Pumice and Wine: A Tasty Mix

No matter your destination while you’re on Santorini, you’re bound to see at least one vineyard. Unless you know that Santorini is known for its wine, you might not be able to tell that these are grape plants at all. Due to the high winds on Santorini, the grape vines are grown using a technique called koulara. Koulara trains the grapes to grow in a circular fashion and stay low to the ground to avoid damage (1). The Minoan eruption, the most recent caldera forming eruption, deposited volcanic rocks, ash, and pumice all around the island of Santorini. Little did the violent volcano know that it would be providing Santorini with its distinct wine!

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Food from Ash

Food has always been a source of happiness and comfort for me and it’s a main component of why I want to travel. Since arriving at the port of Athinos in Santorini I have had so much delicious food. I’ve eaten everything from street food gyros, to tomato basil seafood risotto, to traditional moussaka. After experiencing all the amazing food Santorini has to offer, I asked myself why the does the food here taste so much better than back home? Then I remembered I was standing on a volcano.

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Petros: An Unexpected Journey

At around 1613 BCE, the island of Santorini had a cataclysmic event, the Minoan eruption. The caldera reached a VEI of 6 and the eruption column reached heights of up to 38 kilometers. This caldera forming eruption produced a 60 meter thick layer of pumice that blanketed the island. One specific piece of pumice named Petros was born on this day. After experiencing a terrifying journey … Continue reading Petros: An Unexpected Journey

Buried Treasure: The City of Akrotiri

There is a silence as I enter the climate controlled dome to see the ancient city of Akrotiri. This is partially due to being told “Shhhhhh” by our professor Lisa, but it’s also because everyone’s jaw dropped while staring at these ruins. The only thing that could be heard was the pitter patter of feet from children and even they weren’t saying anything.  It was like entering a 3600 year old church frozen in time by ash and pumice with even the colors of the frescoes being preserved. Continue reading “Buried Treasure: The City of Akrotiri”

Lava Flows: More good than harm?

Upon arriving at the port of Santorini on the ferry, I look up noticing ridged layers of tan, brown, and beige blanketing each other into mountainous volcanoes. Each hue and layer tells a different story of formation, magnitude, and volcanic material present during the eruption. Every layer is unique in that no layer is like any other. Some are supported by ash and pumice, while others are completely supported by lava flows. I was thrilled to undertake this new adventure at such a young age, but there is a daunting feeling in the back of my mind to know that when this caldera erupts once again, nothing that we know of it will remain.

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A Rock Solid Idea: Impermeable Cement


On the first day in the field, our group walked down the road from our hotel to Fira Quarry. From the top of the trail, I had a great view of the size of the rock outcrops that extended all the way down into the mined out area, but from the bottom of the quarry I was staring up at 20 meters of Minoan eruption ash and pumice. The wall of rock that stood dauntingly above me made me think about why it stopped where it did and what happened to all the other material that once filled in the area we were standing in, and why it would benefit anyone to mine the pumice at the quarry. Continue reading “A Rock Solid Idea: Impermeable Cement”

Akrotiri: a City Frozen in Time

Buried beneath meters of thick solidified volcanic material, is an ancient city named Akrotiri. Hidden for approximately 3600 years, the ruins of an ancient Minoan civilization were found on the southern region of Thera, Santorini’s largest island. Excavation began in 1967 by a professor named Spyridon Marinatos who believed that the eruption of the volcanic complex that makes up Santorini, was the reason behind the fall of Minoan civilization.

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Wine on Santorini — Meant to Be


Evidence of wine production in Santorini dates back to 3500 B.C., but it was not until after the Caldera-forming Minoan eruption 20 centuries later that gave the island it’s unique environmental and geological characteristics that make the wine cultivation so unique. The rich soil that fuels over 10% of the island’s economy is known as “Aspa”, which is mainly composed of the porous volcanic rock called pumice, along with the volcanic ash from this explosive eruption.(1) The lack of clay in the soil make Santorini one of the few areas in the world not affected by the devastating Phylloxera pest, who depends on a high clay content to survive. Without the volcanic/tectonic influence on Santorini’s soil, wine cultivation on this Mediterranean island would have never made it through the 19th century. (3)


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