Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Greece's Santorini Volcano Inflating

Santorini, Greece's famed caldera volcano is inflating according to GPS instruments and volcanologists. The inflation has also been accompanied by increased seismicity, and volcanologists state that the magma chamber has grown by about 500 million cubic feet. Scientists are quick however to point out that this does not mean an eruption of Santorini is imminent, and even if there were to be an eruption, the conditions for a caldera-forming  eruption that wiped out the original Santorini island and the Minoan civilization are not present.

An eruption at Santorini however could be disastrous for the Greek country, which is struggling financially and is barely getting back to solvency.

Any eruption at Santorini would likely be further building of its central island cone, or submarine in nature, but could easily end up as a powerful explosive event which could devastate the harbors and anchorages within the caldera, and would definitely be disruptive. The last eruption of Santorini was in 1950, and produced a small lava dome and flow on the middle island of Nea Kameni. The previous eruption in 1866 produced explosive eruptions which did result in some injuries to scientists observing the eruption (rather closely and dangerously by today's standards).

There is no chance of an eruption on the scale of the famed Minoan eruption, due to the fact that it takes a supervolcanic or caldera forming eruption hundreds of thousands of years to really recharge and create the conditions for such an event.While an eruption at Santorini would be hugely disruptive to residents and tourists alike, the most likely scenario is that it will simply end up being scientifically fascinating, and benign. Time will tell however, and the world will continue to watch.


  1. They didn't mention the Kolumbus volcano which is more dangerous, hotter and totally underwater, just 7 miles off the NE coast of the island! Kolumbus has been having even more quakes then the main volcano.

  2. the harmonic cascades from deep to shallow earthquakes in the caldera
    indicate the eruptive process has already begun? I mean they are classic for magma chamber driven volcanos. magma at 1.5 km people ..wakeywakey

  3. how kolumbus is more dangerous than a volcano that produced a vei 7 explosion?
    not to mentio that kolumbo is way smaller than santorini itself...

  4. (From

    Kolumbo (or Kolumbos) volcano is an active submarine volcano located 8 km NE of Santorini Island in the Aegean Sea. The volcano forms an elliptical SW-NE elongated 3 km wide cone with a 500 m deep and 1.5 km wide crater, whose rim's highest parts rise to 18-15 m beneath sea level.
    The crater floor, in particular in its northern part, contains a large and very active high-temperature fumarole field.
    The crater of Kolumbo volcano is a small caldera which could have (at least in parts) formed during the volcano's only known, but very violent last eruption which occurred in 1650 AD.
    The large hydrothermal field in the northern part of the caldera at about 500 m depth contains a massive Kuroko-style sulfide deposit. Only few such deposits are known world-wide and they are of great interest, especially because of the typically high content of gold and silver in the sulfides. In 2010, the exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus discovered steep, up to 6 m high chimneys of sulfides above one of the vents.
    1650 eruption of Kolumbo volcano
    The 1650 eruption was a very explosive event and ejected pumice and ash as far as Turkey, and produced pyroclastic flows that killed about 70 people on Santorini. During the eruption, it constructed a temporary island (hence it's name Kolumbo, in Greece "swimming"). A tsunami occurred as well, probably during the collapse of the cone. It caused damage on nearby islands up to 150 km and invaded the flat coastal areas especially on the eastern side of Santorini, where ruins from Roman times were uncovered. The eruption also caused damage killed a great number of livestock because of poisonous gasses, mainly H2S.


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