Vesuvius is located less than 12km south-east of the city of Naples and about 10 km from Pompei, in a area populated since ancient times. Thanks to direct evidence throughout history, it has been possible to gather a variety of reports on its activities, making it one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum and Stabia.

The Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex consists of an older building, Somma, characterized by a caldera, and a younger cone, Vesuvius, which grew up within the caldera after the eruption of Pompei in 79 AD.

The last major eruption was in 1944. Since then the volcano has been in a quiescent stage characterized only by low seismicity and fumarolic activity. No precursory phenomena indicate a possible resumption of the eruptive activity in the short-term. Vesuvius is monitored 24 hours a day by the monitoring network of the Vesuvius Observatory, Naples section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (Ingv).

In order to safeguard the lives of 700 thousand people living on the slopes of the volcano, the Department has developed a National Plan of emergency with the collaboration of all the components and operational structures of the National Service of Civil Protection.

At the moment, the alert level of the Vesuvius is green, namely, no anomalous phenomenon is occurring with regard to the ordinary activity of the volcano.

The last eruption of Vesuvius, in 1944, marked the end of a period of volcanic activity with an open conduit and the beginning of a period of quiescence, with an obstructed conduit. From 1944 to the present day, the volcano has given only fumarolic activity and seismic swarms of moderate energy, without deformation of the ground or significant changes in the physical and chemical parameters of the system.

Every month the Civil Protection Department organizes videoconferences with the Centre of competence in charge of monitoring the volcanic activity on Vesuvius: the Vesuvius Observatory of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (Ingv) and the Institute for the electromagnetic survey of the environment (Irea) of the CNR-National Research Council. The Directorate General for the government of the territory, public works and civil protection of the Campania Region also participates in the videoconferences.

On the basis of the phenomena and risk assessments provided by the Centers of Competence, the Department of Civil Protection declares the levels of alert and operational phases in close collaboration with the structure of civil protection of the Campania Region, after hearing the opinion of the Major Risks Commission - Volcanic Risk Sector.

At the outcome of the videoconferences, the Department issues a document reporting the results of the videoconferences.

Currently the level of alert for Vesuvius is green.

Throughout history, Vesuvius has been marked by alternating periods of eruptive activity with open duct, and rest periods with blocked duct, characterized by the absence of eruptive activity and accumulation of magma in a magma chamber in depth.

These periods are interrupted by very energetic eruptions, which are then followed by periods of open duct activity with frequent effusive eruptions or explosive eruptions with low energy.

The 1631 eruption has interrupted a break that lasted for nearly five centuries. From 1631 to 1944 volcanic eruptions have been constant and interspersed with rest periods of a few years.
According to recent studies, the most likely volcanic event most likely to happen is a violent strombolian eruption (VEI = 3), with relapse of pyroclastic materials and the formation of mudflows or lahars. Moreover, a research conducted from geophysical surveys has not detected the presence of a magma chamber surface with sufficient volume to generate an plinian eruption. Therefore an event of this type is unlikely to happen.

On the basis of these observations, the committee in charge of updating the Plan has determined that the reference scenario is a sub-Plinian-type event, similar to that of 1631 and comparable to the one examined in the previous Plan. This scenario involves the formation of a sustained eruptive column several kilometers high, the fall of volcanic bombs and blocks immediately around the crater and particles smaller - ash and lapilli - up to several tens of kilometers away, and the training pyroclastic flows that would flow down the slopes of the volcano for several kilometers.

Based on this scenario, areas - for which it was designed a National Plan of emergency which provides differentiated actions - potentially subject to various phenomena expected have been identified.

The Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex consists of an older building, Somma, characterized by a caldera, and a younger cone, Vesuvius, which grew up within the caldera after the eruption of Pompei in 79 AD.

The eruptive history of Somma-Vesuvius, whose age is less than 39,000 years, can be divided into distinct periods, each characterized by different types of activity.

Between 39,000 and 20,000 years ago, the activity was characterized mainly by effusive eruptions and then explosive eruptions of low energy. The formation of the ancient volcano, the current Monte Somma, dates back to this period.

A major change in the type of volcanic activity occurred about 19,000 years ago, when an activity predominantly effusive was replaced by an explosive activity. Around 18,000 years ago, in fact, after a long period of rest, the first and largest Plinian eruption (Basic Pomici) took place. Other large Plinian eruptions, all preceded by long periods of inactivity, there have been up to the famous eruption of Pompei in 79 AD (Pomici of Mercato, 8,000 years; Avellino pumice, 3,500 years).

The eruption of 79 AD occurred after a three century rest of the volcano,and was one of the most violent and destructive in the history of Vesuvius. It has been defined plinian after Pliny the Younger, who gave us a description of the event. The eruption, which lasted less than two days, emitted into the atmosphere about 4 cubic km of ash and lapilli; the activity was characterized by several phases that produced different effects on the territory, up to distances of hundreds of kilometers from the volcano and with catastrophic consequences for Pompei, Herculaneum and Stabia.
After the eruption of 79 AD there have been numerous strombolian eruptions and effusive that led to the gradual building of the Great Cone of Vesuvius and the emplacement of lava flows on the slopes south and west of the volcano. The eruptive activity has since experienced two significant periods of rest, followed in both cases by explosive events of great energy, such as the eruption of 472 and that of 1631, of subplinian nature. During the 1631 eruption the whole range of countries between the town of Pollena in the northern area, and that of Torre Annunziata in the south-west, was devastated by the flow of pyroclastic flows that killed more than 5 thousand people.

In the period between 1631 and 1906, when there was one of two events of increased energy of the last century, the volcano showed almost continuous strombolian activity, associated with effusive activity. The event of 1906 was characterized by explosive and effusive activity of varying intensity and caused numerous deaths and injuries to the collapse of roofs as a result of the accumulation of ashes.

The 1944 eruption closes a period of more or less continuous in open tube, the event is characterized by effusive and explosive activity, caused the death of 21 people in the collapse of the roofs and the almost total destruction of the countries of San Sebastian, Massa di Somma and Terzigno.

Scholars believe that the eruption of 1944 marked the end of a period of activity in open tube and the beginning of a period of quiescence duct obstructed. From 1944 to date, Vesuvius has only fumarolic activity and seismic swarms of moderate energy, without ground deformation or significant changes in physical and chemical parameters of the system.