Exploring Earth's Volcanic Environments

Welcome, this is an educational website designed to help students learn about the processes of explosive volcanic activity through the use of inquiry-based techniques. The exercises use the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius volcano in Italy as a type example of a large explosive eruption that had a significant impact on the local human population. The eruption is well-known for the burial of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Excavation of these cities by archeologists have provided a unique view of everyday life in Roman times.

One of the great mysteries of Pompeii and Herculaneum is what was it like in these two cities during the fateful two-day eruption in 79 A.D. that led to their entombment for close to 2000 years? In the exercises that follow, you and your fellow students will play the role of a team of volcanologists who are trying to reconstruct the event by examing evidence in the volcanic material that buried the cities. You will take a virtual fieldtrip to the Vesuvius area where you will be able to carry out observations and measurements to help you form your own hypotheses about what happened.

The exercises will use the following sequence for the exploration of this unique volcanic environment:
1. View examples of explosive volcanism and examine the effects of the eruptions on the surrounding environnment
2. Learn how volcanologists study the products of explosive volcanism
3. Explore the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and collect field data from the excavations
4. Construct hypotheses about what happened to the cities during the eruption
University of Rhode Island

Funding provided by the National Science Foundation

Graduate School of Oceanography University of Rhode Island Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.