On August 24, 79 A.D., Vesuvius suddenly returned to
life. The mountain erupted violently, shooting a column of pyroclastic
material, gas, and rock up to twenty miles into the sky. The tremendous
cloud of material quickly spread out, blocking the sun and turning the
bright summer day into night. The eruption continued for at least three
days. During this whole time, pyroclastic material fell on Pompeii. The
town was buried by volcanic ash and other material. In places the ash,
which is called a volcanic fallout deposit, was more than ten feet
thick. The city of Pompeii was buried and forgotten.
Plaster casts of people trying to protect themselves from the
hot ash that incinerated their bodies.