The things that I witness and record from working on the volcanic island of Santorini never cease to take my breath away. My curiosity took control of me one day while I was conducting field work. While working on stratigraphic columns at such places as Cape Plaka and Vlychada, small discolored rocks kept appearing in the preserved Minoan eruption deposits. The rocks easily grabbed the attention of my eye for the colors that the rock held on its surface were nothing less than mesmerizing.
The red is that of the surface of Mars that is coated with iron-rich rock. The yellow is dusted over the surface as if someone sprinkled little flakes of the sun all over it. The orange can only be compared to that of a setting sun, a sun that sets over the horizon of an endless sea glistening over the waves. Finally the purple, it is as if flames of scorching temperature kissed the surface and stained the rock in misshaped ways.
Questions raced through my mind. Questions of where could this rock have come from? What caused the rock to have such bewildering colors? Are the rocks volcanic or did they arise from some other source? I yearned to know more about this tantalizing creation and the secrets it holds.
Continue reading Beautifully Colored for Dangerous Reasons
There really is no place like this in the world. A place where the water shines a deep, mesmerizing blue to the point where you get lost in the oscillation of the waves. A place where buildings as white as snow, with roof tops a glimmering light blue fill the eye as far as it can see. Where the sheer cliffs that change color what looks like every few feet stretching down to the beginnings of the sea. This is not just a place of beauty, but a place of destruction. A place where without warning, an unworldly power can be unleashed from the depths. The violent history is that of one’s nightmares. This is not a place of fiction, this is Santorini.
Continue reading Unsuspecting Tourists and the Hazards of Nea Kameni
At around 1613 BCE, the island of Santorini had a cataclysmic event, the Minoan eruption. The caldera reached a VEI of 6 and the eruption column reached heights of up to 38 kilometers. This caldera forming eruption produced a 60 meter thick layer of pumice that blanketed the island.
One specific piece of pumice named Petros was born on this day. After experiencing a terrifying journey of being launched in the air and free falling for what must have felt like a lifetime, Petros came to rest. He resides on the Island of Thera, in the now town of Fira. It is at this place that his story begins…
At this outcrop of pumice, down in Fira Quarry, I patiently waited. I waited 3,630 years for someone to remove me from my prison of cement and silence so I could live a normal life. That day came when a study abroad class from America rescued me from my cage.
It is a this point that I, Petros, say goodbye to the trail that leads to where I was stuck living a life of solace. I realize at this moment, I am a free pumice. As I stare at this trail that leads to I lived for so long, I am stricken with sadness for I am leaving what I call home. Then a wave of excitement rushes through me as I remember the world that I’m about to experience.
This is it! The first look at this jaw-dropping place that I have always yearned to see. I am here because I was born into existence from a volcano, and these people came here to see what was the result of the same thing that created me. Something that is so destructive that can take life so easily can also give life and attract it from far and wide.
I study the currency known as Euro, it is what is used on this island and so much more. I quickly figure out how to use the money and make my first stop on the town.
At last, I purchase the legendary, mouthwatering greek food. My first choice is a gyro. The smell alone makes my stomach lurch out from me to try to get some. I gobble it down so fast I am not sure if I even chewed it. If I was ever offered a last meal, this would be it.
I decide to go for a walk up to the rim of the caldera. This caldera flung me into the air and gave me life. I am frozen in place when I gaze out into the distance. The deep blue shimmer of the water, the way the islands catch your gaze and call out to you, and the way the sun lights the sky for miles to see is almost to much to handle. I realize then the violent act that created me also created this unreal place that I look upon.
After being out in the scorching sun for most of the day, I need to cool off so I go for a swim. I have an uncommon advantage for a rock in that pumice is the only rock that floats. By being very porous and extremely light in density, I can float in the pool for hours to come.
After dousing myself with pool water from the fiery heat, I lounge in the shade with the pool by my side. The happiness I feel matches that of a child on Christmas morning.
Here I rest, on the wall that holds a dozen rocks by my side. Rocks that had to the same experience I did until someone rescued them. If this is where I shall sit for another 4,000 years, at least I shall not sit alone.