The city of Pompeii was inscribed in history books ever since 79 CE when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The some-2,000 people who faced the unexpected doom suffered from asphyxiation from the unstoppable ash which filled every crevice in its path. The volcanic tephra would go on to cover the vicinity, ultimately covering the inhabitants in it and preserving them in the well-recognized Pompeii human castings.
Pompeii was not the immediate city in the deadly path of the eruption. Herculaneum, a town right on the base of the volcano was pulverized almost immediately as agreed by historians. Pompeii was 6 miles away, giving the city more leeway in terms of survival, and that is what historians and archeologists alike agreed on. The plaster casts that are shown in countless museums in Naples and Rome may offer clues into how they died, a new study from the University of Bari reveals.
Previous studies have suggested that the poses of the people who seem to be frozen in action may point to rigor mortis inducing heat blasts that scorched the ancient inhabitants within a fraction of a second. While spurs of 570°F volcanic debris may be a plausible theory, no researcher has ever been able to estimate the amount of time it took to reach Pompeii.
But one thing stood out within the archeological findings surrounding the eruption; clothing. After testing the fabrics for volcanic material, along with geographic mapping of the analyzed samples, a new model of the eruption was made; a pyroclastic flow cloud, which had a temperature of around 212°F, likely engulfed the city for "10-20 minutes after the eruption."
“This duration is quite long when compared to a couple of minutes considered as a survivable time for people engulfed in a pyroclastic density current, even at low temperatures" Roberto Isaia, the author of the study commented. With a greater understanding of historical eruptions, evacuation measures for inhabitants living in close proximity to volcanoes prone to eruptions could be developed. Hopefully, history will not be repeating itself any time soon.