Take a look at these earthly treasures soon to be glimpsed:
As seen from Naples at Sunset, Mount Vesuvius is an imposing sight. At 4203’ it is the only active volcano on the European mainland, close to Naples, with over 3 million people close by, and considered one of the most dangerous in the world. It is a good 400,000 years old, with the most catastrophic eruption in 79 AD which wiped out Roman settlements including the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum whose total population was between 16,000 and 20,000. The remains of over 1500 people have been found, but the death toll is unclear. It’s calculated that 21 miles of ash, molten rock and pumice was released, a hundred thousand times the thermal energy of Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings.
Mt.Vesuvius from the air
This Unesco World Heritage Site is called today Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata. It is one of the many Unesco World Heritage sites that make the region of Campania, Italy, unique worldwide. In addition to its source of important geological and tectonic knowledge, Vesuvius is constantly monitored and studied for past present and future activity within the confines of its mainland scientific laboratory, according to a 2018 NOVA documentary. It last erupted in March, 1944. Another eruption in April 7, 1906 killed over 100 people and ejected the most lava ever recorded from a Vesuvian eruption, and even today, there is a constant state of danger surrounding the volcano. It is constantly monitored.
Volcanoes are formed by the upward forcing of rocks formed in the earth’s tectonic boundaries. There are at least 11 dormant volcanoes in the Italian territory. The only country with active volcanoes, Italy’s three major concerns are still erupting today.
10,912’ Mount Etna World Heritage Site on the island of Sicily is a stratovolcano or conical volcano, with activity traced back 500,000 years, has mythological beginnings, and in an almost continuous state of activity with summit and flank eruptions, as recent as December 2018. It is the highest volcano in Europe and one of the most active.
Conical shaped Mount Stromboli, north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, on the island by the same name, is 3040’ high and in a constant state of eruption. It’s eruption on July 4, 2019, is the largest since at least 2007, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.* Molten lava flowed, causing tree and grass fires. In addition to panic, a male hiker was killed by a falling stone, apparently the only casualty.
Approximately 1,000 people live in Stromboli’s shadow. The enormous influx of tourists in July is also a pressing concern. The volcano’s spectacular geological feature is the “Stream of Fire” (Sciara del Fuoco), a U-shaped depression on one side of the cone created by 13,000 years of eruptions and collapses. Like the other Aeolian islands, Stromboli is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the 2002 eruption, a network of high-tech monitoring of volcanic activity was set up, making it one of the most monitored volcanoes in the world. Excursions to the craters are only allowed with a volcanological guide.
There are at least 11 other volcanoes on Italian territory with dormant and/or “uncertain” status dating from 600,000 years ago through to the 1900’s.
*INGV is funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research and monitors seismic and volcanic phenomena, employing approximately 1000 people between headquarters in Rome and other locations in Milan, Bologna, Pisa, Naples, Catania and Palermo.