Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in Italy

Italy is a seismically active country with a long history of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In the days of the Grand Tourists, the volcano of Vesuvius was active. Visitors would often watch a nightly show of glowing lava and plumes of gas and ash pouring from the crater. The science of archaeology began in Italy with excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum starting in the 18th century. Probably the most famous volcanic eruption in Europe was the Vesuvius eruption of AD 79 when the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were engulfed with lava, ash and volcanic debris.

Today, the volcano of Etna on the island of Sicily is active, and flows of lava are making their way slowly down the flanks of the mountain. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are all part of the endless geological processes that keep our planet dynamic and ever-changing. A volcanic eruption is a massive explosion of molten rock and gases that pour into our atmosphere and then fall under gravity back to Earth. It’s all part of a giant recycling process transforming solid rock into ash and tiny volcanic stones known as lapilli which rain down on the planet and gradually over time consolidate into new rock surfaces and eventually create mineral-rich, fertile soils, perfect for farming. It is a huge, never-ending process of construction, erosion and destruction that repeats itself infinitely.

For more on the history of archaeology – why not read: Vesuvius and the eruption of AD 79

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