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A stunning satellite image shows Mount Vesuvius peering through a hole in the clouds.

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Mount Vesuvius, one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes, appears to "peer up" into the sky through an eerily circular hole in the clouds in this stunning satellite image.

The photo was taken by the Landsat-8 satellite's Operational Land Imager and was released on January 10 by NASA's Earth Observatory. The new image clearly shows the volcano's summit caldera — a large bowl-like depression formed when a volcano erupts and collapses — as well as a section of large mountainous ridge to the north, which is a remnant of Mount Somma — an ancient volcano that once stood in the same spot as Mount Vesuvius before the newer volcano's cone grew from its centre.

Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano, which means that its cone is made up of layers of lava and ash from previous eruptions. It is part of the Campanian volcanic arc, a chain of volcanoes in Italy that sits on a tectonic plate boundary where the African plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian plate. 

It consists of numerous active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes on land and underwater, including Mount Etna in Sicily, which erupted again in February 2021.

In A.D. 79, Vesuvius' most famous eruption simultaneously destroyed and preserved the Roman city of Pompeii and the neighbouring town Herculaneum. Lava flows from its most recent eruption in 1944, on the other hand, destroyed the nearby village of San Sebastiano. According to the Earth Observatory, Mount Vesuvius has had eight major eruptions in the last 17,000 years, based on geological analysis of the layers of lava surrounding it.

Mount Vesuvius is still classified as an active volcano, even though it has been quiet since its last eruption. It occasionally experiences shaking from belowground earthquake activity and gas venting from its summit. 

It is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the planet because any future eruption could destroy Naples, an Italian city located 7.5 miles (12 kilometres) northwest of the volcano and home to more than 3 million people. 

Mount Vesuvius was described as "Europe's ticking time bomb" in a study published in the journal Nature in 2011.

NASA and the US Geological Survey both operate the Landsat-8 satellite that captured the image.