The Minoan Tsunami: Two Theories, Past and Present

When I was thirteen I visited the coastal Alaskan town of Yakutat for a photography trip with my dad. On the beach there were signs to look out for wash up items on the beach from the 2011 Japan tsunami, some of the items included dolls, soccer balls and a lot of trash. I was shocked to see these items on a beach in Alaska when the tsunami occurred over 4000 miles away. This was my first and only experience with a tsunami. Six years later I came here to Greece and learned about the tsunami from the Minoan eruption and my curiosity was piqued again. 

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Moving Megatons: The Excavational Eruptions of Calderas

I’ve just learned the full story of the Minoan eruption. In my mind, I’m imagining 60 cubic kilometers of earth. This is about the size of a block of the Los Angeles basin, by volume; a massive amount of land. I can see all this land being ejected by the volcano miles into the sky, over a span of 24 hours. Such is the case of Santorini’s last caldera forming eruption.  Continue reading “Moving Megatons: The Excavational Eruptions of Calderas”

Minoans Know Best

In the late Bronze Age the Minoans did not have the technology to monitor the caldera but evidence shows they left before the Minoan eruption of 1613 BC. As a class we visited the ancient Minoan city Akrotiri which is sometimes called the Greek Pompeii. The city has been preserved by the ash fall from the Minoan eruption there is clear evidence the Minoans left before the eruption. I want to know what caused them to leave and did they know that a major eruption was going to occur? Today scientists can monitor the volcanic activity of Nea Kameni but they can’t predict when a volcano will erupt or know if they should call for an evacuation.

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Architects Who Built Their Own Death Traps

Before going to a foreign country many people research the areas they are interested in and then decide where they are going to stay and what they are going to do while they are there. Some people may look at the weather or go during a certain season so that it is the most enjoyable to them. Even fewer people will research and learn about the government of the country they will be staying in and its relationship with their home country. Continue reading “Architects Who Built Their Own Death Traps”

Field Trips Through Time: A Geographical History of Santorini

As I walk the streets of Fira, Santorini and swim through the waves of tourists I see that most of them look out towards the center of the caldera. To them this island has always looked this way. Many know that around 1613 BC there was a cataclysmic eruption that forms the present day caldera and was a leading factor to the end of the Minoan civilization. Although they understand this, they do not realize that three cataclysmic caldera forming eruptions preceded the Minoan eruption and that even in the thousands of years in between each eruption the geography was constantly changing and morphing through volcanism and erosion into new shapes. As our class hiked around Thera, I saw before my eyes the different parts of this complex past that make it the paradise that it is today.

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Unsuspecting Tourists and the Hazards of Nea Kameni

There really is no place like this in the world. A place where the water shines a deep, mesmerizing blue to the point where you get lost in the oscillation of the waves. A place where buildings as white as snow, with roof tops a glimmering light blue fill the eye as far as it can see. Where the sheer cliffs that change color what looks like every few feet stretching down to the beginnings of the sea. This is not just a place of beauty, but a place of destruction. A place where without warning, an unworldly power can be unleashed from the depths. The violent history is that of one’s nightmares. This is not a place of fiction, this is Santorini.

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Prepare for the Unknown

I went around Santorini asking locals and tourists how much they really know about the geologic dangers on the island. A young local boy told me “The old people tell us [stories of the island] and we forget, so we make up our own stories.” He had a decent idea about the island but didn’t know a lot about the active volcano nor the active fault line on Santorini. His friend confessed to me that he knew nothing about the island and felt as if he didn’t need to know. He explained “I work and sleep here, nothing else.”

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What goes up must come down… Right?

 

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.

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Shake what Mama Earth Gave You

This week, the class took a 6 hour trip around the archipelago to hike the still active Nea Kameni volcano and observe the caldera rim up close. Also known as “Boat Day”, it was the climax of our 3 week visit to Santorini. I had never been on a small boat before, therefore I had no idea of how to move around the very turbulent vessel, nor whether I’m prone to sea sickness or not. Thankfully I gained my sea legs and enjoyed the excursion like it was an amusement park ride. The way the boat swayed under my feet and the balance I had to struggle to find reminded me of being in an earthquake. Continue reading “Shake what Mama Earth Gave You”

Vacation While You Can

My first view of Santorini was from a crowded ferry deck. I had seen pictures of this place but pictures simply could not do this justice. I stood in awestruck silence taking in the scenes while enjoying the salty breeze, which was much welcomed on this scorching day. The towering cliffs of brown hues are peppered with perfectly contrasting white buildings. As I watched the scenery pass me by, I began to wonder what I would be learning in the next three weeks. I started thinking about the volcanic activity that created this island, as well as what would happen to it should there be another eruption. Would everything I see be destroyed? We sail past the old port with its winding switchbacks that make my legs tired just thinking about carrying my luggage. Thankfully our ship keeps moving toward a modern port where an air-conditioned car will be waiting to carry me, and my luggage, to the top of this steep sided caldera. Continue reading “Vacation While You Can”