By Yara Aburaya
Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano located above the bay of Naples in Southern Italy. Some consider the volcano to be a super volcano because of its massive size: 4,203 feet (1,281 metres). It is because of its massive size that people are afraid of it.
How do we know if it is going to erupt?
The volcano was around and dormant even before the great Pompeii eruption that occurred way back to 79 CE. Scientists have noticed that the volcano’s last eruption was in March 1944 (towards the end of WW2).
Scientists have not been able to figure out a specific time that it will erupt, which means it could be any day. However, using small information on the condition of the volcano, such as the temperature of the magma, scientists predict that it is more likely to erupt in a few hundred years.
What happens if Mount Vesuvius erupts again?
Considering that the volcano is sitting on layers of deep magma, its eruption is viewed as extremely catastrophic with many dangerous short term and long term impacts. A few of the biggest impacts are:
- Mount Vesuvius could endanger more than 3 million people, and holds the power to completely wipe out the city of Naples as well as other cities.
- The amount of ash released from the volcano’s eruption will be so severe that it will form clouds of ash covering the sun, blocking sunlight from reaching the earth. This will lead to days of darkness however these will only last for a maximum of three days. It will also lead to what scientists call ‘a volcanic winter’ which means that because the sun is blocked by ash, the temperature of the earth will decrease rapidly for some time and will lead to a very long winter before the temperatures eventually become normal again.
- Certain parts of the world may have to undergo lockdown because of the severity of the ash and gases released from the volcano into the atmosphere (this could include the UK). Young children and the elderly will be most at risk of injury, as well as people with respiratory problems such as asthma.
- This also means that schools will close yet again and cause another major interruption in students’ education.
Why do people still decide to live near Mount Vesuvius?
Despite the certain danger of the volcano’s eruption, people still decide to live there. This is likely due to the soil near the volcano being extremely fertile, which is helpful to farmers and agriculture.
There are also 700,000 people residing illegally on the slopes of the mountain, which could be because they are poor and cannot afford to leave the country, or they can afford to leave the country but enjoy the views of the volcano as it is completely natural from the earth.
Many also think of the volcano as a tourist attraction, especially because the volcano is around 200,000 years old and has witnessed many historical events. Therefore, there are also many tourism jobs around that area, which attracts people who are looking for jobs.