Santorini is one of the 5 volcanic
centers making up the southern Aegean volcanic arc. Jutting
out from the deep blue sea, the sheer volcanic cliffs are
topped with gleaming white houses and churches, resembling
snowcapped mountains. Layer upon layer of red volcanic rock
form a visual demonstration found nowhere else on earth.
|Photo : Klearchos Kapoutsis
| The group of islands known as Santorini
is unique. Probably the only volcano with a caldera that reaches
into the sea, the last major explosion occurred during the Minoan
Bronze Age 3,600 years ago. The thunderous fury of nature left
its mark on the island, the home of Greece's last active volcano
which still smolders today. The entire center of the circular
island sank into the sea during the tremendous volcanic explosion.
The eruption caused tidal waves which virtually wiped out the
advanced Minoan Civilization of Crete, 70 miles to the south.
The huge mass of pumice thrown out from the Minoan eruption
covered the surface of the sea over a wide region and was
washed up at higher levels on the shores by the tsunamis triggered
by earthquakes. A recent example is the earthquake in Santorini
that happened on 9th July 1956, when the tides on the island
of Ios reached a height of 25 meters. On most of the shores
of the surrounding part of the Aegean, lumps of pumice have
been found that clearly drifted on the surface of the water.
Pumice was also found on the northern coast of Crete and on
the shores of Anafi, Limnos, Paros, Samothraki, Cyprus and
even Israel. Experts have discovered traces of this eruption
as far as Egypt on the Nile Delta.
What remains today of Santorini is a large crescent shaped
island enclosing a west bay and the largest caldera on earth.
|Created by N.Androulakakis &
|The volcanic islands Christiani, Askania and
the Eschati reef are also part of the volcanic group of Santorini.
They lie to the southwestern end of the tectonic line running
northeastward through the Kameni islands to the submarine
volcano of Kolumbo. At present the Christiana islands are
not inhabited, but ruins, road-like structures for collecting
water and other signs of human activity, including traces
of the Bronze Age and medieval settlements clearly show that
for many centuries they were densely populated. Christiani
today has a small church and is visited by local fishermen.
|Aspronisi is a small island covered with a thick
layer of white pumice laid down by the Minoan eruption. Aspronisi
is uninhabited, and even though it is only 60 meters at its
highest point, its interior is almost inaccessible.
|We would like to congratulate and credit the
AUTHOR Walter L. Friedrich for his excellent book "Fire
in the Sea : The Santorini Volcano: Natural History and the
Legend of Atlantis" as the main source and inspiration
for this section.