Matt Vesuvius

1st April 2012

Early on the morning of Thursday 22nd March, I departed from Gatwick North Terminal bound for Naples. This time I was not heading for a swimming pool in Italy, but to go and study the geological features in and around the bay of Naples.

From the airport in Naples, 19 other geology students, 2 teachers and I headed not to the hotel but to the crater of an active volcano called Solfatara. There we found a desolate landscape containing many sulphur vents, emitting sulphur gas at about 160 degrees Celsius. From Sulfatara we travelled to the ruins of a Roman marketplace located on the coast of the bay of Naples. After a long, exhausting first day we headed to the hotel, located in Sorrento, to try and get some sleep.

On Friday we had yet another busy day ahead of us. After breakfast we headed to the ruins of Pompeii, which was buried in a pyroclastic flow from the 79AD eruption of Mt Vesuvius. The geologists that work there still have not fully excavated the site, choosing to preserve and restore their current findings first. It is like walking through a city that has been frozen in time! After our tour of Pompeii had ended we proceeded to climb Mt Vesuvius itself. The coach drove up the first 3000 feet of the mountain and then we had to climb a steep path for a further 1000 feet to reach the crater at the top. After descending from the crater we visited the old Vesuvius observatory (the first volcanic observatory ever constructed and has never been destroyed in an eruption) to learn how scientists attempt to predict volcanic eruptions.

On Saturday, we had another early start as we caught a hydrofoil boat to the isle of Capri, which is located on the edge of the Gulf of Naples. The weather was yet again brilliant, with 24 degrees Celsius and a clear blue sky above us, we set off in a minibus to explore the two villages on the isle of Capri. There wasn’t much geology to study but there were some excellent views and lots of gelato!

On our final day in Italy we drove down the 22 mile, world famous Amalfi coastal road. The scenery was breath taking, with the road only wide enough to allow the flow of traffic in one direction and shear drops at the edge of the road. After stopping in the town of Amalfi, which marked the end of the coastal road, we returned to the airport to fly back to Gatwick.

It was a truly fantastic trip!