An Explosive Story from Under the Sea

For hundreds of years, I have been swimming under the surface of the water, earning my name; Kolumbo. I have the ability to create land and life, but I can also take these away. My constant enemy, the ocean, tries to suppress me, believing the false pretense that I am only capable of death and destruction. But I have been here, giving and taking, just as Mother Nature destined me to do.

Figure 1: Map of the Santorini Archipelago in relation to the Kolumbo Volcano and fault line. Adapted from Nomikou et al. (2012).

I live eight kilometers Northeast of the Santorini Archipelago, however, I keep my head under the water, as to not frighten any tourists. They know I am here as there is a fault line named after me that stretches for forty kilometers across the bottom of the Aegean Sea (Fig 1). Fifteen meters under the water, the sky above ripples, the fish tickle my nose, and the magma boils in my belly. It was 1650 BCE when Mother told me it was time to wreak havoc. It had been a long time since I had the opportunity to blow off some steam, and I was starting to get uncomfortable with the bulging magma running through my veins.

Figure 2: Sequence of events of the Kolumbo eruption. Adapted from Cantner et al. (2010)

To the great dissent of the ocean who desperately tried to destroy my progress, I built myself up towards the surface. When I finally reached the surface, I shot ash, pumice and gases into the air (Fig 2). I watched as the havoc I wrecked boiled over the ocean, a cloud of death and destruction. I didn’t want to kill anybody, but Mother had commanded it, and I was simply a servant to her wishes.

Figure 3: Rendition of Kolumbo eruption

My eyes peeked over the waters’ surface and I watched as a gray cloud began to drop down to the water’s surface (Fig 4). I knew this cloud would cause the real destruction to the inhabited islands could see at the point where the sky met the ocean.

Figure 4: Rendition of the Pyroclastic flow caused by the Kolumbo eruption.

I watched as the edge of the gray cloud touched the ocean, forcing the water to rise and accelerate towards the land (Fig 5). I knew it would continue to gain momentum and height as it raced for the unsuspecting population.

Figure 5: Rendition of Pyroclastic flow causing a tsunami upon contact with the water.

I knew the eruption would harm others. I was concerned about my discomfort more than the lives of my fellow creatures. All they would see was the gray-white cloud of death rolling across the ocean water to engulf them. If they were lucky, they would see the top of my head and they would know I was here. They would not want to be friendly towards me after this; they would curse me, blame me, and fear me. My insides felt empty, and I could feel myself collapsing in on myself. I didn’t fight it as I tumbled down, down, down into myself. The guilt I felt in that moment was beyond anything I thought I was capable of feeling.

Figure 6: Map of the ocean floor depicting the topography of Kolumbo. Adapted from NOAA.

Since that fateful day, I have been building myself back up, desperate to see what happened to that small island. The highest point I have reached thus far is ten kilometers below the surface. I have had to move slowly as to not draw the Mother’s attention, fearful that if she catches me, she may order me to erupt again. I have been holding onto the small sliver of hope that I did not cause the extinction of any land creatures. I hope if there are any left that they will come to me, appreciate me and forgive me for what happened so long ago.

References:

Cantner, K., Carey, S., Nomikou, P., 2013, Integrated volcanologic and petrologic analysis of the 1650 AD eruption of Kolumbo submarine volcano, Greece: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0377027313002953 (accessed June 2019).

Nomikou, P., Carey, S., Papanikolaou, D., Croff Bell, K., Sakellariou, D., Alexandri, M., Bejelou, K., 2012, Submarine volcanoes of the Kolumbo volcanic zone NE of Santorini Caldera, Greece: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818112000021 (accessed June 2019)

Sigurdsson, Haraldur, 2006, Thera 2006 Expedition Summary: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06blacksea/logs/summary_thera/summary_thera.html (accessed June 2019).

One thought on “An Explosive Story from Under the Sea

  1. This is such an interesting perspective of the Kolumbo volcano! I love the personality that you gave the volcano and how those emotions correlated to its eruption pattern. This is so creative and entertaining: if this was a kids book I would buy it in a heartbeat!

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