Santorini is complex of overlapping shield volcanoes. Basalt and andesite lava flows that make the shield are exposed in the cliff below the town of Phira. Some of t he cliff is thought to be a caldera wall associated with an eruption 21,000 year ago. Druitt and Francaviglia (1992) found evidence of at least 12 large explosive eruptions in the last 200,000 years at Santorin i. The white layer at the top is the Minoan tephra from the 1,650 B.C. eruption. Photography copyrighted by Robert Decker.
Exposure of about 150 feet (50 m) of Minoan tephra. The tephra consists of pumice, pyroclastic surge, and pyroclastic flow deposits. Photography copyrighted by Ro bert Decker.
Akroteri, a Minoan city on the south part of Thera, is being excavated. About 3-6 feet (1-2 m) of ash fell on the city which had a population of about 30,000. The residents appear to have been successfully evacuated prior to the eruption. No bodies hav e been found in the ash like those at Vesuvius. Archeologists also reported that movable objects had been taken from the city. Photography copyrighted by Robert Decker.
The Kameni Islands formed after the caldera. Eleven eruptions since 197 B.C. have made the two islands. The most recent eruption at Santorini was in 1950 on Nea Kameni, the northern island. The eruption was phreatic and lasted less than a month. It co nstructed a dome and produced lava flows. Photography copyrighted by Robert Decker.
For a description of the tectonics of the Hellenic arc and the Aegean Sea visit the volcanic island of Nisyros.
Click here, if you are wondering if the eruption of Santorini was related to the lost city of Atlantis.
here, for a Space Shuttle photo of Thera.
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