Huge Vesuvius Eruption Buried Town 2,000 Years Before Pompeii
On the volcanic plains east of Naples, Italy, archaeologists have made an unusual discovery: thousands of prehistoric footprints in a layer of volcanic ash.
These footprints are just one of several archaeological finds indicating that the still-active Vesuvius is capable of far worse eruptions than anything disaster planners in nearby Naples are currently prepared for.
Vesuvius is best known as the volcano that buried the ancient Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79.
But the newly found footprints date to a prior eruption approximately 3,800 years ago.
Nobody knows how many people lived in the area at that time, but it might have been as many as 10,000, says Michael Sheridan, a geologist at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.
What is known is that everyone left in a hurry when the mountain erupted.
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