A tsunami could be caused by an underwater volcano off the coast of Santorini

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Although Kolumbo, an undersea volcano close off the Greek island of Santorini, has been silent for nearly 400 years, it is not dormant. The steady filling of a previously unknown magma chamber with melt has led researchers to advise real-time volcano monitoring.

70 people were killed when Kolumbo last erupted in 1650, but due to Santorini’s growing tourism industry and population expansion, the effects of a similar eruption today would be much more devastating.

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Kolumbo is a member of the group of volcanoes that are extremely explosive and can produce an eruption column that is tens of kilometers high. It is quite dangerous since it might also start a tsunami.

Kajetan Chrapkiewicz from Imperial College London and his colleagues discovered melt accumulating around two kilometers beneath the volcano using a novel imaging technology that is comparable to a medical ultrasound. Although an eruption is not immediately anticipated, their findings—which were published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems—indicate that the volcano still offers a significant threat.

In order to reconstruct Kolumbo’s eruption history over the last few million years, another team of researchers on the Joides Resolution research vessel is digging sediments nearby. They aim to study the relationships between earthquakes and volcanoes in this area and look into how sea level change affects the size and frequency of eruptions, among other things.

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