Mt. Vesuvius, one of the best known volcanoes in the world primarily for the eruption that buried the Roman city of Pompeii, is shown in the center of this radar image. The central cone of Vesuvius is the dark purple feature in the center of the volcano. This cone is surrounded on the northern and eastern sides by the old crater rim, called Mt. Somma. Recent lava flows are the pale yellow areas on the southern and western sides of the cone. Vesuvius is part of a large volcanic zone which includes the Phalagrean Fields, the cluster of craters seen along the left side of the image. The Bay of Naples, on the left side of the image, is separated from the Gulf of Salerno, in the lower left, by the Sorrento Peninsula. Dense urban settlement can be seen around the volcano. The city of Naples is above and to the left of Vesuvius; the seaport of the city can be seen in the top of the bay. Pompeii is located just below the volcano on this image. The rapid eruption in 79 A.D. buried the victims and buildings of Pompeii under several meters of debris and killed more than 2,000 people. Due to the violent eruptive style and proximity to populated areas, Vesuvius has been named by the international scientific community as one of fifteen Decade Volcanoes which are being intensively studied during the 1990s.
The image is centered at 40.83 degrees North latitude, 14.53 degrees East longitude. It shows an area 100 kilometers by 55 kilometers (62 miles by 34 miles.) This image was acquired on April 15, 1994 by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. SIR-C/X-SAR, a joint mission of the German, Italian and the United States space agencies, is part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth.