One of Italy's most popular attractions is Pompeii. The ancient city of Pompeii, was a beautiful Roman summer resort. The people who lived there and who visited this town had little concern that it was in the shadow of a dormant volcano, Mount Vesuvius. However, on the morning of August 24th, 79 A.D., these people would be stricken with fear as Mount Vesuvius began to erupt; sending them, and residents of several nearby smaller towns including Herculaneum, fleeing for their lives. On this page are lists of interesting facts about Pompeii and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This information includes when the volcano erupted, where Pompeii is located, how many people died, and what happened to Pompeii. This information is written for both kids and adults.
Mount Vesuvius Eruption Facts
On the morning of August 24th, 79 AD Mount Vesuvius gave of several small emissions and small explosions.
In the early afternoon the volcano erupted. A tall cloud of gas and superheated rocks was flung high into the sky; this cloud was so large that many surrounding areas were cloaked in complete darkness.
The afternoon of August 24th saw a progressively worsening situation. Dangerous gases were emitted from the volcano and strong tremors caused many buildings to collapse.
In the afternoon many people tried to flee Pompeii and other nearby towns; many heading to the bay in hopes of getting on rescue ships.
In the early evening volcanic rock and ash began to fall on the surrounding areas causing roofs to collapse and gradually burring most of Pompeii. The town would eventually be buried under millions of tons of ash and rock some 82 feet (25 meters) deep.
In the evening deadly pyroclastic flows, which are extremely fast moving superheated clouds of volcanic gas and rock, sweep down from Mount Vesuvius, they kill everything in their path immediately. Several of these pyroclastic surges take place during the night up until early morning. The intense heat from these flows was determined to be the main cause of death from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
How many people died in Pompeii and the surrounding towns is believed to be approximately 2,000. However, some experts estimate this number to be much higher.
Various Interesting Pompeii Facts
Pompeii is located on Italy's west coast just south of Naples.
On February 5th, 62 A.D., sixteen years before the eruption of Vesuvius, a very strong earthquake struck Pompeii. Numerous buildings were damaged or destroyed. Although not realized at the time this was a warning signal of the eruption.
Thanks to letters written by a Roman eyewitness to the eruption, Pliny the Younger, to a friend we know a lot of details about what happened. He not only witnessed the eruption, from across the Bay of Naples, but also spoke with survivors of the blast; all of which he wrote about in his letters.
The eruption gave a blast of energy estimated to be one hundred thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima Japan during WW2.
Many of those who died at Pompeii were covered with ash so quickly that molds were made of their bodies. After the bodies deteriorated these molds were left behind. Excavators poured plaster of Paris into these empty spaces and created life like plaster images of the people (and animals) killed in the eruption.
Pompeii remained buried an undisturbed up until 1748 when explorers, searching for artifacts, found the site.
An interesting fact is that Mount Vesuvius erupted the day after the annual Roman festival that honored Vulcan the god of fire, including fires from volcanoes.
Over 2 million people per year visit Pompeii; it one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Italy. At this excavation people can view a Roman city frozen in time.
In 1997 it was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Today Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is regarded as one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes.