This is it. This is the last blog topic of the term and I found myself once again struggling for a topic. We’ve experienced so much that just thinking about it makes my head spin. The first couple days into the class were quite possibly the worst and the best days of my life. The best because here I am, little ole me in another country submerging myself in a completely different culture and gaining new knowledge. The worst because here I am completely clueless about what we were learning. I knew this class would be difficult as it’s a class with graduate level material and I’m coming in as an upcoming sophomore.
I could slowly feel myself drowning in all the different volcanoes and areas that make up Santorini. As the days went by I slowly start to understand more. And now as the end of the class draws, I reflect back to the very first day of class and how I almost dreaded the thought of coming into this, and now here I am wishing that it would never end. Yesterday was absolutely my favorite day because it was boat day. Boat day is best day of class, because we spend all day on an old 30 year wooden boat, sailing over the deep and mysterious caldera. We got up close and personal with the active Nea Kameni dome as we hiked up its steep slopes
As we slowly but steadily approach the shore of Nea Kameni, I felt my eyes widen as the towering figure grew higher in height as we approached. I also felt my legs shake as we crossed from boat to boat until we were finally standing on this active volcano. We start hiking up and I feel myself slowly falling to the back of the group not only because I’m not a fan of hiking but because I was slowly taking in the scenery. I thought back to the lesson we had the night before.
In this lesson we talked about ground inflation. Volcanic activity in Santorini was is in many ways associated with ground inflation. Ground inflation is when the height of the ground rising due to forces under the ground. There are two type of inflation and they determine whether that rising is permanent or temporary.
Magmatic Ground inflation is when magma rises up to just below the surface at approximately 5-6 km in depth in the case of Santorini. As it rises up, it slowly pushes the surface upwards. As more and more magma pushes up, the higher the surface goes. This type of ground inflation is permanent because as the magma cools the surface above it sinks a little but will have changed in height.
Hydrothermal ground inflation occurs when the hydrothermal reservoir expands with the hot water it is receiving and that causes the ground to inflate. Hydrothermal reservoirs are right above the magma chamber and they use convection to take in cold water and as it gets hot, the heat turn the waters into steam which builds up pressure in the reservoir causing the ground to inflate. This process of ground inflation is only temporary because the ground is only being brought up by hot steam but as the steam contracts cold, the ground slowly starts to sink down.
Later on in the lesson, we learned that the north side of the Kameni Islands rising at a max of 20 cm in height by magmatic ground inflation. The magma inflation tells us that this volcano is still active because of the pulsing magma that is slowly pushing more and more at the surface causing it to rise.
Sailing in and learning about the Aegean Sea was an experience in itself, but to being able to understand geological features all around me is truly amazing. Ground inflation can happen two ways through magmatic or hydrothermal. Nea Kameni is the island that is receiving the magmatic ground inflation that gives us evidence of the still active volcano. While this trip may be coming to an end, the start of a new eruption or a new island is just beginning.