• Welcome to Orpington Astronomical Society.


New version SMF 2.1.2 installed. You may need to clear cookies and login again...

Main Menu

Volcanic Visit

Started by Carole, Sep 07, 2019, 13:35:04

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


I thought as there have been some holiday postings of things that might interest the members, that I'd post up a bit of our holiday in Sorrento. 

Whilst not directly Astro, I thought that some of you might find this scientifically interesting. 
Sorry about the history lesson though.

We visited both Herculaneum and Pompei both wiped out by the eruption in 79AD.

79AD:  (Quote) Vesuvius violently spewed  a deadly cloud of super-heated tephra and gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), ejecting molten rock, pulverized pumice and hot ash at 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing 100,000 times the thermal energy of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings


It seems that Herculaneum was better preserved than Pompei because the type of pyroclastic flow was different, consisting of molten mud and hot rocks which literally cooked their muscles and lungs and was an instant death, and over the centuries this preserved the town with very little decay.  Skeletons were found near what was then the shore line trying to escape (today the shore line extends much further out thanks to Vesuvian activity.  Wooden structures were carbonised, today they are still to be seen but encased in glass to preserve them.

Two days later a  further pyroclastic flow composed of Volcanic ash and poisonous gases buried Pompei under millions of tons of volcanic Ash 13 – 20 feet thick.   The citizens took longer to die from Asphyxiation.

Here is a map of the area:

(Quote) Pompeii remained mostly untouched until 1748, when a group of explorers looking for ancient artifacts arrived in Campania and began to dig. They found that the ashes had acted as a marvelous preservative: Underneath all that dust, Pompeii was almost exactly as it had been almost 2,000 years before.
Skeletons were frozen right where they'd fallen. Everyday objects and household goods littered the streets. Later archaeologists even uncovered jars of preserved fruit and loaves of bread!

This was our view of Vesuvius from our Hotel balcony window (just before sunset):

Further info on Vesuvius:
Mount Vesuvius has not erupted since 1944, but it is still one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Experts believe that another catastrophic eruption is due any day—an almost unfathomable catastrophe, since almost 3 million people live within 20 miles of the volcano's crater.
In 1944 the crater sealed up it's opening, and is now like a cork waiting to pop.

Armed with all this information, we decided slightly nervously to climb up Vesuvius and peer into it's crater.  The coach took us to 1000 feet and we had to climb the remaining 700 feet. I think I did my exercise for a whole month!!!  The views of Naples were stunning and you could see past lava flows.

At one point in it's history, Vesuvius blew itself up forming two mountains, and reducing itself from 7000ft to almost 2000 feet.  You can see the lava flow roughly between the two peaks.  Those white houses nearby must have a death wish!!!


What was the holiday called "life in their hands tours", lol :boom:
Glad to see you enjoyed it,

RedCat51,QHYCCD183,Atik460EX,EQ6-R.Tri-Band OSC,BaaderSII1,25" 4.5nm,Ha3.5nm,Oiii3.5nm.


Lol, it was called:
Capri, Pompei and the Bay of Naples.  The climb up Vesuvius was an optional extra.



Just found a couple more photos on Hubby's camera.

This is the climb up, you can see the ground is very loose larval material.  Sorry he took a shot of my backside.

And this is the view - I think - from the top, or pretty near:


Great post Carole and looks like an excellent holiday.  Some of the mosaics preserved in the houses in Pompeii are incredible.



They definitely are Roberto.  Some of the houses in Herculaneum are amazingly intact, but I thought Pompei despite being less complete was much more impressive with the Squares and forums and the huge circular theatre etc.



Yes, quite a place to visit.  I did try some years ago when visiting my sister in law in Rome.  We drove down to Sorrento and stayed a couple of days and one day decided to visit the volcano.  On arrival we were told that there were some fires burning on the side of the volcano but we wanted to go to the funicular station and take the train to the top.  So we set off but after a while found ourselves driving along a road with fires on both sides of the road!  A little further on we were stopped and told the train station had burned down!  So we decided that was a sign to call it a day and gave up.

We did visit Herculaneum and, with it being about 30 years ago, were given free rein to walk as we wanted as there was no one there.  Elaine and her sister even sat in one of the baths (dry) ~ we have a photo somewhere. 

A couple of years ago they did identify that there a number of volcanic vents in the Bay of Naples itself ~ so if it does go bang there will be quite a show!

Glad you enjoyed your trip.



Hugh there hasn't been a funicular railway up Vesuvius since the 1944 eruption which destroyed it.  But apparently they did replace it with a Chairlift but that too was stopped in 1984.

QuoteOn 8 July 1953 the new chair lift of Mt.Vesuvius was inaugurated. It was the first twin-seat plant with moving chairs in Italy and cost only one-third of what it would have cost to rebuild the funicular.

On 31 May 1961, the "Vesuvius Railway and Funicular Company" changed its company title in "Vesuvius chair lift and bus-line" and was controlled by Circumvesuviana. The plant could transport until 1000 persons daily. As the years went by, it became not much suitable to transport tourists, because unable to transport at the same time the numerous groups. From 1953 to 1984 the plant has almost transported 100.000 persons, half of which were foreigners. In 1984, for the reasons previously cited, the chair lift was stopped for ever.

You must have gone there before 1984 when there was a chair lift.

Another point of interest is the Italian song, Funiculi Funicula was written to commemorate the funicular railway.




Maybe too late if you have returned now but did you go to the Greek temple at Paestum?  I thought it was very impressive for a Greek temple outside of Greece...



Unfortunately not. But we were on the go everyday. Guess you can't do it all.


Lovely trip Carole
"Vesuvius violently spewed  a deadly cloud of super-heated tephra and gases to a height of 33 km" - that's right up to the edge of space!  Amazingly violent and destructive.

I've not been there myself, but last year I skied with a guy who led skiing trips down Vesuvious.

Synta mount, a bunch of telescopes and a shed (on wheels).