Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joseph Wright of Derby - Vesuvius from Portici - Detail

Mount Vesuvius' eruption on Aug. 24, 79 CE was not the most destructive of any volcano in history. That title goes to the volcano located on the Greek island of Thera. Hundreds of megatons of ash and debris darkened every island and country within a radius of 1000 miles.

So if Vesuvius is not technically the worst eruption, why is it so important in history?

It is a reminder that people, cities, whole cultures can be erased from the earth almost without a trace. Vesuvius buried Herculaneum for so many years that the existence of the small city past into the realm of legend. Maybe that can never happened again: TV crews would be on hand to recording everything.

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