For the last week, I’ve been outside under the Santorini sun drawing and describing the post Minoan eruption stratigraphy of the island from different localities. I’ve been attempting to find answers to the history of the island’s geography through the rocks. And these rocks are so easily taken for granted, sitting while hundreds of tourists walk by unfazed by the stories they could tell. But that’s why I’m here. My purpose in coming to Santorini was to study the geology and write about what I learn. It’s my goal to share my knowledge and translate the more advanced topics of geology to layman’s terms so those reading can understand the work I’ve completed.
In the late Bronze Age the Minoans did not have the technology to monitor the caldera but evidence shows they left before the Minoan eruption of 1613 BC. As a class we visited the ancient Minoan city Akrotiri which is sometimes called the Greek Pompeii. The city has been preserved by the ash fall from the Minoan eruption there is clear evidence the Minoans left before the eruption. I want to know what caused them to leave and did they know that a major eruption was going to occur? Today scientists can monitor the volcanic activity of Nea Kameni but they can’t predict when a volcano will erupt or know if they should call for an evacuation.
Walking through the door that led to the excavated remains of the ancient city of Akrotiri, I wondered what I would see. I remembered learning about the people of Akrotiri and how something had caused them to leave before the Santorini eruption. But nobody really knew or had an explanation of where the Minoans could have gone, just that no remains of their bodies have ever been found.
Imagine being on the island of Santorini around the time of 1613 BC. Before the power of the Minoan eruption altered the landscape forever, you would be able to see this unstable volcanic vent surrounded by a landscape that had been reworked many times before by the forces of volcanism. As you look across the island you would be surrounded by the destructive beauty of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic activity. You might feel safe and comforted because the last eruption was over 17,000 years ago. Although this time it is different, and there is a feeling that something may change, something may occur that will truly shape the island for the future. It is only a matter of time before this volcano begins to roar again, and present Santorini with an eruption that has never been seen within the Aegean Sea or the Mediterranean for that matter.
The 1613 +/-13 BC Minoan eruption is known worldwide for its colossal eruption that was nearly equal to the eruptions of Tambora and Krakatau in Indonesia. We are studying this specific eruption because while it greatly effected the morphology of Santorini, the population of the island was effected as well (1). This eruption is crucial in our understanding of future caldera eruptions and expands our knowledge of the likelihood of another eruption.