Mount Vesuvius is an Italian volcano that first erupted in A.D 79, burying towns and residents of Stabiae, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on Europe's mainland, and it has produced some of the largest volcanic eruptions on the continent.
Mount Vesuvius forms part of the Campanian Arc, which sits on the tectonic boundary created by the convergence of the African and Eurasian plates.
Scientists regard the mountain as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to the large population in the city of Naples and surrounding towns located on its slopes. They classify it as a complex stratovolcano because its eruption involves explosive outbursts as well as pyroclastic flows.
After A.D. 79, the volcano erupted around every 100 years until 1037. Starting in 1631, the volcano entered a period of steady volcanic activity, with lava flows and eruptions of mud and ash. In 1944 during the World War II, an eruption occurred that caused major problems for the Allied forces in Italy. Ash and rocks from the eruption destroyed planes and forced evacuations at a nearby airbase.
Mount Vesuvius is famous because it is one of the first volcanoes to have an eruption described in detail. Pliny, a naturalist, witnessed the first eruption and wrote down its description. Modern volcanologists use the term "Plinian" to describe large, violent eruptions that produce clouds of ash, rocks and gases that rise many miles in the atmosphere.