From 1764 to the end of the 18th century, diplomat and archaeologist sir William Douglas Hamilton (1730-1803) was the British ambassador at the court in Naples.
He also was a volcanology expert, and between 1776 and 1779 created – with painter Pietro Fabris – the monumental, two-volume “Campi Phlegraei”.
“Here are […] Mount Vesuvius’s eruptions in 1777 and 1779, the island of Ischia from the open sea, an eruption on the mountain covered in snow, Virgil’s tomb at the entrance of the cave in Posillipo, Lake Averno between Pozzuoli and Cuma, the Pavone Harbour on the island of Nisida, the ‘Forum Vulcani’ – which is the Solfatara that Hamilton misspells ‘Solfatarra’ – and Naples, the beautiful, overlooking the sea and seen from the Maddalena, from Posillipo, from the Camaldolese Convent, and from the Phlegraean Fields, Lake Agnano and Pozzuoli…” (V. Jacobacci, “Passioni giacobine”, Guida Editori, Naples 2003).
Try looking at these images bearing in mind Pliny the Younger’s words, in the letter he wrote to Tacitus to tell him his uncle, Pliny the Elder, had died in Pompeii during Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 BC:
The cloud was rising from a mountain […] I can best describe its shape by likening it to a pine tree. It rose into the sky on a very long ‘trunk’ from which spread some ‘branches’.