La Erupción del Monte Vesubio

La Erupción del Monte Vesubio

Hace 1941 años, un día como hoy en el año 79 d.C., el Monte Vesubio empezaba a cubrir con su manto de violencia, muerte, y destrucción las ciudades de Pompeya y Herculano, causando miles de víctimas y la desaparición de esas ciudades romanas para siempre hasta que luego de casi 17 siglos en el silencio y la oscuridad fueron desenterradas por los arqueólogos modernos. El Vesubio había estado dormido por siglos, pero de manera imprevista entró en erupción tapando a sus habitantes con una capa de pumita de tres metros de grosor y por el flujo de ceniza híper caliente.

El Vesubio es un volcán de tipo «Vulcaniano», es decir, que contiene lava muy viscosa que solidificada parcialmente hacia el lugar de emisión, se mezcla con nuevos flujos formando una costra; estas reacciones entre flujos más «fríos» y «calientes» originan la expulsión de nuevos materiales plutónicos en forma de finos fragmentos que son arrastrados por los gases desprendidos durante la erupción de manera violenta, formando las famosas nubes de cenizas que son capaces de «volver al día, noche», sepultando todo lo que se encuentre a su paso. El Etna, también en Italia, es otro volcán legendario que actúa de la misma forma «vulcaniana», de cimas empinadas y laderas suavemente inclinadas.

Los modelos de los cadáveres de un grupo de víctimas humanas de la erupción del Vesubio en el 79 d.C., encontrados en el llamado «Jardín de los fugitivos» en Pompeya.

Una de las erupciones más violentas de la historia que ha maravillado a los geólogos modernos por su impactante fuerza natural, capaz de borrar del mapa a ciudades enteras.

El Vesubio es una hermosa montaña, su forma es conocida como «cono compuesto», es decir, estratovolcán; compuesto por lava y depósitos piroclásticos. Estos estratovolcanes presentan magma con composición rica en sílice lo que provoca que la viscosidad de la misma, sea mucho mayor, ocasionando de esta forma, que recorren distancias muy cortas, esto, sumado a la gran cantidad de gases disueltos en el magma dentro del volcán originan los famosos flujos piroclásticos.

Por otro lado, la formación de estos conos compuestos se debe a que la lava expulsada por flancos del volcán tienden a fluir desde el interior de las fisuras provocadas por la actividad dentro del cono, a partir de aquí, las erupciones explosivas de material piroclástico más la expulsión de magma en forma de lava con alta viscosidad se alternan en periodos determinados, pero a veces, sucede el caso en que ambas actividades forman parte de una sola erupción, lo que hace imposible salvar la vida de las poblaciones y ciudades cercanas al volcán.

Eso ocurrió en el Vesubio en el año 79 de nuestra era. Estas actividades (flujos piroclásticos y lavas muy viscosas) se relacionan entre sí para hacer crecer el cono de estos volcanes a lo largo de cientos de años. Pero sumado a esto, los vulcanólogos modernos piensan que lo peor se vino con las coladas de gas caliente y asfixiante cargado con cenizas, a una velocidad desopilante, nadie puede escapar a una situación semejante; algo que habíamos visto en el anterior artículo en el que mencionábamos la historia de la erupción del Monte Santa Helena en Estados Unidos.

Uno de los sabios e intelectuales más grandes de la antigüedad por su extrema curiosidad arriesgó su propia vida y finalmente también murió, se llamaba Plinio El Viejo, que fue testigo presencial de la fuerza castastrófica del dios Vesubio. Muchos habitantes fallecieron asfixiados por la inhalación de gases tóxicos cargados de cenizas, a otros, directamente en un abrir y cerrar de ojos desaparecieron.

A pesar de que se lo advirtieron, quiso observar esa erupción de cerca, fue el primer vulcanólogo conocido y un verdadero héroe de la ciencia como pocos, solo comparable al héroe moderno David A. Johnston que fue enterrado durante la erupción del Monte Santa Helena en 1980.

Fuentes:

  • Melendez, Bermudo y Fuster, José María. Geología. «Cap. XVIII – Vulcanismo y Rocas Volcánicas» (pp. 541-567) PARANINFO. 4ta. Edición – Madrid, España. 1978.
  • Tarbuck, Edward J. y Lutgens, Frederick K. Ciencias de la Tierra UNA INTRODUCCIÓN A LA GEOLOGÍA FÍSICA. «Cap. 5 – Los volcanes y otra actividad ígnea» (pp. 136-151) Pearson – Prentice Hall. Octava Edición. Madrid, España. 2005

Gabriel Ojeda

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