Wednesday, August 24, 2011
On This Day: Mt. Vesuvius Erupts - The Ghosts of Pompeii
The next morning, on August 24, Mt. Vesuvius started to erupt and the city once full of frivolity was now set into a frenzy trying to evacuate. The entire event took approximately 19 hours with 6 of those hours being a steady rain of tephra. The total accumulation of the tephra was 25 meters deep. The town of Pompeii had been silenced.
1,700 years later archaeologists began to uncover Pompeii and discovered many buildings, tools, and even artwork preserved under the volcanic ash. One archaeologist noticed there were large holes in the ash and realized that the holes were actually the forms of the bodies before they had decomposed. Plaster was injected into the holes, which resulted in an eerie discovery. The ash and pumice that buried the people of Pompeii preserved forever their last moments on earth and their eternal death masks.
A wide spread belief was that the Pompeii citizens died of ash suffocation, but that is not the case. The true cause of death was Thermal Shock. The people were exposed to heat at 250 degree Celsius at a distance of 10 kilometers and their death was instantaneous. No manner of shelter could protect them.
Kerri L. Schultz