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Growing Magma Under Santorini Volcano a ‘Real Threat’

Santorini volcano magma
This view from an international volcano monitoring system shows the Kolumbo volcanic crater, a Santorini volcano, on the seafloor. Credit: SANTORY

A submarine volcano on the Greek island of Santorini has a growing, never-before-seen magma chamber that could fuel another massive eruption within the next 150 years, a recent study found.

About four miles (seven kilometers) from Santorini, 1,640 feet (500 meters) under the ocean’s surface, lies the Kolumbo volcano.

Kolumbo, along with Nea Kameni, situated practically in the center of the circular perimeter formed by Santorini, Thirasia, and Aspronisi and the adjacent islet of Palea Kameni are considered to be the most active part of the Aegean volcanic arc.

The study published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems revealed that the previously undetected magma chamber growing beneath the Kolumbo volcano could lead to another eruption.

An international team of experts says the associated hazard depends on how much mobile magma is currently present beneath a volcano.

They note that tomographic methods used so far have relatively low resolution and give a blurred picture of only the largest molten-rock bodies. “In particular, they struggle to distinguish between mobile magma and melt spread between tightly packed mineral grains.”

The study combines a next-generation tomographic method with extraordinarily dense seafloor recordings of controlled marine sound sources, the scientists say.

“This state-of-the-art experiment at Kolumbo volcano, offshore of Santorini, allowed us to detect a body of mobile magma which has been growing at an average rate of 4 × 106 m3 per year since the last eruption in 1650 CE,” it was said. “This rate is large enough to counteract the effect of cooling and crystallization.”

Kolumbo volcano poses a serious threat

According to the study, “Kolumbo poses a serious threat and deserves a real-time monitoring facility.”

This is not the first time scientists have warned of the danger of a new eruption of the Santorini volcano.

A recent study by a group of scientists collaborating in an effort to make a new geomorphologic map for the volcanic island of Santorini said that the cosmopolitan island is “at high risk for volcanically- and seismically-induced hazards.”

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 volcano 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 explosive 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 that flourished on the island, warning that, even today, the unthinkable could occur yet again.

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