l'osservatorio vesuviano sul vesuvio

Vesuvius Observatory

Vesuvius is the most dangerous volcano in the world and, for this reason, is constantly monitored by the Vesuvius Observatory.
Today, the Vesuvius Observatory is located in Via Diocleziano in the Fuorigrotta district of Naples. Here there is state-of-the-art equipment that collects, from the network of 100 monitoring stations installed on Vesuvius, data on the movement of the ground, the temperatures inside the crater and the composition of the gases released in the area.

At one time, the Vesuvius Observatory was located right on Vesuvius, between Herculaneum and Torre del Greco, at an altitude of 609 metres and at Km 6.5 of the ascent road. At the time, there was a need to have the Observatory in the vicinity of the volcano because the only instruments available were seismographs, which worked on site.

The old Vesuvius Observatory was housed in an old red building dating back to Bourbon times. The observatory was inaugurated in September 1845 and became the first volcanological observatory in the world to monitor volcanic and meteorological phenomena.

In 1911, the direction of the Vesuvius Observatory was taken over by Giuseppe Mercalli. His is the scale for measuring the intensity of earthquakes, still in use today, called the ‘Mercalli scale’.

Today, in the old building, it is possible to visit the volcanological museum.

Inside are scientific instruments of considerable historical value, used by scientists and researchers over the decades, including the first seismograph made by Luigi Palmieri, and other more recent ones in use until the 1980s.

In the new wing of the Vesuvius Observatory museum, the exhibition ‘Vesuvius 2000 years of observations’ can be viewed. Various information panels take visitors on a journey through the world of volcanoes, Vesuvius and the dangers according to the types of eruptions. In addition, the route allows visitors to observe seismic data in real time and, through the viewing of historical documents and various films, to retrace the salient stages in the history of Vesuvius (or rather the Somma-Vesuvius volcanological complex). Visits to the exhibition are accompanied by specialised personnel who educate visitors.

In addition, a rich collection of minerals, rocks and other artefacts can be admired in this new wing. Among them is a plaster cast of a victim from Pompeii, bearing witness to the tragic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

In the last part of the building, visitors can view the museum’s historical library, which contains texts on volcanology, seismology and meteorology.