Archaeologists at work in Pompeii. Volcanologists complain they have been barred from accessing certain areas of the world heritage site. Photograph: Cesare Abbate/AP
Volcanologists say excavations by archaeologists are destroying useful clues about lava flow
It is one of the most ambitious archaeological missions ever undertaken. The Great Pompeii Project promises remarkable discoveries about life in the Roman empire, including the genetic profiles of the town’s inhabitants, their dining preferences, occupations and health.
But as layers of volcanic rock are chipped away to uncover the secrets that lie below, not everyone is celebrating. Volcanologists say the excavation risks destroying clues about the AD79 eruption that could be crucial for protecting the 600,000 people who live in the shadow of Vesuvius today.
After years of simmering tensions, a row has broken out between the two scientific factions, and volcanologists published an open letter in the journal Nature this month criticising the “alarming” destruction of volcanic deposits.
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