Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)
image of Mt. Vesuvius, Italy was acquired September 26, 2000. The full-size
false-color image covers an area of 36 by 45 km. Vesuvius overlooks the city of Naples
and the Bay of Naples in central Italy. (Popocatepetl
and Mount Fuji are
other volcanos surrounded by dense urban areas.) In 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted
cataclysmically, burying all of the surrounding cites with up to 30 m of
ash. The towns of Pompeii and Herculanaeum were rediscovered in the 18th
century, and excavated in the 20th century. They provide a snapshot of
Roman life from 2000 years ago: perfectly preserved are wooden objects,
food items, and the casts of hundreds of victims. Vesuvius is
intensively monitored for potential signs of unrest that could signal
the beginning of another eruption.
Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
For more than 240 million years the region now known as Italy has been the scene of episodic volcanic activity. East-southeast of Napoli (Naples) stands the imposing cone of Vesuvius, which erupted explosively in 79 A.D. to bury Pompeii and Herculaneum.