Mount Vesuvius is approximately 17,000 years old. It formed upon the site of a previous volcano. Vesuvius has a long history of eruptions, beginning with the first known eruption in 5960 B.C.
The most famous eruption occurred in 79 A.D., when Vesuvius destroyed the nearby Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabaie. This eruption was documented by Pliny the Younger. The eruption happened in two stages. The first stage ejected a 12-mile column of ash into the air, pummeling Pompeii with pumice. The second stage was more explosive and damaging. A cloud of volcanic ash and hot gas traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour destroyed everything it its path, including the remaining residents of Pompeii.