Hell on Earth – August 24, 79 AD

“Broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night… it was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night.” –Pliny the Younger, describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the early afternoon of August 24, 79 AD, from around 18 miles away in Misenum. This is a category  titus denarius. The volcano erupted in two dramatic, and very deadly, phases. The first, an eruption which shot columns of gas, pumice and volcanic ash into the stratosphere had a shape like a pine tree, and was subsequently named after Pliny the Elder (today called Plinian eruptions). This first phase, lasting 18-20 hours, punished the area with spewing its cloud 20+ miles upwa...

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