I am currently sitting on a lounge chair by our hotel pool in beautiful Fira, Santorini, blogging and learning about the Aegean Sea and the active volcano that lies about 3.4 kilometers from my location.
I’m standing at the bottom of a 369 meter tall mountain, ready to walk up a 30% gradient trail (That’s approximately 1,210 feet for all you non-metric people). The trailhead (Figure A) looks inviting yet slightly menacing. The sun is beating down on me and its a long walk up. Mesa Vouno rises up like a god amongst kings in this island paradise. How did a (nonvolcanic) mountain end up as a part of this caldera island?
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”
Growing up as the oddball of the family, I found comfort in reading.. reading and learning about history. The things of the past and how they differentiate from how things are today. On the very first day we spent in Athens, we walked up the three thousand year old pathway to the Acropolis, the very same pathway that the Athenians of Classical Greece took. At first glance I saw this piece of history, from the marble columns to the Porch of Maidens and I was amazed that people of the past without the technology that we have today built these things with such precise and critical thinking.
I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and have experienced my fair share of earthquakes. I remember when I was ten years old and I woke up to my bed moving back and forth. I thought my brother was playing a prank on me, but I quickly understood that this was not due to human hands. I was scared of course, but I was also curious about why the ground was moving so violently. Continue reading “The Clashing of Giants”
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.
Just a couple months ago, I had no idea that the sea of Greece was home to a caldera much like the ones that I learned about in my introductory geology course the first semester of my time at Northern Arizona University. I have realized that many of the geological processes in the world have been left in the shadows and ignored. Traveling across the Atlantic ocean to Santorini, I have began to broaden my understanding of the forces of earth in this part of the world. As inspiration goes, I have been drawn further in my curiosity to wonder: Is Santorini, the floating volcano in the Aegean Sea, not alone?
Who among us has not at some point been interested in mythology? The stories? The drama? The art? Ever since I was little I have loved mythology. Was it because Hercules was the first movie I ever saw in movie theaters? Maybe. But the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece have been captivating people for centuries because of their elaborate and dramatic backstories and lives. It’s rare to find a collection of stories so complex and rooted in such spectacular architecture, sculptures, and history.
Volcanic gases are widely understood to be one of the more dangerous aspects of active volcanoes. Where they can certainly be hazardous to your health or even deadly, the volcanic gases also have a more positive side that never seems to get enough light. Hot springs pop up all around the world near active volcanoes, and gases emitted by volcanic vents provide useful scientific opportunities. Such opportunities should be taken, though cautiously, because these gases don’t have a bad reputation for no reason.
Hiking 9.5 million year old metamorphic rocks, snorkeling at the edge of the caldera shelf, and cliff jumping from Spartan ruins wakes you up, but it pales in comparison to the intense brain blasts NAU in Greece has generated. It has tied everything I previously learned into three big, life-altering weeks. Through each geology course I have taken, I studied the processes driving volcanic creations and eruptions and how they are ultimately dictated by their magmatic properties; NAU in Greece took all my university knowledge and threw it at the Santorini Volcanic Complex to create my deepest understanding of volcanic properties thus far. Continue reading “Wake Me Up: Creating A Geologist”