Monday, April 03, 2006

Ten billion tonnes???

10,000,000,000

1010

I can't even imagine even ten thousand or ten million tonnes of anything...
The average car weighs ONE tonne...

But ten billion tonnes is how much ash and pumice were spewed out by Mount Vesuvius.

Rescue parties from Rome were so overwhelmed by the destruction, they just turned back in despair and Pompeii faded from memory.
It was discovered by chance in 1954 during the building of an aqueduct.

























Mt Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples



I knowwwww, I only blogged about the super volcano a week ago...but...last weekend I saw the docudrama about Pompeii's last day.

Remember when I was in there in December, I wanted to cry when I saw some of the casts:



























(I want to replace this pic with a more artistic version)





In the last stages, some died from breathing hydrochloric acid.

Then there was the pyroclastic flow.
The first breath burned the lungs, causing them to fill with fluid. Breathing fire.
The second breath took in ash which created a cement-like mix. Suffocation.
The third breath solidified it. Slow death.

In other areas, there was the superheated gas which vapourised flesh, caused the brain to boil, and teeth and bones to explode.


Such blasts only occur once every 2,000 years. The original inhabitants did not know that Vesuvius was a volcano. The first readers of Pliny's account did not even believe his story. This must mean that the mountain's previous eruption occurred before written history.

The ancients did not know disaster like we do...

Today, 3 million people live in the shadow of Vesuvius.
79 AD...
























Half her original size and still intimidating

Meantime I am writing a post on 20six about the
Art of Letters

10 comments:

Rebecca said...

Have you read "Pompeii"? It's a novel, but it's account of the days leading up to the eruption, of the what was actually happening with the volcano, are fascinating. Much fun.

The first time I went to Pompeii the bodies made me physically shiver. I've been back since and they are still incredibly striking.

I don't remember if you went to Herculaneum? It is so well-preserved, truly fascinating!

Olivia said...

I enjoy a good historical novel :)

Have you read "London" by Edward Rutherfurd?

A lot of historical things make me physically shiver too.

Oh, and I would have preferred to go to Herculaneum for that very reason.

negrito said...

I did not know about this blog, it is also great !!!!!

negrito said...

you were there for Xmas? that s a great idea :)

Jia Li said...

didn't u blog abou this before?

I just blogged on Jello

Rebecca said...

I don't know "London", but I will check it out. Thanks.

Before I forget: could you email me your postal address pretty please?

Olivia said...

Negrito - welcome, and thank you!
My mother and I spent 10 days on the Neapolitan coast last Christmas.

Jia Li - I blogged about the super volcano at Yellowstone before, not Vesuvius.

I will check out Jello.

Rebecca - as usual, I am behind on my recommended book list. Hehe, and we never did get started on the book and movie canon last year :)

Leilouta said...

" I want to replace this picture with a more artistic version"
I think that picture is great. I love everything about it especially the background.

Chris in MB said...

Damn are you lucky.
I've only dreamed of such a trip.

It's interesting about Pliny. His natural history writings documented all sorts of mythical beasts in Africa & such that was accepted, but few believed his account of pyroclastic flow in their own back yard! I even think his uncle(?) Pliny the elder died on a ship travelling to the site for a rescue attempt.

Rebecca said...

The canon! That must come in to force. We need a space, hmmm... I'll see if I can add anything to my xanga site but I am illiterate in such matters.
It can be a referral tool - books to read and films to see when you don't know what to choose.