Devastation of the 1956 Earthquake

The year is 1956 and Santorini is as beautiful as it has always been with its white and blue adobe buildings perched on the caldera cliffs. The markets are filled with venders eager to sell their fresh produce. Profitis Ilias is looming over the city like a Sheppard watching over his flock. To any regular native of Santorini this seems like another day of business and enjoyment.

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Evolution of the Santorini Volcano

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.

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Tectonism in the Aegean

As I began the hike to Ancient Thera, I saw before me an immense mountain of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Due to the rocks being millions of years old, I felt as if every step I took was another leap back in time and a look into the origins of Santorini. The tectonic setting in the Aegean Sea is rare due to the several processes that are constantly in motion. A subduction zone, normal faults, and a transform plate boundary come together to make a unique geologic setting.

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