Skip to comments.Think Pompeii Got Hit Hard? Worse Eruptions Lurk
Posted on 03/07/2006 11:10:23 AM PST by blam
Think Pompeii got hit hard? Worse eruptions lurk
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Mon Mar 6, 5:03 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The preserved footprints and abandoned homes of villagers who fled a giant eruption of Mount Vesuvius 3,800 years ago show the volcano could destroy modern-day Naples with little warning, Italian and U.S. researchers reported on Monday.
The eruption buried entire villages as far as 15 miles (25 kilometres) from the volcano, cooking people as they tried to escape and dumping several feet (metres) of ash and mud.
New excavations show far more extensive damage than that found at the more famous site of Pompeii, buried in A.D. 79.
It could happen again, affecting metropolitan Naples, where 3 million people live, and officials are not planning properly for it, the researchers write in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Evidence shows that a sudden, en masse evacuation of thousands of people occurred at the beginning of the eruption," Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo and colleagues at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Volcanologia-Osservatorio Vesuviano wrote.
"Everything was there," added Michael Sheridan, a geologist and hazard assessment expert at the University at Buffalo in New York who worked on the study.
"They even left animals in cages," Sheridan said in a telephone interview.
"Scenes of everyday life, frozen by the volcanic deposits, testify that people suddenly left the village: the molds of four huts, with pottery and other objects left inside; skeletons of a dog and nine pregnant goat victims found in a cage; and footprints of adults, children and cows filled by the first fallout pumice," the researchers wrote.
"I think what they probably had was a couple of days (to get out). There are lots of skeletons but thousands and thousands of footprints," Sheridan said.
The footprints would have been left as survivors ran through the mud deposited in the explosion. Ash filled them, preserving them for archeologists
VIGNETTES OF LIFE
The site at Pompeii is famous for the vignettes of everyday life preserved in the ash -- writhing victims, everyday households and even a brothel with lurid murals.
Several sites dug up in farmland and pumice quarries in the surrounding area show similar preservation of the much-older Bronze Age civilization, Sheridan said. "This is really a slice into the life of the people who lived there," he said.
Vesuvius would have shaken as the strength of the eruption built. A column of ash would have spewed high up into the atmosphere and then rained down for many miles around.
Clouds of steam and ash would have formed on the flanks of the volcano and rolled down, leaving steaming deposits as far away as 9 miles.
These would have cooled toward the edges, allowing escape, but closer in, nothing would have survived, Sheridan said. "The people in there would have cooked," he said.
Looking at Vesuvius now, it sits directly across the Bay of Naples from the city and its extensive suburbs.
"If you look at the structure of the volcano, it now forms an amphitheater that is facing west (toward Naples). This has a very strong effect on blast and flows," Sheridan said.
"It is almost as if they would be focused toward Naples."
Sheridan said the disaster that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the U.S. Gulf Coast shows officials do not plan adequately for natural disasters.
"It is obvious they were not paying attention to what happened or have plans for something a little larger than what they expected," he said.
"In Naples it is the same sort of story."
Did Bush know?
"We're all going to die!!!!!"
You speak truth.
Is Michael Moore about to blow?
Pompeii is really cool. I would have loved to party with those people.
There was plenty of warning for Pompeii. Most took the rumbling and plumes as part of the scenic attraction of the area and shrugged it off. 'Oh, that's just Vesuvius, it does that all the time, no big deal.'
Golly, the cable news networks haven't had a volcano to obsess about since Mt. St. Helens. As I recall, the death toll in that one was 1 old man who refused to leave. Now if Mexico City was to blow, that would be pretty cool.
I think it was 51 or 52 people who died. BTW, the old man did die...his name was Harry Truman.
Goat VICTIMS! What the fudge. The goats were for eating, and they just got cook earlier than planned.
Yeah, I saw the movie. He was played by Art Carney.
57 dead from St Helens eruption.
Get an umbrella.
Sheridan said the disaster that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the U.S. Gulf Coast shows officials do not plan adequately for natural disasters. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Maybe I am slow but I fail to see how it is possible to"plan adequately" for natural disasters. Of course on the other hand any fool can make grandiose plans, the execution is a little more difficult.
Well, the definition of "adequately" is always open to interpretation in that context. But one can also figure out inadequate planning - such as Nagin waiting for the Saturday before Katrina hit to work out the legalities of ordering a mandatory evacuation. Just for starters.
You speak truth.
Not me. I'm planning on living forever. So far it's working.
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You apparently haven't been seeing all the recent doom-and-gloom programs about the Yellowstone Caldera. The truth is, the human race lives every day in the shadow of some devastating natural disaster: volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, asteroid collisions...what am I leaving out? I'm amazed to learn, late in life, that it's the responsibility of Republican administrations to save us from all of them.
There have been some really cool shows on that! Yeah, were due any day now, in the next 30,000 years or so,for another supereruption.
Of most immediate concern, Bird Flu.
Yellowstone is 40,000 years over-due. Ahem, prepare now?
Move Over, Pompeii
Archaeology, Volume 55 Number 2 | March/April 2002 | Jarrett A. Lobell
Posted on 08/10/2004 1:03:10 PM EDT by SunkenCiv
I only pray that we have a viable self sufficient civilization offworld by the time those goes up or we'll be rolling the dice for the survival of the human species.
Worldwide human survivors of the Tomu supervolcano eruption 74K ya were estimated at only 5000 or so.
The "preparation" for the Yellowstone blow, would require moving about 1000 miles away, and then hope the UN will be generous, because the US will be prostrate. The UN might not be generous, since the food supply world wide, will be truncated, as the sun for a long time becames rather invisible.
Sorry, all, this is a topic from March. :'(
Yup. Most of the people of the world would die, first from cold weather and then from starvation.
Forget St. Helens. She's nothing compared to what Mt. Rainier can do.
I don't think I never asked to be put on your GGG ping list, so please put me on there. :-)
Katrina, the byword by which all natural disasters will now be judged.
Hey, how can I refuse? ;')
It's not like hot-spot calderas are on any kind of real schedule. It may not erupt in another 40,000 years. I don't live too far from the Long Valley (Mammoth) caldera and it's been behaving strangely in recent decades. It may be getting ready. Or not. But they're measuring some ominous rises in ground levels.
Human lives are short compared to the long cycles of volcanoes and other natural phenomena and they always take us by surprise. Someday another generation of Italians in Herculaneum and Pompeii will be sacrificed to Vesuvius. As your Toba article makes clear, human existence on this planet is precarious at best.
That was the one ... thanks for posting a reference.
You left out Tambora (;)
Mexico City's nearest volcanoes are 30 or 40 miles away. I climbed almost to the top of Popocatepetl. If the wind was blowing the wrong way it could certainly cause serious problems.
With that major eruption about 1800 BCE, perhaps that was the cause of the Second Intermediate Period in Egypt when there was famine, chaos, and the Hyksos invaded.
There were several really large caldera events prior to the end of the ice age about 18,000 years ago. One, Sakura-jima in Japan left a 15 mile diameter crater about 22 Kya.
"Not me. I'm planning on living forever. So far it's working."
And "die trying" is for losers! ;)
Do it. You gotta love the seedy feeling you get in Napoli. And if you're a history buff, the National Museum is a must. They've got lots of frecoes from Pompeii and Ercolano. But probably the best thing about Napoli is that it's about an hour and a half drive to Sorrento with Vesuvio smack dab in the middle. Now, you wouldn't want to miss Sorrento since it happens to be the most beautiful place on the planet. Also a trip to Pompeii is good, but visiting Vesuvio himself at the rim of the caldera is much better.
Did you get a chance to see Ercolano (Herculaneum)?
Naples is very crime-ridden now; not a good place to visit. If a volcano has to erupt, it's as good as place as any.
I've been to Pompeii and it's a very interesting place to visit.
I drove up to Sorrento from Paestum this summer. What a great dive. The Misses and I fantasize about ending up in Sorrento.
Isn't the coast road crazy? It was white-knuckle city for me the whole way the first time I had to drive it, but after about the sixth or seventh time I was flashing my lights and honking my horn at the newbies just like a native!Doesn't get any prettier, though highway 1 around Big Sur comes close.