Mention “volcano damage” and the first thing that comes to most people’s minds after Mentos and Diet Coke is Pompeii, the ancient Roman town buried so quickly under pumice and ash in 79 AD by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that it was preserved like an aging celebrity’s face. Unfortunately, just like that face, Pompeii is slowly falling apart due to heavy tourist traffic, vandalism, pollution, erosion and unstable ground that may lead to serious structural damage.
This is Italy so, like in a good spaghetti western, the cavalry is coming to the rescue. Finmeccanica, an Italian aerospace and defense company known for its electronic warfare equipment and military drones, recently announced it is funding a $2.3 million project called “Pompeii: Give it a Future.” Finmeccanica will blanket the entire ancient city with wireless sensors and satellite communications to monitor its foundation, assess “risks of hydrogeological instability,” test structural soundness and deliver early warnings to get a jump on possible problems.
To supplement the electronic surveillance, security guards will have special radio equipment and smartphone apps to alert them of potential issues and send them directly to the spot to assess the situation, determine immediate actions and help plan long-term solutions.
Results from the three-year project will eventually be made available to the public on the Internet. Public interest in the future of Pompeii is high as it is the second most visited archaeological site in Italy after the Colosseum and the Roman Forum in Rome.
Giving it a shot of preservation Botox will insure that Pompeii is on firm ground for future generations to visit, study and enjoy. Sorry, celebrities, you’re on your own.