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Monte Nuevo - The Newest Volcano in the Phlegrean Fields


     Monte Nuovo is situated near the center of the area known as the Phlegrean Fields. The cone was formed in less than a week during a violent eruption that occurred in late September and early October 1538.  Due to the composition of the cone, it is known as a cinder cone (ash cone).  Above is a panoramic photo, taken from the top of the crater, that allows you to look down into the mouth of this inactive volcano.

    The soft walls of the crater are particularly susceptible to the eroding forces of wind and water. This cone is quite young and has not yet solidified.  Notice how the water has carved deep gouges in the walls of the crater. It is interesting to note that water does not accumulate in the crater.  One might expect that this crater would be full of water since there is no obvious way for the water to exit. However, because the cone is comprised of a loosely bound porous material and the lowest point is 14 meters above sea level the water percolates down through the earth.  

 These smaller photos  graphically explain some of the processes that were involved in the formation of Monte Nuovo.    

    The  stratification in the photo on the right was observed near the highest point of the crater. It is a fine example of the lighter pumice riding atop of the heavier basaltic materials in a pyroclastic flow (lava flow).  The lighter (both in color and density) material is pumice while the darker material is basaltic in origin.   

Long lines to get into the Vatican Museum - 17k

Looking up the spiral staircase - 18k

    The photo on the left shows a layer that has been formed by the fallout of basaltic bombs and capilli.  These igneous fragments range in size from 2 mm. to as large as 2m in diameter.  There may be larger bombs, however I did not see any.  This layer was formed during a brief period of violent eruptions.  It is the accumulation of semi-molten chunks of lava that were ejected into the sky during the eruption.
    On the left a basaltic lithic is lodged in the pumice strata. 

    Monte Nuovo is particularly interesting because it was formed very recently (less than 500 years ago).   The first hand accounts of the bradisismic uprising preceding the eruption combined with the observable physical evidence provide many clues that can be used to better understand the volcanic activity of the Phlegrean Fields.  

Looking down from the top of the spiral staircase - 22k Home | Italy MAPS | Academic Content | Links | About Us | Italy News | Italian Phrasebook | Italy Weather | Site Map

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