Something may be wrong on the sea floor, and researchers are on high alert. Yes, because based on a recent discovery, columboan undersea volcano in the Aegean about eight kilometers from Santorini is poised for a massive eruption that could have dramatic consequences.
The scientific community is currently on alert and keeps the volcano under control, tries to monitor every movement and, above all, observes the development of a magma chamber that has never been discovered before.
Kolumbo, the underwater volcano of the Aegean Sea
But what is the history of this underwater volcano and why are scientists so concerned? It’s easy to say: 1649, one series of shocks began to shake the shores of Santorini. These tremors gradually grew stronger until they turned into a multitude of explosive eruptions from the seawhich not only changed the coast of the island, but also caused the deaths of several dozen residents.
The explosive eruptions were the descendants of Columbo, whose cone had reached the sea’s surface. In this state, several pyroclastic flows reached the shores of Santorini. In addition, the eruptions caused a collapse of the layers that were above the magma chamber from which they came, causing a tsunami whose destructive power could damage locations even 150 kilometers away.
The undersea volcano today
Based on what happened, it goes without saying that scientists are not a little alarmed. The main cause of the alarm is the detection of a New magma chamber (which to the uninitiated is the area inside the volcano where the layers of magma are stationed before erupting) which appears to be visibly growing. This is supported by a group of scientists and experts from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Imperial College London and University of Athens.
Based on the studies carried out and thanks to the state-of-the-art instruments they used, the researchers were able to visualize the magma chamber extending for 2 to 4 kilometers and coinciding with the endpoint of some (currently irrelevant ones). recent earthquake swarms. The chamber makes Kolumbo seriously dangerous as it could produce onehighly explosive tsunamigenic eruption in the nearest future.
The possible eruption of Columbus
To understand the danger of Columbo, the researchers used a method called “complete waveform inversion‘, which uses artificially generated seismic waves to create a high-resolution image capable of showing everything that lies deep inside the volcano. But even with this data, the scientists cannot determine when Columbus will erupt: it could happen in a period of 1 to 150 years.
What is certain is that the series of recent eruptions can be all the more devastating as time passes. The real risk is that Santorini will again be dramatically damaged, but not even the most distant shores are safe: after the blast indeed resulting tsunami it could (as has already happened) overwhelm areas miles away. Now the international team is working on creating a seabed observatory called Santorini’s Seafloor Volcanic Observatory. Once the observatory is operational, scientists and risk experts will be better equipped to monitor possible eruptions.