Santorini Eruption: New theory Says ‘Pyroclastic Flows’ Caused Devastating Bronze Age Tsunamis

Ancient Origins | 11/13/2016 | Staff
cyanbyte (Posted by) Level 3
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Take the ferry to the beautiful Greek islands of Santorini and you will sail into a truly unique landscape forged by a cataclysm towards the end of the Bronze Age. From either the north or south your ship will leave the brilliant blue seas of the Aegean and enter a natural harbor flanked by majestic cliffs. Ferries pass between the large island of Thira and the smaller island of Thirasia, while straight ahead a small island in the center of the natural harbor, Nea Kameni, looks like a molehill surrounded by mountains.

It is on Nea Kameni, among hot springs and sulphurous vents, that you can begin to understand the natural history and formation of this island. The harbor, the cliffs, the elegant white houses with blue roofs; all are part of a huge volcano.

Millennium - BC - Santorini - Events - History

Sometime during the mid-second millennium BC, Santorini erupted. It was one of the biggest volcanic events in human history. In the past 800 years, only Mount Tambora in Indonesia has erupted with such force, and Tambora was responsible for a global “year without a summer” in 1816.

The eruption sent devastating tsunamis across the eastern Mediterranean that smashed into the Minoans on Crete, at the time one of the world’s most advanced civilizations .

Santorini - Volcano - Caldera - Type - Volcano

The Santorini volcano is a caldera, a type of volcano that erupts so violently that its middle collapses in on itself forming a huge crater. How this crater came to be is the focus of a new paper in Nature Communications by Paraskevi Nomikou and colleagues. They have published high-resolution seabed maps and combined these with seismic evidence for what rocks the seabed is made of in the caldera to explain how the volcano collapsed, filled with water and might have produced tsunamis.

Prior to the eruption, the modern caldera did not exist. Instead a smaller...
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