Around Mount Vesuvius 2020

 

Vesuvius is the king of the land around Naples.

Its double crater dominates the area - physically 1278 meters high,

but also psychologically.

More and more people are building houses on its slopes, moving closer to it,

while the city of Naples holds complex evacuation plans in place

to save the lives of some 4 million inhabitants

if ...

 

Every day dozens of earthquakes are recorded at Vesuvius.

Most of them below the perceptual limit, but tremors are there, constantly below the surface.

They're caused by magma ten kilometres deeper,

a bubble, which extends to the Phlegraean Fields 20 kilometres away.  

 

When you are at the top of the crater, you become aware of the elemental force.

The cone of the volcano is sealed by debris,

but there's something big deep down that moves and pushes up slightly.

Vapours rise, clouds of smoke smell like sulphur.

Rocks crack In the heat, boulders fall off.

Pressure and temperature move the earth, lifting and lowering it.

The Earth breathes, says volcanic physicist Dr. Eleonora Rivalta. 

The breath of black ashes covers the land hundreds of kilometres wide.

Even the beaches beyond the mountains are black, a black, glistening sand.

Naples itself was built of tuff.

The mineral-rich ash produces the most delicious fruits,

vegetables and excellent organic wine.

And thousands of people live directly from volcano tourism.

Drivers, guides, ticket sellers, car rental companies, souvenir stands, fishermen, cleaners, hoteliers, and pizza bakers.

Offers from the government to sell their homes and move out of the danger zone,

are rejected by the residents.

The danger zone is 18 kilometres,

In the red zone (eight kilometres) alone, 700,000 people still live.

The volcano is their home. 

 

How can you deal with things that smoulder underground?

 © JOANNA VORTMANN 2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED