Friday, September 14, 2012

Santorini Inflating

The picturesque Greek island of Santorini is experiencing heightened seismicity, and magma chamber inflation according to an article on Live Science. The island has inflated by up to 14,000,000 cubic meters of magma, and deformation of the island has displaced outwardly from the caldera by up to 5 inches since the onset of activity last year. While it is highly unlikely that this means an eruption is imminent, the Live Science article fails to point out that hte last time Santorini was active was not the famed Minoan eruption, but last erupted in 1950, and manifested as lava dome growth and lava effusion in the center of the caldera. This formed the central island of Nea Kameni.

Inflation of the Santorini caldera is a danger, given that the last period of activity was so recent, however deflation and inflation (D/I) events occur frequently at many large volcanoes, and do not typically result in an eruption.

Santorini volcano, as is, is incapable of producing the same type of powerful eruption that ended the Minoan civilization. The caldera has already collapsed, and the most power it was capable of producing was expended millenia ago. A modern day eruption would likely be another dome building event, with possible pyroclastic flow, and lava effusion in the center of the caldera. This would pose a minor threat to the residents of Santorini, but probably not more than that.

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