Rocky Heights: Sacred Land and Geology meet in Athens

I step off the marble curb of my hostel into the quiet streets of Plaka in Athens, Greece, and I am alone for a just a moment. The same grey and black cobblestone streets that were alive with the energy of tourists and vendors only hours before are now quiet. Once bright pastel buildings have been dulled by the sun’s rays. Their shutters hang askew, and clothes lines overhang the narrow streets like banners stretched between buildings. Next door, an old man sweeps the streets outside the Taverna with its red and white checkered table cloths. Continue reading “Rocky Heights: Sacred Land and Geology meet in Athens”

Field Notes for the First Time

Most people in college sit in a lecture hall and take notes from a powerpoint with their notebook on a desk, and for me, gaze out the windows wishing to be outside. Taking notes here in Santorini is much different, we’re outside, in the heat, with a handy field pack on our back and our cherished field notebook in our hand. Field notebooks are a geologist’s most prized possession and contain loads of information within their pages. I came into the NAU in Greece program with only taking one geology class and I had no experience with field notes. I will show what it is like to take field notes for the first time, and how to make good descriptions without ever doing them before for the ultimate souvenir. Continue reading “Field Notes for the First Time”

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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Turmoil in the Streets- The Greek Government Debt Crisis Plagues the Country for more than a Decade

 

 

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Started From the Bottom, Now We’re Here

I am a happy person. I like to laugh, eat good food with good people, read, and travel. But there have only been a handful of moments in my existence where I have felt truly full of life. June 13th, 2016 held one of those moments. Every passing day on this paradise, I learn or try something new, which is exciting in and of itself, but June 13th was different than the other days. That was the day that I decided geology and I would be together forever.

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To The Moon, Pyroclastic Flows & Beyond!

June 8th, 2016: Today, NAU in Greece visited the moon…in a Fiat van. With my head out the window and my hair not-so-elegantly-wind blown, we had arrived to Vlychada beach. Upon arrival, my ears were overwhelmed by the sound of the waves gently picking up stones and dropping them and my eyes didn’t know whether to take in the deep blue of the ocean, or the rigid outline of distant islands, or the massive moon-like rock wall to the left of me. All of this pleasant thinking was quickly interrupted by a hefty gust of wind that dusted my eyes with a uninvited layer of ash. At that moment, I directed my interest to the origin of my pain: the moonscape.

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Stratigraphic Columns and How to Keep Your Cool

 

Before going into the field my fellow classmates of 10 and myself received a lesson on stratigraphic columns and how to create one out of an outcrop. Needless to say I was an expert after this one lesson and fairly confident in my capability to rock this. We strut out into the field with our day packs, field notebook and ipads ready to show this massive collection of rocks who’s boss. Well, little did I know that was not me.

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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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A Glimpse of the Past

Humans have learned to use rocks for many different purposes in life, such as for tools, jewelry, and even counter tops, but what intrigues me is the observation and inference of rocks that tell a story of the past. Even after taking multiple geology classes at NAU, I have only recently learned about one important characteristic of volcanic deposits that provides information on how an eruption occurred thousands of years ago; a block sag.  The geologic definition of a “block” is defined as an angular piece of lava (larger than 64mm) that was ballistically ejected from a volcanic vent. On the other hand, a block sag is a depressed or indented section of rock strata that was created by a ballistically ejected angular fragment of a volcano during an explosive eruption. The blocks that we’ve seen here on Santorini have had a wide variety of sizes, ranging up to two meters. We found an impressive two meter block on the edge of Cape Akrotiri, which is on the southwest tip of the island. (Observation Point 9 on the map below)

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