|Photo : Klearchos Kapoutsis
|The Kameni Islands
The island known as Palia Kameni
'Old Burnt' was the first to be formed after the Minoan eruption.
Written sources indicate that activity started on Palia Kameni
around 197 BC, while there is evidence that it was considerably
larger in the past. This is shown most clearly by the steep
cliffside on its northwestern side. The break up of Palia
Kameni seems to have occurred between 1457 and 1458. From
1570 until about 1573 a new island was formed in the sea approximately
four kilometers northeast of Palia Kameni. Having risen with
'fire in the sea', it was given the name Mikra Kameni - small
|Palia Kameni : The Eruption of 46-47 AD
Towards the end of the year 46
AD and the beginning of the year 47 AD the volcano reawakened.
Huge quantities of molten rock (magma) spouted out of the
sea two kilometers southwest of Lera, creating the islet of
Palia Kameni. At that time the island had a circumference
of 5,550 meters, as the Roman historian Aurelius Victor registers
in his work Historia Romana. It gradually acquired its present
shape through fragmentation by great cracks and faults and
the collapse of its shoreline in many places.
|Palia Kameni : The Eruption of
During the next seven centuries
the volcano remained dormant. It became active again in the
year 726, this time extremely violently. Numerous explosive
events spewed pumice and volcanic ash several kilometers into
the air, sending it drifting across the Aegean and into Asia
Minor. This eruption seriously disrupted the economic and
social life of the Aegean, and was interpreted as an indication
of the wrath of God caused by the Iconoclastic Controversy
which was then lacerating the Byzantine Empire. Great quantities
of volcanic tephra spewed out in this eruption can still be
seen on Palea Kameni. The viscous magma which later filled
the crater now appears as a black tongue of lava with a rough
scoriaceous surface on the northeastern shore of Palea Kameni,
forming the north side of the bay of Agios Nikolaos.
The eruption of Nea Kameni in the
years 1866 to 1870 presented a spectacular display that was
seen by numerous spectators. The fireworks were especially
grandiose during the night. (From Illustretet Tindende 1866,
|The Appearance of Nea Kameni :
|The eruptions of 1701 to 1711 inside
the caldera were of great geological interest, because it was
one of the rare cases in which a volcano was observed to emerge
for the sea. During the eruptions of 1707-1711 Skaros Castle
was still inhabited. From there one could observe the growth
of the new island. On the 21st May in 1711, three days after
a strong earthquake, a white island was seen rising to the west
of Mikra Kameni. It continued to grow, and after a few days
inhabitants of Santorini went and discovered black lava, pumice
and marine life that was still living on it. The island grew
slowly, reaching a width of 500 to 600 meters and a height of
70 to eighty meters. On the 5th of June fire was seen and a
new black island appeared to the north. By September 12th the
black island was so large that it united with the white one.
By the time that activity ceased in September 1711, Santorini
and Mikra Kameni sank by as much as a meter or more. The new
island, Nea Kameni measured 910 meters long in the south, 1650
in the west and 1440 meters to the east. It had reached a height
of 106 meters.
|Mikra and Nea Kameni Unite : 1866-1870
The eruptions of 1866 to 1870 created
the Georgios volcano and caused the smaller Mikra Kameni to
joined be to the larger Nea Kameni.
|Kolumbo Submarine Volcano
|The Kolumbo Submarine Volcano rose from the sea
during its period of activity between the years 1649-1650.
Kolumbo is now totally submerged. The Kolumbo volcano is situated
7 kilometers of the northeastern coast of Santorini. The cone
measures 4 by 8 kilometers with its long access oriented parallel
to a north east trending tectonic structure known as the 'Kolumbo
line'. The highest point of the crater lies 18 meters
below sea level. A caldera is formed in the central part that
reaches a depth of 512 meters below sea level.
|Theophanis the Chronicler recorded about the Eruption of 726 AD :
|"In the summer of that same
year of the eighth "Indiction', steam as from a fiery
furnace bubbled up from the depths of the sea between the
islands of Thira and Thirassia for several days, and in a
short while, after it had increased and hardened by the furious
heat of the blazing fire, the smoke began itself to seem like
fire, and on account of the thickness of this solid matter,
large pumice stones were spewed out all over Asia Minor and
Lesvos and Abydos and towards those parts of Macedonia which
overlook the sea".
|Observations about Eruptions
in the Caldera by Jesuit Father Goree : 1712
|"At this time the White island
which seemed to be higher than the Lesser Kameneni (Mikra
Kameni) and could be seen from the first floor of the houses
in the castle of Skaros, had now sunk so low, that it could
not be far from the second floor".
|A New Island called Nea Kameni
appears in 1707
The Jesuit Priest Father Goree
eyewiitnesses the eruptions of 1707-1711 from Skaros Castle.
"And it is between this little Island of the Great
Kammeni, that on the 23rd May in the Year 1707, at the break
of Day, the New Island, of which I am now going to speak,
was first discovered".
"Howsoever it was, some Seamen discovered this Island
early in the Morning; but not being able to distinguish
what it was, they imaged it to be some Vessel that had suffered
Shipwreck, and was driven thither by the Sea. As soon as
they found that it was a New Island, they grew afraid, and
returning as hastily back again, spread the report over
the whole Island; which was the more readily credited, because
all the Inhabitants knew, and several of them had themselves
seen what happened in the Year 1650".