Vesuvius red zone

The Vesuvius red zone (Italian: zona rossa del Vesuvio) is the area designated to be quickly evacuated within a few days in the case of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius.[1] The authorities believe that they will have two weeks’ warning of an imminent eruption; the questions that arise are whether the population can be evacuated in time, despite a reluctance to leave their homes; and will there be as much as two weeks’ warning in reality.[2]

As the area around Mount Vesuvius is highly urbanized, it became necessary to develop evacuation plans to be applied when the signs of a forthcoming eruption appear.[3] A danger zone around the volcano was first identified in 2001 by the Italian Protezione Civile; its boundaries were then redefined in 2013 following new studies on the behaviour of Plinian eruptions.[4]

The zone is composed by two subzones, called red zone 1 and 2. The former is the most dangerous area in the case of an eruption, being at greatest risk from pyroclastic flows. The red zone 2 will be subjected to falling ash and lapilli, whose intensity will depend on the intensity and direction of the winds at the time.[5]

Mount Vesuvius is continuously kept under surveillance by the Vesuvius Observatory of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. When an appointed set of geologic activities occurs, an eruption warning is issued and the evacuation procedure begins.[6] It has been estimated that 72 hours are needed to complete the evacuation: 12 hours to organize it, 48 hours to transfer all the people outside the red zone and 12 hours are kept as a safety margin for unexpected events.[7]

List of comunes involved

The red zone comprises 25 comunes and part of the city of Naples, with about 800,000 residents to be evacuated.[5]

In the case of an eruption, the evacuated people will be transferred to and hosted in 19 Italian regions (Campania being excluded), according to their comune of origin.[8]

List of comunes to be evacuated[5]
Comune Population[9] Surface (km2) Hosting region
Boscoreale 27927 11.28 Calabria
Boscotrecase 10247 7 Basilicata
Cercola 18007 3 Liguria
Ercolano 52763 19.64 Emilia-Romagna
Massa di Somma 5353 3.03 Molise
Naples (6th municipality only) 138641 19.28 Lazio
Nola 34467 39 Aosta Valley
Ottaviano 23710 19.85 Lazio
Palma Campania 18218 20.8 Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Poggiomarino 21993 13.28 Marche
Pollena Trocchia 13478 8.11 Trentino-Alto Adige
Pompei 25207 12.4 Sardinia
Portici 54577 4.52 Piedmont
San Gennaro Vesuviano 11910 6.97 Umbria
San Giorgio a Cremano 45122 4.11 Tuscany
San Giuseppe Vesuviano 31612 14 Veneto
San Sebastiano al Vesuvio 9057 2 Apulia
Sant’Anastasia 27690 18.76 Veneto
Scafati 50686 19.69 Sicily
Somma Vesuviana 34981 30.74 Lombardy
Terzigno 18584 23 Abruzzo
Torre Annunziata 42406 7.33 Apulia
Torre del Greco 85332 30.66 Lombardy
Trecase 8969 6.14 Sicily


  1. ^“What if Mount Vesuvius Erupted Today?”. 2017-09-03.
  2. ^McGuire, Bill (October 16, 2003). “In the shadow of the volcano”. The Guardian.
  3. ^Marshall, Lee (2017-09-28). “‘Locals console themselves with religion’: Life in the shadow of an active volcano”. The Daily Telegraph.
  4. ^“From 2003 till now”. Protezione Civile.
  5. ^ Jump up to:ab c “New red zone”. Protezione Civile.
  6. ^“Reference event and alert levels”. Protezione Civile.
  7. ^Pasha-Robinson, Lucy (2016-10-14). “Mount Vesuvius eruption risk: Emergency plans to evacuate 700,000 finalised”. The Independent.
  8. ^Edwards, Catherine (2016-10-13). “Italy puzzles over how to save 700,000 people from wrath of Vesuvius”. The Local.
  9. ^Data taken from ISTAT’s demographic data and referred to 31 December 2017.

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