Greece / History / Science

Santorini: Island Paradise or Ticking Bomb?

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Santorini has been everything we expected and much more. You can probably tell from our posts that we’re enjoying it, and in addition, where else can you sleep less than two miles from an active volcano? Wake up all you closet scientists! We’ve been woefully lacking in good science information since our Iceland post on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Croatian katabatic wind. Well we hit the mother lode (geology humor) in Santorini, which is actually the rim of the crater of an active volcano, and can be seen clearly from the cliffs of any of the islands.

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Around 1600 BC the Santorini volcano blew its top in a big way, and spewed out so much magma, rock, ash, and gas that the crater collapsed into the massive flooded caldera we see today. According to the latest research, this was the second largest volcanic eruption in human history. Numero uno is the 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia, which spread volcanic ash around the globe and caused the “Year without Summer” in Europe and North America. This satellite photo shows what’s left after Santorini’s massive eruption, with the rim (at least what’s left) around the edge, and the volcano has built a new cone, which is the dark spot in the middle.

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There have been numerous eruptions since the whopper of 1600 BC, and the most recent event was in 1950, which according to records was no sissy. Scientists say the volcano “is alive and well and there is magma near the surface.” And just so you know, we’re staying in Fira, which on the satellite photo is the white bit on the cliffs, closest to the volcano. Hopefully, the big bang will hold off a few more days, and if not, we’ll blog about the fireworks display.

Happy Trails,
James

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