Mount Vesuvius Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Diehl

Elizabeth studied to be a special education teacher at Regis University, and received her masters in 2014.

Did you know that there are people today who live on a volcano in Europe? Let's learn about Mount Vesuvius, and how it became one of the most famous volcanoes ever.

What is Vesuvius?

Mount Vesuvius is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. Vesuvius is found on an island just off the coast of Naples, Italy. It is unique because it is the only active volcano in Europe. Vesuvius is classified as a stratovolcano, which means it has a cone-like shape and produces a lot of ash and lava when it erupts. Stratovolcanoes are also known to have long stretches of time where they do not erupt. They are a concern because while they do not erupt often, when they do, it is usually devastating. Also, because there are such long stretches between eruptions, many people forget they are living on a volcano.

Mount Vesuvius has a cone shape.
Mount Vesuvius

Living on a Volcano

The Romans moved to Mt. Vesuvius because the soil is very rich and good for farming. The grapes grown on Vesuvius today are famous for their flavor for this reason. Vesuvius also has beautiful landscapes and is not far from Naples, which is a large Italian city. Since no one could ever remember the volcano erupting, these were all great reasons for ancient Romans to live on the volcano.

The city of Pompeii
Pompeii Ruins

The First Recorded Eruption

It is documented that before its eruption, there were signs that the volcano might erupt at some point. Sometimes there were earthquakes, and ashes fell from the sky. The ancient people learned to live with these things, because they did not expect the mountain to erupt.

On the morning of August 24, 79 CE, people noticed there was a lot of smoke and the sky was dark from falling ashes. The next morning, Vesuvius erupted and covered the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum with ash and lava. Most of the people had escaped before the volcano erupted, but there were people who died and got fossilized under the ash and lava. No one was expecting the volcano to erupt so forcefully, or suddenly!

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