Tag Archives: Caldera

The Minoan Tsunami: Two Theories, Past and Present

When I was thirteen I visited the coastal Alaskan town of Yakutat for a photography trip with my dad. On the beach there were signs to look out for wash up items on the beach from the 2011 Japan tsunami, some of the items included dolls, soccer balls and a lot of trash. I was shocked to see these items on a beach in Alaska when the tsunami occurred over 4000 miles away. This was my first and only experience with a tsunami. Six years later I came here to Greece and learned about the tsunami from the Minoan eruption and my curiosity was piqued again. 

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The beginning, middle, and no end in sight.

Our first day of class on Santorini was nerve wracking for me. I had no clue what information Professor Skinner would be telling us, how fast paced the class would be, or what knowledge I would have to remember from when I took Geologic Disasters two semesters ago. It helped to see that everyone was in the same position I was in, all nerves with a slight bit of excitement for the unknown information.

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Living in the Walls of the Past

Why not create something beautiful out of a catastrophe? In Santorini, it is easy to find many structures built out of the destruction from the Minoan eruption. I have personally witnessed some of the techniques employed to create these domiciles. Through the build up of pumice and ash as results of the volcanic eruption, inhabitants of the island have taken advantage of what they have been given.
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Akrotiri; Doomed for Destruction, but When?

The ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri was an outpost of Crete, and existed on an active caldera. Inevitably the massive volcano erupted causing worldwide effects. China experienced extreme climate change, and pumice was found in places as far away as the Nile and Israel. The effects on the volcanic island were incredibly powerful, and completely buried Akrotiri in copious amounts of ash. Today the ash and pumice on Santorini is measured to be 60 meters at its thickest, and led to the island being uninhabited for approximately 200 years following the eruption (1).

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