Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2122/6656
AuthorsMastrolorenzo, G.* 
Petrone, P.* 
Pappalardo, L.* 
Guarino, F. M.* 
TitleLethal Thermal Impact at Periphery of Pyroclastic Surges: Evidences at Pompeii
Issue DateJun-2010
Series/Report no.6/5(2010)
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0011127
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/2122/6656
KeywordsLethal Thermal Impact
Pyroclastic Surges
Pompeii
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.05. Volcanic rocks 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.08. Volcanic risk 
05. General::05.02. Data dissemination::05.02.03. Volcanic eruptions 
05. General::05.08. Risk::05.08.01. Environmental risk 
AbstractBackground: The evaluation of mortality of pyroclastic surges and flows (PDCs) produced by explosive eruptions is a major goal in risk assessment and mitigation, particularly in distal reaches of flows that are often heavily urbanized. Pompeii and the nearby archaeological sites preserve the most complete set of evidence of the 79 AD catastrophic eruption recording its effects on structures and people. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we investigate the causes of mortality in PDCs at Pompeii and surroundings on the bases of a multidisciplinary volcanological and bio-anthropological study. Field and laboratory study of the eruption products and victims merged with numerical simulations and experiments indicate that heat was the main cause of death of people, heretofore supposed to have died by ash suffocation. Our results show that exposure to at least 250uC hot surges at a distance of 10 kilometres from the vent was sufficient to cause instant death, even if people were sheltered within buildings. Despite the fact that impact force and exposure time to dusty gas declined toward PDCs periphery up to the survival conditions, lethal temperatures were maintained up to the PDCs extreme depositional limits. Conclusions/Significance: This evidence indicates that the risk in flow marginal zones could be underestimated by simply assuming that very thin distal deposits, resulting from PDCs with poor total particle load, correspond to negligible effects. Therefore our findings are essential for hazard plans development and for actions aimed to risk mitigation at Vesuvius and other explosive volcanoes.
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