On Santorini, you are constantly reminded that you are on a volcano. The lunar scenes, the dark and red sea shores, the rocks made of cemented magma. The Greek island’s captivating magnificence is a consequence of the area’s savage volcanic history.
Naturally, Santorini is famous for its stunning crescent-shaped caldera, which is the only sunken caldera in the world and has half of it submerged. It was made by quite possibly of the biggest known ejection about a long time back. The explosion was so powerful that it destroyed the ancient city of Akrotiri on Santorini and killed the Minoan people, a seafaring people who had settled on the island at the time.
Today, Santorini, also known as Thira, is Greece’s most popular romantic destination. It is home to opulent villas and resorts that pamper A-listers and provide idyllic settings for lavish weddings and photoshoots. Whitewashed houses are balanced on the edge of the island’s steep volcanic cliffs, which rise about 1,000 feet above the sea level. It is not surprising that it is one of the world’s most photographed locations.
The island grinds to a halt each evening in anticipation of Santorini’s famous sunsets. As the golden hour approaches, the blue and white domed village of Oia gets crowded. The sky changes into a vivid display of red, orange, and pink hues as the sun begins to set behind the cliffs of the caldera. As the last rays vanish into the water, thousands of people gasp.
Few people are aware that an active volcano lies beneath the hypnotic kaleidoscope of colors.
Secrets of the deep
The Hellenic Volcanic Arc, which includes Santorini and is one of Europe’s most important volcanic fields, has seen over 100 eruptions in the past 400,000 years. The East Mediterranean’s generally dynamic submerged, and possibly risky, spring of gushing lava, Kolumbo, is five miles upper east of Santorini and part of a similar volcanic framework.
Lowered in the Aegean Ocean, Kolumbo has hushed up for almost 400 years – however it isn’t sleeping. The last time it ejected, in 1650, it killed 70 individuals and set off a 40 foot torrent. Toxic gas and smoke plumes were also recorded, in addition to powerful earthquakes and aftershocks.
Researchers realize Kolumbo detonating could cause incredible destruction. It has been visited by some of the largest oceanographic expeditions in the world, and monitoring has increased over the past two decades. Quite possibly of the biggest U examination vessels, the JOIDES Goal profound boring boat, headed out to Santorini for its most memorable Mediterranean mission between December 2022 and February 2023.
Tim Druitt, a volcanologist and co-chief of the expedition, claims that the formidable ship brought “an entire floating lab to the area.” Researchers were able to collect previously unreachable sediments by drilling more than 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) below the surface of the sea in an effort to retrace the course of volcanism in the region.
The findings—the initial reports are expected later this year—should assist scientists in not only predicting upcoming eruptions but also revealing the behavior of other globally active volcanoes that pose a threat to millions of people living nearby. Also being studied are the connections between volcanoes and earthquakes.
For the past two decades, Evi Nomikou, a geological oceanographer at the University of Athens, has participated in every expedition to her home island of Santorini. She continues, “We are gradually assembling a geopuzzle showing which parts were originally land and which parts were water.”
“We have a plan to better deal with challenges in the future if we can better understand past eruptions and their impact.”
An extraterrestrial ocean
The JOIDES Goal undertaking isn’t the primary significant investigation of the area. Nomikou claims that NASA decided to fund a ground-breaking expedition in 2019 because of the long-studied extreme conditions at Kolumbo. Life forms from other planets can be found in an extraterrestrial ocean at the bottom of its crater.
With its active hydrothermal vents spewing hot water and minerals, the hostile environment was an ideal testing ground for cutting-edge autonomous underwater vehicle technologies. NASA tested submersibles that it hopes will one day be used to investigate alien oceans on Saturn and Jupiter.
A recently discovered magma chamber beneath Kolumbo was also found by another study. Researchers accept that the chamber may likewise be critical to figuring out the seismic movement around here.
The adrenaline-pumping 2003 Hollywood blockbuster “Lara Croft: The Beginning” chose Santorini as its opening location because of its bubbling craters and bubbling volcanoes. The Cradle of Life from Tomb Raider Involving Santorini’s sensational precipices as a setting, Angelina Jolie wound up in dangerous circumstances in puzzling waters while searching for submerged treasure.
Jolie and afterward spouse Brad Pitt invested get-away energy in Santorini following the shoot, and they’re not by any means the only ones. Shakira, Lady Gaga, and the Kardashians are just a few of the famous people who have gone swimming in the clear waters of Santorini. Mega yachts travel from Santorini to Mykonos, Greece’s other popular destination for celebrities, every summer, and their VIP passengers post glamorous photos of their exclusive surroundings.
Crater hikes and thermal springs
Lara Croft’s adventurous spirit lives on in tourist boat excursions, even though Brangelina’s romance is over. They include a visit to Nea Kameni’s volcano: one of the five islands that make up the volcanic complex of Santorini and is itself a national geological park.
Marios Fytros, the CEO of the travel agency Santorini View, asserts that the most recent eruption on Nea Kameni occurred in the 1950s. Hiking up into a volcano’s crater is thrilling for visitors. It is one of our most requested outings. After swimming at Palea Kameni island’s volcanic hot springs, boat tours continue with sunset drinks on the deck facing Santorini’s cliffs.
The magnificent archaeological site of Akrotiri, which is a popular tour destination, is a stark reminder of the power of volcanoes. The 3,600-year-old eruption spewed out a nearly 20-mile-high column of ash and rock, engulfing the once-thriving Bronze Age city. Pompeii would be destroyed in a similar catastrophe 1,700 years later.
The vibrantly colored frescoes of Akrotiri are now beautifully preserved after the ashes and lava were removed.
A simmering volcano
Santorini has attracted some of the country’s largest investments in tourism due to its worldwide fame. Hilton and Nobu are among the brands to have shown up on the island in the beyond couple of years, and property costs are among the most noteworthy in Greece.
However, geologists who are keeping a close eye on Kolumbo warn that a major eruption is only a matter of time away.
However, geological “time” can be extremely slow. So much so that, according to an island real estate agent who did not wish to be identified, “volcanic activity never enters the conversation” when selling a property.
Kolumbo has the potential to cause a tsunami and an eruption column tens of miles high when it does erupt. Concerns were raised by the increase in activity around ten years ago, but it has since subsided.
Druitt states, “If we begin to see increased activity in Kolumbo, then we need to be alert.” The good news is that volcanic eruptions do provide ample warning.
In the meantime, Greece’s Civil Protection Agency released a 185-page plan in 2020 to deal with the consequences of a possible eruption of the Santorini group of volcanoes.
Volcanic food and wine
Outside of excursions, locals rarely have time to reflect on the volcano in their daily lives. In summer, the island is pressed. Santorini’s distinctive morphology continues to draw crowds, making overtourism one of the biggest issues. The caldera of Santorini was included in the first list of the top 100 geological World Heritage Sites last year by the International Union of Geological Sciences and UNESCO.
The volcano is connected to every industry on the island, including hotels and restaurants. Mineral-rich cosmetics and premium food ingredients are grown in distinctive soil produced locally. There is a historical center committed to the Santorini cherry tomato, a Safeguarded Assignment of Beginning item beginning around 2006, and the island’s fava beans are viewed as the best in Greece.
After tourism, Santorini’s most well-known export is wine. On Santorini, islanders claim that there is more wine than water.
Vineyards cover about a fifth of the island’s nearly 30 square miles, most of which are planted to assyrtiko, a native grape that yields mineral-forward, dry, and crisp white wines.
For honeymooners looking for their ideal vacation, the traditional “cave” houses, or yposkafa, that are dug into the volcanic rocks are a great place to nest. However, Kolumbo was the subject of Nomikou’s childhood dreams, as she was raised on Santorini.
“I was significantly affected by my granddad’s and extraordinary granddad’s accounts. They recalled the smaller explosions that occurred at Nea Kameni, she claims.
However, they insisted that “the one you can’t see” was the cause of concern.
I began to gradually realize that there was another volcano beneath the water. a volcano with greater power, mystery, and danger. It is impossible to predict which of us will survive a major eruption, but one will occur at some point.
It’s possible that Santorini will again be covered in ash one day. However, for the time being, the volcano remains silent as visitors take in yet another breathtaking sunset over a glass of assyrtiko.