one of the most beautiful, and most impressive islands in the world.
is not only the fascination of its craggy precipices, the legend of the lost
istand of Atlantis, the contrast between the deep blue of the sea, the white of
the pumice-stone or the black intensity of the lava that make Santorini unique.
Nor is it just the lovely little bars from which classical music floats out
discreetly to greet the lights around the caldera as the evening draws in to a
is one of the most violent volcanoes on the face of the earth; a huge, open-air,
geological and volcanological museum unique in the world.
many of you who read this booklet, the word "volcano" may indicate
only the islet of Nea Kameni, as it does for the people of this island.
But that is only a fraction of the truth. Besides the mountain "Profitis
llias", every single stone on Santorini was forced up in its molten state
from the bowels of the earth, and spilled out over the surface to create this
million years have passed since the molten rock, the magma, first broke out of
the depths in which it was formed, to appear on the surface of the earth here in
this spot. It has taken thousands of eruptions since then to build up the island
of Santorini. In the last 400,000 years alone there have been more than 100
eruptions, each of which added a new layer of earth and rock, slowly making the
island bigger. Some of these eruptions were so violent that they demolished a
large part of the volcano; but, with patient persistence it built itself up time
and time again.
last of these truly catastrophic eruptions occurred 3,600 years ago, during the
Late Bronze Age. This was a period when the island was vibrant with life and
movement, enjoying a flourishing civilisation similar to that of Minoan Crete.
This tremendous eruption, known as the "Minoan eruption", ejected into
the air 30 cubic kilometers of magma in the form of pumice and volcanic ash.
This material buried the island and its civilization, the remains of which are
currently being brought to light by the archaeological excavations at Akrotiri.
This catastrophe, taken together with the collapse of the volcano in the
eruption, gave rise to the legend of the Lost Atlantis: where the island of
Strongili, (as we called the island before this eruption), once flourished in
the brilliance of its civilisation; there now gaped a yawning crucible which the
sea rushed to fill this is the caldera we see today. Thira, Thirasia and
Aspronisi: these are all that remain of Strongili.
guide recounts the next chapter in the story, the volcanic activity that
occurred during the historical era creating Palea and Nea Kameni. It describes
the process of their creation, and the principle characteristics of their
geological formations and rocks; it suggests routes and stopping- places. It
aims and aspires to bridge the gap between the small groups of experts who use
the incomprehensible jargon of their science, and the great bulk of visitors to
the island who are eager for information expressed in clear and simple language.
It also attempts to fill, at least in part, a serious deficiency found in most
tourist guides of Santorini, and that is the lack of information on its
geological and volcanic history and evolution, and the unique beauty of the
island's rocks and geological formations.
well have we succeeded? You,
the visitor, must be the final judge of that.
The Volcano of Santorini