While it is not possible to know who first discovered volcanoes, the earliest record of a volcanic eruption was written by Roman author Pliny the Younger. He described the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius in such detail that geologists refer to large volcanic eruptions as "Plinian" in his honor.
Twenty-five years after the eruption of Vesuvius, which swallowed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Pliny the Younger wrote two letters to historian Tacitus describing the Vesuvius eruption which caused the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder. The 79 A.D. eruption remains one of the best-known eruptions in history. It killed more than 16,000 people, who suffocated on the ash from eruption. Mount Vesuvius remains one of the most-dangerous volcanoes of the world and the only active volcano in mainland Europe.