Vesuvius Observatory

Founded in 1841 by King Ferdinand II of Bourbon, the Vesuvius Observatory is the oldest volcanological observatory in the world. Since 2001 is the section of Naples National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, one of the operational structures that gives the Department of Civil Protection scientific and technical support. In particular, its work focuses on the volcanoes of the Naples: Ischia, Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields and Stromboli for which it carries out scientific research, surveillance, supervision 24/7, teaching and dissemination.

Being volcanoes at high risk - due to explosive eruptions and proximity to large urban areas - the Centre aims at allowing a short-term forecasting more accurate and timely. For this reason, the surveillance system has been adapted over the years to the development of volcanic and technological knowledge.

The surveillance system includes geophysical and geochemical networks: the first ones monitor seismic activity, ground deformation and gravimetric and magnetic field variations and the latter control the changes in the composition and temperature of the gases emitted from fumaroles, soil and from groundwater.

Control of seismic activity. The Vesuvius Observatory carries out the control of seismic volcanic areas through a network of seismic stations, active in the Vesuvius, Ischia and the Phlegraean area. The network consists of a number of fixed seismic stations, distributed on the surface of the Earth and, in part, to the surrounding areas. In the event of increased activity the network is enhanced with the addition of seismic stations furniture. In particular, in each station there are some sensors that detect the motion of the soil and transferring real-time data collected by the Centre for Surveillance, where they are received, analyzed and interpreted.

Control of ground deformations. The Vesuvius Observatory carries out the control of ground deformation in the three active volcanoes in the Campania through networks of precision leveling, clinometrical tide gauge and GPS (satellite).

Control of the gravimetric field. Measures the acceleration of gravity allows to evaluate any changes in the gravimetric field, indicative of shifts in the magnetic masses in the subsurface. Gravimetric networks controlled by the Vesuvius are in operation at Campi Flegrei, Vesuvius and Ischia.

Geochemical control. Networks control the geochemical composition of the fumaroles, gases emanating from the soil and water sources. The purpose of these measures is to highlight changes over time of those chemical species that essentially freed from the magma, are of significant parameters, where changes can herald the resumption of the eruptive activity. Hydrometric station, also, control the level and the temperature of the water in the Vesuvius and Phlegraean.

The Vesuvius Observatory was founded in 1841 by King Ferdinand II of Bourbon. The first director of physical structure is the Macedonio Melloni, then deposed for his involvement in the political movements of 1848. In 1855, the Director of the Observatory is entrusted to the physicist Luigi Palmieri, dedicated to the study of atmospheric electricity and the idea first electromagnetic seismograph, capable of measuring amplitude, duration and origin of earthquakes.
In 1903, after the death of Palmieri, the Director of the Observatory goes to Raffaele Matteucci geologist who is working with courage and observation of the phenomena of the 1906. From 1911 to 1914, directs the structure of the director Giuseppe Mercalli, which in those years dedicated to volcanology and seismology, working on his scale intensity of the earthquakes and the classification of volcanic eruptions. In 1927 he was director of the physicist Alessandro Mallandra, then, in 1935, the task goes to Joseph Imbò studying in particular seismology Vesuvius, being able to predict the approaching eruption of 1944.

Since 2001, the Vesuvius Observatory is a section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology and the historic building is home to the Museum of the Vesuvius Observatory.