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Pompeii, Vesuvius, and the Flaming Fields

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG2005
Section 001
Instructor Karen Holmberg
Days F
Time 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SCI



Pompeii is most often taught about from an art historical vantage that focuses on museum-quality material remains and views the AD 79 event as an isolated, catastrophic event. In this course, we will examine that eruption as part of long-term and ongoing volcanic activity in the Bay of Naples area that has cultural importance, not only in the Bronze Age and Roman period, but also in the 21st century and beyond. Students will become familiar with the differences in risk perception inherent to a monumental volcano like Vesuvius versus the less perceptible but intense risk held when human settlements are placed in a caldera such as the Campi Flegrei. We will, together, examine the difficulty in conveying scientific data regarding that risk to different stakeholders and community members. This course will include a series of live video interviews with the volcanologists from the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) to understand the geophysical ‘personality’ of Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei, and Ischia volcanoes through the eyes of the scientist who study it on a daily basis. Our examinations of the broader volcanic landscape will include the 1944 Vesuvius eruption, the Solfatara-Pischiarelli hydrothermal system, the bradyseism (uplift and descent) events from 1968-72 and 1982-84 that prompted the evacuation of the town of Pozzuoli, and the growing role of geotourism and volcanic viniculture. We will examine the geological past, contemporary and future risks, and rewards of living in this unique volcanic landscape.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)