Geographical sites:

  • Phlegraean Islands (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #432744)
    Pleiades_icon Campi Phlegraei plain, region Geocontext: Campi Flegrei
    Description: The Campi Phlegraei (Phlegraean Fields) is a large caldera (13 km wide) in the Bay of Naples region of Italy. In total, the the area comprises 24 craters, although a good portion of the caldera now lies under water. The area was important in Greek and Roman times; the Greeks established their first mainland colony at Cumae within the Campi Phlegraei.


Text #8683

Aristotle. Meteorologica
[Aristot. 2.8.28--2.8.32. Translated by E. W. Webster. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1931]


We have already shown that wet and dry must both give rise to an evaporation: earthquakes are a necessary consequence of this fact. The earth is essentially dry, but rain fills it with moisture. Then the sun and its own fire warm it and give rise to a quantity of wind both outside and inside it. This wind sometimes flows outwards in a single body, sometimes inwards, and sometimes it is divided. […] We must suppose the action of the wind in the earth to be analogous to the tremors and throbbings caused in us by the force of the wind contained in our bodies. Thus some earthquakes are a sort of tremor, others a sort of throbbing. … Tetanus and spasms are motions of wind, and their force is such that the united efforts of many men do not succeed in overcoming the movements of the patients. We must suppose, then (to compare great things with small), that what happens in the earth is just like that. Our theory has been verified by actual observation in many places. It has been known to happen that an earthquake has continued until the wind that caused it burst through the earth into the air and appeared visibly like a hurricane. This happened lately near Heracleia in Pontus and some time past at the island Hiera, one of the group called the Aeolian islands. Here a portion of the earth swelled up and a lump like a mound rose with a noise: finally it burst, and a great wind came out of it and threw up live cinders and ashes which buried the neighbouring town of Lipara and reached some of the towns in Italy. The spot where this eruption occurred is still to be seen. … The combination of a tidal wave with an earthquake is due to the presence of contrary winds. It occurs when the wind which is shaking the earth does not entirely succeed in driving off the sea which another wind is bringing on, but pushes it back and heaps it up in a great mass in one place. … Earthquakes are local and often affect a small district only; whereas winds are not local.

When the wind is present in sufficient quantity there is an earthquake. The shocks are horizontal like a tremor; except occasionally, in a few places, where they act vertically, upwards from below, like a throbbing. It is the vertical direction which makes this kind of earthquake so rare. The motive force does not easily accumulate in great quantity in the position required, since the surface of the earth secretes far more of the evaporation than its depths. Wherever an earthquake of this kind does occur a quantity of stones comes to the surface of the earth (as when you throw up things in a winnowing fan), as we see from Sipylus and the Phlegraean plain and the district in Liguria, which were devastated by this kind of earthquake. 1

  1. Aristotle may refer to Timaeus’ account in a passage when he talks about earthquakes in the Phlegraean Islands and in Liguria. [nE]

Text #4014

Strabo. Geography. Series: Geography. Vol. 2
[Strab. 5.4.9. Translated by Horace Leonard Jones and John Robert Sitlington. William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1967. (8 Vols.) p. 459]

And Timaeus1, also, says that many marvellous things are told by the ancients about Pithecussae2, and that only shortly before his own time the hill called Epopeus, in the centre of the island, on being shaken by earthquakes, cast forth fire and shoved the part between it and the sea back to the open sea; and the part of the land that had been burned to ashes, on being lifted high into the air, crashed down again upon the island like a whirlwind; and the sea retreated for three stadia, but not long after retreating turned back and with its reverse current deluged the island; and consequently, the fire in the island was quenched, but the noise was such that the people on the mainland fled from the coast into Campania.

The hot springs in the island are thought to cure those who have gall-stones. Capreae had two small towns in ancient times, though later on only one. The Neapolitans took possession of this island too; and although they lost Pithecussae in war, they got it back again, Augustus Caesar giving it to them, though he appropriated Capreae to himself personally and erected buildings on it. Such, then, are the seaboard cities of Campania and the islands that lie off it.

  1. c. 350-264, a Greek historian whose writings shaped the tradition of western Mediterranean history. [nE]

  2. Timaeus quite clearly says that this volcanic eruption occurred not too long before his own time. Therefore, these events don’t belong to the time of Hieron (see E#2906).

Text #4013

Gates & Ritchie. Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes
[p. 122]

The volcanic island Ischia stands close to Vesuvius, in the Bay of Naples, and has been active since earliest historical times. Resurgent uplift at Ischia, similar to that obsered at Iwo Jima, had led some observers to speculate that Ischia has a Caldera, althought this interpetation is not certain. There has been sonsidered long-term ground deformation at Ischia. One sign of this deformation is the site of a Roman metal foundry on the northeast side of the island, now about 15 to 20 feet underwater. On the island’s southern side, a beach has been uplifted almost 100 feet…

Although uplift at Ischia may be volcanic in origin, it also is possible that Tectonic Activity is involved. … An eruption around 470 BC drove away a Syracusan colony on the island. Residents of the island had to flee yet again in an eruption that occurred between approximately 400 BC and 350 BC. This eruption is said to have followed earthquake activity. A tsunami may have accompanied an eruption, possibly of Monte Epomeo around 350 BC. Another eruption may have taken place in 91 BC. … The eruptive history of Ischia over the next thousand years is sketchy, but eruptions appear to have occurred around AD 80, 180, 222, and 284-305.

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