PISA, Italy, May 16 (UPI) -- An emergency preparedness "risk map" of Mount Vesuvius, Europe's only active volcano, has been prepared, Italian geologists said.
The map of 650 square kilometers (251 square miles) -- including the mountain and the nearby city of Naples -- was prepared by researchers from Pisa and Bari Universities, and "permits the first major preliminary evaluation of the areas potentially at risk," a Pisa University statement said.
The analysis, a first for Vesuvius, is based on 500 years of land movement around the famous volcano, which has erupted about three dozen times since it buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD, killing about 2,000 people. The most serious eruption killed about 4,000 people in 1631 AD.
Despite its relative inactivity in recent times and repeated assurances by authorities that Vesuvius is not poised to erupt and pour lava and ash onto Naples -- though vulcanologist Franco Barberi recently noted Naples residents would be evacuated smoothly if it did -- the city endures occasional panics.
The most recent panic occurred in 2008, when a loud bang, caused by sonic booms of fighter planes, was heard over the city. The overloaded eruption hotline informed worried callers the noise had nothing to do with the volcano.