Click of the Wrist – Vesuvius

Almost two millennia ago, Mount Vesuvius exploded in a legendary volcanic eruption that instantly destroyed the two cities thriving near its base. What exactly happened that day?and how can scientists predict when the next big eruption will be? Click through this week’s links to find out.


Pliny the Younger’s letters, which describe what he saw from a distance, make a unique eyewitness account. This narrated video brings his writings to life. Also be sure to check out this hour-by-hour timeline of events, created based on findings from archaeological excavations in the area.

Extreme Heat

Scientists formerly believed that the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum were asphyxiated by the toxic gases. However, a few years ago a study was published showing that the archaeological record in fact suggests that the citizens were instantly killed by heat. National Geographic has the details.


Ever wanted to explore a volcano?from a safe distance? Discovery Channel’s Volcano Explorer lets you do just that. This interactive site explains the science behind volcanoes and their eruptions. Better still, its ?Virtual Volcano? app allows you to change gas content levels and magma viscosity to change the type and intensity of your virtual volcano’s eruption.

The Future

Volcanologists believe that Vesuvius? next eruption?the last one was in 1944?will be a big one. But how exactly do scientists predict when a volcano will blow? This PBS page gives us a glimpse at the tools and methods volcanologists use in predicting eruptions.