A new stratigraphic survey of the pyroclastic deposits blanketing Pompeii ruins shows departures from prior reconstruction of the events that occurred inside the town during the two main phases (pumice fallout and pyroclastic density currents) of the ad 79 Vesuvius eruption. We document the depth and distribution of subaerial erosion surfaces in the upper part of the pyroclastic sequence, formed during two short-lived breaks occurring in the course of the second phase of the eruption. These pauses could explain why 50% of the victims were found in the streets during the pyroclastic density currents phase.

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