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City of Destruction: The Final Moments of Pompeii
Artist's rendition of the volcano erupting over Pompeii
Published: 1:12 PM - 08-30-11

Many didnít have the chance to flee the volcano as it spewed ash 20 miles into the air like rain. They tried their best to huddle and protect loved ones from the impending doom of destruction. It wasnít enough. In 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius erupted, killing those in Pompeii and its sister city Herculaneum.

Everything was buried under a mountain of ash. The volcano would continue to erupt nearly every 100 years until about 1037 A.D. Sleep seemed to hush the turbulence of the volcano until 1631, when it decided to awaken and consume 4,000 more inhabitants.

For 1,600 years, the ruins of Pompeii lay undisturbed until restoration after the 1631 eruption went underway. Almost 300 years of excavations would reveal the devastating history of Pompeiiís final moments.

As the people of Pompeii went about their business, the afternoon of August 24, 79 A.D. shook with a tremendous force. Ash, rock, and pumice began to pummel the Earth. A monstrous cloud began to envelop Pompeii. The inhabitants became frightened. Victims tried to flee, some with pillows tied to their heads to ward of the assault of falling debris.

Victim seemed to know the end was near

By the 25th of August, roofs of houses began to collapse under the weight of the pumice. While many of Pompeiiís residents managed to escape, about 2,000 died from the eruptions suffocating on ash, or being the victim of falling debris.

Victims bodies, perfectly preserved by volcanic ash still lay where they fell so many years ago

When excavators began the task of clearing Pompeii, they discovered that not much had changed. The victims remained much as they did in death. Their bodies had been hollowed out, leaving only empty cavities.

The agony of Pompeii victim is clearly visible in the throes of death

To immortalize the fragile remains, they were filled with plaster. Many of the bodies show the horror stricken faces and contorted bodies. They have become the reminders of what could be a possibility in the future.

Victims of Pompeii

Although the volcano is relatively young (about 25,000 years), it is active for its age. Volcanologists and geologists monitor the volcano around the clock to know when to clear those in the red zone (those closest to the line of fire). The last time Vesuvius erupted was in 1944, and only killed 26 people.

Considering the volcano rests on top of a layer of magma deep in the earth, measuring 154 sq miles, the next eruption could be as catastrophic as Pompeii.

When will the Vesuvius erupt again?

Edited by: Brenda Booth
permanent link: http://www.mysterycasebook.com/2011/pompeii.html

source & references: by Lost in Arizona in History



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