.  Of course, we know now that the rich soil was due to several previous volcanic eruptions!  But at that time, amazingly,  no one in the region had any clue that they were  living beside a volcano at all.  There hadn’t been an eruption for over 1,800 years.  In fact, to this day, Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland.

Herculaneum’s boathouse ruins once lined the ancient shore. (Photo credit: Dave & Margie Hill/Flickr)

In fact, the word “volcano” was actually coined to describe this event and named after yet another of the Roman gods, who always seemed to be very angry – this time, Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.

The highly superstitious residents thought their gods must be furious – even the city of Herculaneum, named after the legendary Hercules,  the “son of the god” Jupiter – was not spared.  In fact, it was buried soon after Pompeii – in over 50 feet of ash!

The Villa Poppaea is an ancient luxurious Roman seaside villa located in Torre Annunziata between Naples and Sorrento, in Southern Italy. It is also called the Villa Oplontis or Oplontis Villa A. as it was situated in the ancient Roman town of Oplontis. (Credit: Miguel Hermoso Cuesta )

In the neighbouring city of Oplontis, not only did their roofs collapse, as did many others throughout the region but their walls were crushed and blasted sideways around the area like a tornado had ripped through town.

And in the nearby seaside city of Stabiae, archaeologists have uncovered the largest, most luxurious, and best-preserved villas in all of the Roman Empire.  Money doesn’t buy happiness – or any kind of real protection against volcanic eruptions, so it seems.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, however, was especially merciless with the city of Pompeii  – burying the entire city of thousands in 19 feet of volcanic ash, where they vanished from history for 1,500 years, until archaeologists discovered within the now-rock hard ash the bodily shapes of over 1,000 victims, literally frozen in time.  They believe, however, that many times more were killed in just that one day alone, and remain entombed in similar settings.

But as I stated earlier, no one seems to have learned anything from history.  So it’s about to possibly repeat itself.  Mount Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, located in the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.  It’s one of 12 supervolcanoes on earth, which include one under Yellowstone National Park the size of Mexico, with enough lava in it to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times.  I’ve written at least 4 articles previously about what’s happening in Yellowstone as well – America is also not ready for such a massive eruptive disaster.

Yellowstone’s continent-killing super-volcano. (Credit: Royal Holloway University of London)

Check out these articles:

Yellowstone UPDATE #1: 464 Earthquakes in 10 Days!

Yellowstone UPDATE #2: Now 878 Earthquakes in 14 Days!

Yellowstone UPDATE #3: Over 1,562 Earthquakes in 57 Days!

Yellowstone UPDATE #4: 2,500 Earthquakes in 115 days

Vesuvius, a stratovolcano, is a type known for its explosive eruptions. It’s very active, having blown a dozen times before after the famous Pompeii event.

Mount Vesuvius had erupted on April 5, 1906, wreaking havoc on the city of Naples which was to host the 1908 Summer Olympics. As a result of the damages done, they had to hold the games elsewhere.

Then, beginning on March 17, 1944, just seven months after the Allied invasion of Italy, the volcano erupted again, killing 26 locals, and destroying nearby villages.  It also destroyed over 80 American bombers, based at the Pompeii airfield nearby, which were coated with a thick layer of ash.

Then, for the last 80 years, it has gone quiet.   

Some scientists believe it’s now too quiet.

Almost the entire main city of Naples falls in the red zone of Mount Vesuvius. 25 other communities nearby could also be affected. (Credit: Giulio Zuccaro, et al: Annals of Geophysics, “Impact assessments in volcanic areas – The Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei cases studies“, February 2019)

Today, the city of Naples, Italy has a metro population of over 6.8 million people – nearly the size of the Greater Houston-Gulf Coast region – America’s 5th largest city – and all living within about 20 kilometres of the giant volcano.  600,000 of those people live even closer, in the red zone (a distance of 10 kilometres from the crater) – which would put them in a direct path of deadly lava flows.

The eruption that levelled Pompeii measured a 5 (some experts say 6) on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. Each increased number indicates an eruption that is 10 times more powerful (the highest score on record so far being 8).  The 79 AD volcano had been preceded by a powerful earthquake 17 years beforehand that rocked Pompeii and damaged much of its infrastructure – which was still being rebuilt when the volcano erupted.  The actual eruptive explosion, however, was very quick and did cataclysmic damage in just 2 days.

The city of Naples has developed a plan to evacuate up to 750,000 people in 3 days out of the region, if necessary.  They had to after scientists in early 2016 labelled the volcano “at-risk” of erupting.  The plan calls for the evacuation of…

“..the entire ‘red zone’ in just 72 hours, using 12 hours for organization, 48 hours for moving, and an extra 12-hour ‘security margin’. As well as the 375,000 registered cars in the area, the region is ready to put 500 buses and 220 trains into action each day of the evacuation period.

Each of the 25 regions has been ‘twinned’ with another area of Italy, where evacuated residents would be hosted. Different towns would be asked to use different modes of transport depending on their destination; for example, Pompei residents would take boats to Sardinia, while Neapolitans would board trains to Lazio.”

That’s their plan?  Buses, trucks, cars, trains, and boats?   They can’t be serious. Everyone is going to be panicking.  By the millions. Normal traffic patterns will be severely affected by everyone rushing to get out at once.  Up to 6 inches of volcanic ash per HOUR fell on Pompeii in 79 AD.  Lava flowed like a river over 10 kilometres away in 1944.  Rocks nearly 3 feet wide could be constantly raining down like bombs across the city.   And with the sun blocked out by the ash, it will be like travelling at midnight through the city.   And they think they’ll be driving anyone out of the city with road conditions like that? These eruptions are rare.  Scientists estimate that there have been only 20 around the world since 1500.  Vesuvius’ last major eruption was back in 1631.  It was a VEI 4, and the eruption lasted for 6 days. Oh, yes – and another 6,000 people are thought to have died at that time.  The death toll from this one volcano is really adding up. Why do people keep choosing to live there?

The beautiful city of Naples, Italy.

If Vesuvius erupted today, the damage would depend on the scale of the eruption. As a worst-case scenario, experts are planning for a VEI 4.   Even at that level, an eruption would create an intense heat blast capable of cooking people to death in less than a second, followed by a pyroclastic flow of lava and rock while smoke and ashes would shoot into the atmosphere. 

Does that honestly sound like the kind of day that you would imagine a city that looks like this would face successfully?  Do you imagine residents of a city looking like that would be particularly capable of dealing with such a massive natural disaster?

Dating back some 4,000 years, Naples is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded by Greek settlers, the distinct Neapolitan culture survived even after the Romans conquered the area. But can they survive a super volcano?

By some expert estimates, a VEI 4 or 5 eruption could kill over 10,000 people and cost the Italian economy more than $20 billion. Millions of people would certainly lose power, water and transportation, some for months. Like the Icelandic eruption in 2010, such a disaster could disrupt air travel for weeks, as well as shipping on the entire continent — not just for a few days.  Depending on which way the wind is blowing, Pompeii and most likely downtown Naples could be buried in metres of ash What a pretty city – to be covered with such filth. That’s why the Vesuvius Observatory monitors seismic activity on Vesuvius 24/7 looking for signs of an impending eruption. Remember, the residents of Pompeii were given no advance warning.  Fortunately, at least we know today that Vesuvius is actually a volcano, so that’s a step ahead.

2.5 million tourists visit Pompeii every year, and see the casts of bodies created in the ash, every year. And how many of these tourists could become themselves the next tourist attractions in a few thousand years, should Vesuvius erupt again soon?

But the reality is that Vesuvius, the Pompeii ruins and nearby Naples are a huge attraction and vital to the local economy, drawing millions of tourists a year – who come to this fascinating site of a past civilization — a 2,000-year-old city frozen in time, preserved by the same volcanic eruption that caused its destruction. And in doing so, how many of those tourists are themselves in possible danger of being caught in this killer volcano’s path, becoming the newest tourist attraction in another 2,000 years?

By: Shawn Jorgensen,
Founding Editor
Calling Out Community
Posted: June 7, 2021
[God’s Got A Plan For You!]]

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