A group of scientists collaborating in an effort to make a new geomorphologic map for the volcanic island of Santorini believe the cosmopolitan island is “at high risk for volcanically- and seismically-induced hazards.”
The new effort to create the map was brought about by a desire to further enhance the existing “hazard assessments” on the southeastern Aegean island, which draws hordes of tourists to its spectacular vistas, with cliffs sweeping down to the sea.
Published in the scientific periodical The Journal of Maps in March 2021, the paper shows planetary geologic mapping techniques to create a map that shows both land and sea areas belonging to what is termed the Christiana-Santorini-Kolumbo Volcanic Group.
The abstract of the paper states that “Submarine geomorphologic maps are used to provide geologic context and spatial information on landforms and related geo-hazards for risk management.”
The volcanic island of Santorini is one of the world’s tourist hotspots
The caldera of the dormant volcano of Thera, on which the tiny islet of Nea Kameni is perched, across from the main island of Santorini, is a hotspot for travelers who visit the stunningly- beautiful island, which has villages perched atop its craggy peaks.
The website Volcano Discovery states “there are some (still minor) signs that the volcano of Santorini could wake up in a medium future (months to years.) Predicting IF and, if yes, WHEN exactly there will be a new eruption is impossible—volcanoes are and will always be unpredictable.”
“It is quite certain, though, that the volcano will erupt in the future again because it is an active volcano and far from extinct,” Volcano Discovery reported.
Santorini blast destroyed the island’s Minoan civilization
The volcano has erupted nine times in the previous two thousand years with the last blast occurring in 1950.
The most cataclysmic eruption in the history of the island took place 3,666 years ago in one of the most cataclysmic events in world history.
The blast put a violent end to the rich Minoan civilization which flourished on the island, serving as a warning that, even today, the unthinkable could reoccur.
However, Greece’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection said that it has a plan ready for just such a disaster.
An official told Greece’s state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency in February of 2020 that their 184-page study, nicknamed “Talio,” includes an emergency response and immediate and short-term impact management plan for any volcanic activity which might occur at Santorini.
Greek government plan in place in case of blast
The Ministry stated that “in view of the imminent danger of volcanic activity in the Santorini volcanic complex,” the document it prepared had taken into account the alert level designation set by the Hellenic Observatory’s Standing Monitoring Committee.
However, it is still unclear how any plan could prepare for a sudden, cataclysmic explosion such as New Zealand’s White Island blast, which occurred on December 9, 2019. In that event, there was little or no warning when the volcano suddenly erupted, killing twenty-one visitors to the island.
Two are still missing and presumed dead in the incident, which occurred in the middle of a tourist boat excursion to the island. Some victims were already on the island when it erupted.
Greece’s Secretariat, however, maintains that there is no cause for alarm at present since there are no signs that the Santorini volcano will erupt anytime soon.
The area is a hotbed for geologic activity, and there is a second volcano nearby currently underwater at 8.5 kilometers (5.28 miles) from Santorini. Called “Colombo,” it is just northeast of the island.
The volcanic complex around the tourist magnet of Santorini also contains another active source in the same archipelago, a smaller volcano called “Kameni.”