Santorini Volcano

santorini volcano

Santorini Volcano is one of the most significant volcanoes in the world history because it is considered responsible for the destruction of the Minoan Crete

Santorini is probably the most extraordinary island in the Aegean Sea. It is actually a Caldera (crater), an ancient rim of a still active volcano. The beautiful white houses are scattered along the cliffside.

The modern city is actually only the eastern crescent of the ancient circular island. After the explosion of 1628 the crust of volcanic ash that formed over the hollow center of the island caved in and water filled the Caldera, resulting today’s harbor.

Until some two million years ago the island was very silent (remains of the non-volcanic soil can still be found in the SE part of the present island). But the underwater volcanoes started producing magma and gradually created small islands. Continuous activity created mountains which united with the non-volcanic island to make one big island.

There are historic evidences about a cataclysmic eruption early in the Late Bronze Age (1645 BC) which, scientist say, led to the destruction of the Minoan civilization on Crete. However, the facts show that the Minoan civilization (the burning of the Minoan palaces, in fact) fall 200 years after the eruption (in 1450 BC). The same theory led to excavations at Akrotiri, which turned out to be a prehistoric Aegean version of Pompeii and Herculaneum (berried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D).

After the cataclysmic eruption there was a period of 1300 years while the volcano remained silent. But in 198 BC a volcanic eruption created an island, Hierra. In 46 AD another eruption created another island, called Theia. Finally, in 60 AD a third eruption united the two islands. The newly united islands “grew” after the eruption of 726 AD. Two more eruptions (in 1457 and 1508 AD) increased the size of the island. It’s now called Palea (Old) Kameni and its peak reaches 110 m above sea level. Sixty five years after Palea Kameni reached its present form, another eruption broke out at 2400 m NE of the island’s center and a small island was formed. It was then called Mikra (Small) Kameni. In 1707, activity began again, this time near the small island when two cones appeared. They were called Aspronisi and Macronesi. Those were united in the course of the following five years by an island which formed between Palea and Mikra Kameni, much larger and higher then either and was called Nea (New) Kameni. It is the youngest island in Greece.

But this is not the only volcano in Santorini. There are other eruptive centers: Akrotiri volcanoes, Thera volcanoes, Skaros volcano, post-caldera Kamari volcanoes, Megalo Vouno volcanoes, Mikro Profitis Ilias volcano and Therasia volcanoes.

The largest volcanic eruptions on Santorini date to: 197 BC, 1866, 1925 and 1949-1950, the latest with no destructive consequences. However, the non-volcanic earthquake of 1956 damaged the buildings in the entire town and caused the death of 49 people.

Satellite photo of the Santorini Volcano

satellite photo of Santorini volcanoThis image of Santorini Volcano in the Aegean Sea was taken by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), flying aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft.





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