<= Prev.

Home

Next =

Beyond the Eruption - Mechanics of Volcanic Activity and Its Aftermath


Volcanic eruptions can range from gentle lava flows inching over the edge of volcanic cones, to composite volcanoes which shoot fountains of lava skyward expelling great clouds of steam and gas, roaring with life as fragmented lava and ash rains back to earth. Thera is an example of a composite volcano which erupted with such force that much of the summit was blown off forming the caldera seen today.

Determining how disruptive this event was to the surrounding islands and the overall economic outlook for the Cycladeic and Minoan cultures first requires an understanding of the magnitude of the eruption.

A thorough analysis of the Santorini (Thera) caldera was begun in 2006 by the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island and the Institute of Oceanography of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) in Athens, in order to understand the impact of eruptions, describe navigational routes, and clarify the interactions among Aegean and Mediterranean maritime civilizations. Through their research they hope to reconcile the geological stratigraphy with the archaeological record.

For a detailed look at their 2006 expeditions visit http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06blacksea/background/plan/plan.html


Following analysis of the volcanic stratigraphy and debris field, it was confirmed that the Thera eruption was one of the largest eruptions in human history, second only to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia.

The international research team found volcanic pumice and ash in deposits averaging 100 feet thick and spread as far as 19 miles out in every direction.

Consequent tsunamis were an almost certain occurrence. The 1883 eruption of Krakatau was far smaller and created a 100 foot high tsunami responsible for 36,000 deaths as well as pyroclastic flows which traveled to surrounding islands killing an additional 1,000 people. (McLeish, 2006)

Having gained an understanding of the mechanics of volcanic activity the next step is to apply them to the Aegean situation to see how the physical devastation led to the loss of trade and a cultural shift among these civilizations.
The Above Video Provides A Brief Primer of Volcanic Activity and a Visual Representation of Events

<= Prev.

Home

Next =>