Mount Vesuvius is a somma-stratovolcano located about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes which form the Campanian volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure.

Dates back to 1841 (at the behest of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies) the foundation  of the Vesuvius Observatory dedicated to the volcano. For this reason, it is fair to say that modern volcanology as a scientific discipline was born in those years.

Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as several other settlements. More than 1,000 people died in the eruption, but exact numbers are unknown.  Vesuvius has erupted many times since and the last one occurred in 1944. The volcano started forming 25,000 years ago. Although the area has been subject to volcanic activity for at least 400,000 years, the lowest layer of eruption material from the Somma caldera lies on top of the 40,000 year old Campanian ignimbrite produced by the Campi Flegrei complex, and was the product of the Codola Plinian eruption 25,000 years ago.

It was then built up by a series of lava flows, with some smaller explosive eruptions interspersed between them. However, the style of eruption changed around 19,000 years ago to a sequence of large explosive Plinian eruptions, of which the AD 79 one was the most recent. The eruptions are named after the tephra deposits produced by them, which in turn are named after the location where the deposits were first identified, like the Avellino eruption 3,8000 years ago.

On August 24, in the year AD 79, Vesuvius erupted in one of the most catastrophic and famous eruptions of all time. The eruption was preceded by a powerful earthquake seventeen years beforehand on February 05 of AD 62, which caused widespread destruction around the Bay of Naples, and particularly to Pompeii.

The last major eruption was in March 1944. It destroyed the villages of San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma, Ottaviano, and part of San Giorgio a Cremano. From March 18 to 23, 1944, lava flows appeared within the rim. There were outflows. Small explosions then occurred until the major explosion took place on March 18, 1944


Vesuvius National Park is the national park centered on the active volcano Vesuvius, southeast from Naples. The park was founded on June 5,1995, and covers an area of around 135 square kilometers all located within the Province of Naples. It is centered on the active volcano and its most ancient (now inactive) crater, Monte Somma. It houses 612 vegetable species and 227 wildlife ones.