Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"The music's playing, the notes are right;
Put your left foot first and move into the light."
~Genesis, "Dance on a Volcano"
Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. Located along the southern shore of the island, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. Kīlauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983.
Over The Volcano
Formerly reckoned on Aug 24th, but recently corrected by scientists to a more accurate date, October 17th is Volcano Day, marking the anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79.
After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupted in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands. The cities, buried under a thick layer of volcanic material and mud, were never rebuilt and largely forgotten in the course of history until the 18th century, when rediscovered and excavated, providing an stunning archaeological record of the everyday life of an ancient civilization.
At noon on October 17th, 79 A.D., the peak of Mount Vesuvius exploded, propelling a 10-mile mushroom cloud of ash and pumice into the stratosphere. For the next 12 hours, volcanic ash and a hail of pumice stones up to 3 inches in diameter showered Pompeii, forcing the city’s occupants to flee in terror. Some 2,000 people stayed in Pompeii, holed up in cellars or stone structures, hoping to wait out the eruption.
A westerly wind protected Herculaneum from the initial stage of the eruption, but a subsequent giant cloud of hot ash and gas surged down the western flank of Vesuvius, engulfing the city and burning or asphyxiating all who remained. This lethal cloud was followed by a flood of volcanic mud and rock, burying the city.
The people who remained in Pompeii were killed when a cloud of toxic gas poured into the city, suffocating all that remained. A flow of rock and ash followed, collapsing roofs and walls and burying the dead.
Much of what we know about the eruption comes from an account by Pliny the Younger, who was staying west along the Bay of Naples when Vesuvius exploded. Pliny, only 17 at the time, escaped the catastrophe and later became the noted Roman writer and administrator.
Today, Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland. Its last eruption was in 1944 and its last major eruption was in 1631.
Touring volcanoes, especially the famous Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii by helicopter is a thrilling trip for the adventurous.
Today vulcanologists use drones to monitor active volcanoes by tracking lava flow paths, producing elevation models of the changing landscapes, taking thermal images, tracking the gases released at active sites, as well as sending back stunning video.
For fascinating drone footage from the over the erupting Bardarbunga Volcano in central Iceland, click the still of the drone flight!
For the Over the Volcano dance performed by the Oxford University Scottish Dance Society, see below.