Contact | RSS | EN | DE | EL | ES | FR | IT | RU

Santorini volcano

Updated: Nov 25, 2022 12:58 GMT -
Caldera (complex stratovolcano) 329 m (on caldera rim) / 128 m (top of most recent lava shield, Nea Kameni)
Cyclades, Greece, 36.4°N / 25.4°E
Current status: normal or dormant (1 out of 5)
Last update: 6 Mar 2022 (seismic swarm off the southwest of the island)
View of the caldera of Santorini from Fira town, with the young volcanic island of Nea Kameni in the background.
View of the caldera of Santorini from Fira town, with the young volcanic island of Nea Kameni in the background.

Santorini is a volcanic Island group at the central south end of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea (Greece). As a popular tourist destination in Greece, it is renowned for its spectacular sea-filled volcanic caldera sourrounded by steep colorful cliffs, the beauty of its villages and fields.

Show interactive Map
[hide map] [enlarge]
Typical eruption style: Dominantly explosive, with effusive activity during intervals. Powerful explosive, so-called Plinian eruptions appear to occur every 10-30,000 years. Construction of lava shields and minor to irregularly spaced subplinian explosive activity during interval times.
Santorini volcano eruptions: 1613 BC +-7 years (the so-called "Minoan eruption", one of the largest plinian eruptions during the past 10,000 years on earth)
historic eruptions: 197 BC, 46/47 AD, 726, 1570-1573, 1707-1711, 1866-1870, 1925-1928, 1939-1941, 1950

Latest nearby earthquakes

No recent earthquakes

Background

The island group of Santorini is the most well-known and active volcanic centre of the Hellenic Volcanic Arc in the south Aegean Sea. It is a very complex stratovolcano dominated by a large, sea-flooded caldera created by several large explosive eruptions. The different products of about 2 million years of volcanic activity have accumulated around a small non-volcanic basement, that once formed a small island similar to the other cycladic islands. Most of the volcanic layers are visible in the multi-colored sequences of the impressive steep inner walls of the caldera, striking the visitor who reaches the island by boat.The last eruption took place in an phreatic eruption on Nea Kameni island in 1950.

The Minoan Eruption
Santorini's volcanic activity during the past 2-500,000 years has been dominated by very large explosive eruptions at intervals of few tens of thousands of years. The most recent of this type occurred at around 1613 BC and is known as the so-called Minoan eruption. The late Bronze Age eruption, one of the biggest known volcanic explosions in younger time,- and one of the most studied, but still most mysterious eruptions of all time-, devastated not only Santorini, but had a deep impact on the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps it even had serious world-wide effects and changed history.
Still today, one can see its deposits, the characteristic, tens of meters thick layer of white pumice and ash that blankets most of the surface of the island group. The eruption changed the shape of the island itself dramatically: it is now believed that before the eruption, it had the shape of an almost complete ring that enclosed an earlier, shallower caldera. Then, large sections of island collapsed into the emptied magma chamber after the eruption, literally disappearing under the sea. The ring-island was breached to the W and NW, and the caldera was significantly widened and deepened.
The Minoan eruption devastated the rich, highly developed economic center, that Santorini was at that time. Since 1969, intense archaeological excavations have brought to light an important Cycladic/Minoan town which had been buried beneath the volcanic ash for almost 4000 years. Although it appears that people had time to evacuate their island in time before the eruption, carrying most of their goods with them, the findings from Akrotiri are impressive: especially, they include well-preserved and magnificent wall paintings, ceramics and other objects. Thanks to the work of numerous archaeologists, a new light was thrown on an important prehistoric period and culture. The spectacular discovery even induced continuing speculations that relate the volcanic destruction of Santorini to the legend of the sunken Atlantis.

The historic eruptions of Santorini volcano (Palea and Nea Kameni)
Although at present dormant, Santorini has been active several times in historic time. Since its last major explosive eruption (at about 1645 BC) numerous minor and medium-sized, mainly effusive eruptions have occurred. This activity built the dark-colored islands of Nea and Palea Kameni inside the caldera. Their first appearance was witnessed and reported by Greek and Roman writers. The last eruption on Nea Kameni occurred in 1950. At present, Santorini is dormant, and volcanism manifests as fumarolic activity and hot springs around the islands.

Santorini Photos



1950 eruption
10. Jan. 1950 - 2. Feb. 1950: Small effusive activity ("Liatsikas" lavas) preceded by phreatic explosions.
More info

1939-41 eruption
20. Aug. 1939 - July 1941 -- Formation of several lava domes ("Tritona", "Ktenas", "Fouqué", "Smith-Reck" and "Niki"). Extrusive and slighly explosive activity. Lava outflow in most cases preceeded by phreatic explosions.
more info

1925-28 eruption
11. Aug. 1925- 17. March 1928 -- Moderate effusive and explosive activity. Growth of Nea Kameni. Lava flows, lava fountains and ash-falls.
- Aug. 1925 -- Rising temperature in the Red bay ("Kokkina Nera", gr. = red waters) at the eastern shore of Nea Kameni and subsidence of Nea Kameni's east shore. Vapor fountains and lava outflow. ...more

1866-1870 eruption
4. Feb. 1866 - 15. Oct. 1870 -- Moderate effusive and minor explosive activity. Mikri and Nea Kameni unite. Lava flows, lava fountains and ash-falls. ...more

1711 - 1866 activity
No volcanic activity occurred during 1711-1866. Mikri and Nea Kameni were 2 separated islands forming 2 natural bays (Georgios and Vulkano bay). Sulfuric fumaroles in Vulkano bay. Building of a small harbor and ca. 50 summerhouses (!) on Nea Kameni.

1707-1711 eruption: Nea Kameni appears
23. May 1707 - Sept. 1711 -- Formation of Nea Kameni (gr., = "the new burnt island"). Strong surtseyan and effusive activity. Ash-fall and gas explosions. Lowering of the coastline of Thera and Mikri Kameni. ...more

1650 Kolumbo volcano eruption
27. Sept 1650 -- Kolumbo submarine volcano (ca. 8 km NE of Cape Kolumbo, Santorini): strong surtseyan-subplinian eruption with ash and pumice fall, toxic gasses (>50 fatalities). Generation of a strong tsunami.
more info on Kolumbo volcano

1570 eruption: Mikri Kameni Island appears
Formation of Mikri Kameni (gr., = "small burnt island"). Surtseyan activity, ash-fall and block fall-out accompany the formation of a lava dome which rises above sea level to form the new island Mikri Kameni.

1457-1458 activity
Unclear reports from Athanasius Kircher (1665) and Buondelmonte (1465/66) indicate that either a part of Palea Kameni collapsed and disappeared or a new island between Palea Kameni and Thera was built.

726 AD subplinian (?) eruption
Strong explosive probably sub-plinian eruption. Records by Nicephoros (758-823), Theophanes (752-818) and Cedremus (after 1059). Probably small effusive activity following the pumice eruption creating the black blocky lava lobe at Agios Nikolaos (the small harbor bay with the church and hot iron springs).

46 - 726 AD activity
No reports of activity are known from that period. There was either actually no eruption or it has not been recorded.

46 AD eruption - appearance of a new island
Appearance of a new island that probably grew together with Hiera and formed the basis of Palea Kameni. Descriptions by Roman historians Seneca (4 BC-65 AD), Livy (59 BC-AD 17), Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Dio Cassius (ca. 200 AD), Aurelius Victor (4th century AD), Philostratos (ca. 200 AD), Orosius (5th century AD), Cassiodorus. (418-562 AD), Labbreus (1670). Probably surtseyan activity with updoming of the sea-floor.

197 BC eruption: appearance of Palea Kameni
Formation of an island called Hiera (gr., = "the holy one") inside the caldera, probably a precursor of Palea Kameni. Documented by greek and Roman writers: Strabo (66BC - 24 AD), Plutarch (ca. 40-120 AD), Pausanias (ca.120 AD), Justinus (2nd century AD), Eusebius from Cesarea (270-340 AD) and Ammianus Marcellinus (ca. 330-400 AD). Probably surtseyan activity with updoming of the sea-floor (comparable with the 1707-1711 events).

1613 +- 13 BC Minoan eruption
The most recent plinian eruption on Santorini occurred in the late Bronze Age at around 1613 BC and is known as the so-called Minoan eruption. It is one the biggest known volcanic explosions in younger time,- and one of the most studied, but still most mysterious eruptions of all time-. It devastated not only Santorini, but had a deep impact on the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps it even had serious world-wide effects and changed history.
Size of the Minoan eruption
Dating of the Minoan eruption
Still today, one can see its deposits, the characteristic, tens of meters thick layer of white pumice and ash that blankets most of the surface of the island group. The eruption changed the shape of the island itself dramatically: it is now believed that before the eruption, it had the shape of an almost complete ring that enclosed an earlier, shallower caldera.
Large sections of island collapsed into the emptied magma chamber after the eruption, literally disappearing under the sea. The ring-island was breached to the W and NW, and the caldera was significantly widened and deepened.
The Minoan eruption devastated the rich, highly developed economic center, that Santorini was at that time. Since 1969, intense archaeological excavations have brought to light an important Cycladic/Minoan town which had been buried beneath the volcanic ash for almost 4000 years. Although it appears that people had time to evacuate their island in time before the eruption, carrying most of their goods with them, the findings from Akrotiri are impressive: especially, they include well-preserved and magnificent wall paintings, ceramics and other objects. Thanks to the work of numerous archaeologists, a new light was thrown on an important prehistoric period and culture. The spectacular discovery even induced continuing speculations that relate the volcanic destruction of Santorini to the legend of the sunken Atlantis.

See also: Sentinel hub | Landsat 8 | NASA FIRMS

Santorini volcano tours

Santorini Island (Greece)
Santorini Geology Tour
private tours to discover Santorini's geology with a volcanologist, 1-3 days
1-3 days - Custom (variable)
Price from 750 EUR
Custom tour dates
Santorini Island (Greece)
Light of the Aegean
Photo tour to Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
4-7 days - Easy
Price on request
Custom and group dates
Santorini Island (Greece)
Fascination Volcano
7-day study and walking tour on Santorini, Greece
7 days / 6 nights - Moderate
Price 1690 €
30 Sep - 6 Oct 2023
Santorini (Greece)
Pearl of the Aegean
8-day walking and study tour on Santorini, Greece
8 days / 7 nights - Easy to Moderate
Price 1780 €
29 Apr - 6 May 2023

Further information / links:

Santorini Decade Volcano / www.decadevolcano.net/santorini/santorini.htm
Tom's private website about Santorini, Etna and other volcanoes. Contains a huge archive of volcano photos, information and other stuff.
Thu, 12 Aug 2021, 06:40

Santorini volcano (Greece): frescoes from the Bronze-Age town at Akrotiri

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Bronze-Age town near Akrotiri on Santorini Island, covered by volcanic ash during the Minoan eruption around 1600 BC and partially excavated since 1956, are a great number of marvelous frescoes that might rank among the most inspiring pieces of art from the 2nd millennium BC, but also provide a unique insight into life and culture at the heyday of the Minoan and Cycladic culture. ... Read all
Tue, 20 Apr 2021, 18:13

Moderate earthquake near undersea volcano beside Santorini, Greece. Should we worry?

This morning's earthquake near Kolumbo volcano offshore Santorini
This morning, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake occurred 10 km northeast of Santorini Island. The quake hit at 11.21 am local time. It was felt by many people on Santorini, especially in the northern part of the island in the town of Oia, mostly as weak shaking that lasted a few seconds. ... Read all
Sunset over the Nea Kameni volcano (c) Tobias Schorr
The bay with thermal water at Palea Kameni island (c) Tom Pfeiffer
Try our free app!
Volcanoes & Earthquakes - new app for Android
Android | iOS version

More on VolcanoDiscovery

Support us - Help us upgrade our services!

We truly love working to bring you the latest volcano and earthquake data from around the world. Maintaining our website and our free apps does require, however, considerable time and resources.
We need financing to increase hard- and software capacity as well as support our editor team. We're aiming to achieve uninterrupted service wherever an earthquake or volcano eruption unfolds, and your donations can make it happen! Every donation will be highly appreciated. If you find the information useful and would like to support our team in integrating further features, write great content, and in upgrading our soft- and hardware, please make a donation (PayPal or Online credit card payment).

Planned features:
  • Improved multilanguage support
  • Tsunami alerts
  • Faster responsiveness
Thanks to your past donations, these features have been added recently:
  • Design upgrade
  • Detailed quake stats
  • Additional seismic data sources
Download and Upgrade the Volcanoes & Earthquakes app to get one of the fastest seismic and volcano alerts online:
Android | IOS
Thank you!
Sources: VolcanoDiscovery / VolcanoAdventures and other sources as noted.
Use of material: Most text and images on our websites are owned by us. Re-use is generally not permitted without authorization. Contact us for licensing rights.
Volcanoes & Earthquakes
VolcanoDiscovery Home
Volcanoes | Earthquakes | Photos | Volcano News | App
Adventure & Study Travel
Tours to Volcanoes and Volcanic Areas: walking tours, photo tours, study tours
Tours & Dates | FAQ | About us
Get our newsletter!
Company info
Contact | Legal info | Terms & conditions
Follow us
Follow us on facebook Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Twitter Visit our Youtube channel
EN | DE | EL | ES | FR | IT | RU
VolcanoDiscovery GmbH, Germany, Reg. nr.: HRB 103744, EU Tax Id: DE 310 395 322 owned and created by
Dr. Tom Pfeiffer, volcanologist, volcano photographer, tour organizer member of
IAVCEI
Volcanological Society
Ecotourism Greece
Insured by R+V
VolcanoDiscovery © 2004- All Rights Reserved | Privacy - cookie settings