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Vesuvius is a distinctive "humpbacked" mountain, consisting of a large cone (Gran Cono) partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure called Monte Somma. The Gran Cono was produced during the eruption of AD 79. For this reason, the volcano is also called Somma-Vesuvius or Somma-Vesuvio.

The height of the main cone has been constantly changed by eruptions but is 1,281 m (4,202 ft) at present. Monte Somma is 1,149 m (3,770 ft) high, separated from the main cone by the valley of Atrio di Cavallo, which is some 3 miles (5 km) long. The slopes of the mountain are scarred by lava flows but are heavily vegetated, with scrub and forest at higher altitudes and vineyards lower down. Vesuvius is still regarded as an active volcano, although its current activity produces little more than steam from vents at the bottom of the crater. Vesuvius is a stratovolcano at the convergent boundary where the African Plate is being subducted beneath the Eurasian Plate. Layers of lava, scoria, volcanic ash, and pumice make up the mountain. Their mineralogy is variable, but generally silica-undersaturated and rich in potassium, with phonolite produced in the more explosive eruptions.

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Additional Photos by Ovidiu Sotiriu (Schnappilic) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 600 W: 51 N: 1071] (9692)
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