The infamous volcano Mount Vesuvius…

Gulf of Naples, Italy

Dominating the landscape of the beautiful crescent-shaped bay of the Gulf of Naples, the only active volcano in mainland Europe towers 1,281 meters (4,203 feet) above the shoreline. Mount Vesuvius is known for spewing pumice rock and ash that buried the Roman town (and people) of Pompeii in the eruption of 79 AD.

Hiking Mt. Vesuvius and the view into the crater from the rim.
Looking into the crater of Mount Vesuvius.

Today, Vesuvius is a National Park with a trail to the rim of the volcano’s crater. We enjoyed leaving the noise and bustle of the city far below to walk in the scree and feel the energy of the earth. Steaming fumaroles spiraled up along the edge of the steep crater reminding us that Vesuvius could erupt again at any time. Lichens and small flowering plants have sprouted up along the walk since the last eruption in 1944. We hiked in and out of the clouds while exploring the rim, looking down at spectacular views of Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii and the islands in the Mediterranean.

Conversation starters

  1. Describe the plate boundary at the edge of Eurasia and Africa – why do volcanoes form along these kinds of convergent zones?
  2. How could we describe the slope of the steep volcanic cone?
  3. How is volcanic pumice rock different from other rock we’ve seen recently?

Links and resources

More about Mount Vesuvius

Mt. Vesuvius National Park

Road to Vesuvius crater.
The winding road up Mt. Vesuvius and the lovely view of Naples below.

Colliding plates of the Alps

We had a beautiful flight from London to Venice. How lucky we were to have a clear day in February to view the snowy expanse from above! As we crossed this amazing mountain range, we tried to guess which country was under us. We found an opportunity to discuss history, geology and geography while gazing at ridge lines, river valleys, glaciers and summits.

Gazing down at the Alps from high above inspires discussions covering social studies, science and government (and a deep desire to go trekking!)

  1. Describe the collision plate boundary which has created the Alps.
  2. How is the formation of this mountain range similar and different from other mountain ranges in the world?
  3. Which 8 countries share the Alps and what do you think defined their boundaries?