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The Daily Volcano Quote: Herculaneum overflowed by ashes 8 April 2009

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It was not by the lava, or fiery stream of melted stones, that Herculaneum was first overflowed. It was first covered by the burning ashes belched forth by the mountain, and next by torrents of water, which to the ashes, that first fell on it, added all those that fell on the mountain itself; and left the whole upon this wretched city … After this last had been covered with showers of ashes, and deluged with torrents of water, there broke out fiery streams of lava, which, rolling slowly, spread over the former by degrees, and formed a kind of crust over it. In the terrible eruption of 1631, which had been preceded by a calm of one hundred years, the ashes were likewise followed by a lava.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Critical Account of the Situation and Destruction by the First Eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, of Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Stabia (1764; English translation, London, 1771), pp. 15-6.

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1. Boris Behncke - 8 April 2009

interesting quotes you are citing here – as usually. But we should note that most of the destruction and death wrought by the AD79 and 1631 eruption of Vesuvius was due to pyroclastic flows, which obviously were not known at the time this bit was written. Unfortunately, the notion of Herculaneum buried by lahars (mudflows) rather than pyroclastic flows is widespread still today, although the history of the AD 79 eruption has been rewritten more than 30 years ago. Neither the AD 79 nor the 1631 eruptions produced any lava, they were purely explosive.
Keep up the good work!

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