Santorini: Volcano, Natural History, Mythology

By Walter L. Friedrich; Alexander R. McBirney | Go to book overview


Tourists who walk over the black lava fields of the Georgios volcano on Nea Kameni in the scorching summer heat have only the weak emissions of hot steam in the crater to remind them that the volcano is still alive, but it could return to life at any time. Earth scientists have already observed changes in the underground of Nea Kameni that might lead to a forthcoming eruption, but an eruption as violent as the Minoan will certainly not occur in the near future.

Jules Verne, in his famous science fiction book, 20 000 Leagues under the Sea, described how the submarine vessel Nautilus surfaced in the hot water around Santorini volcano. Captain Nemo, and his crew were astonished to see the spectacular 1866 eruption of Georgios volcano on Nea Kameni. Even today one can explore the inner part of the main volcano of Santorini very much in the same way as Captain Nemo did by sailing into the bay and admiring the multi-colored inner walls of the gigantic volcanic caldron where an extraordinary part of the earth’s history is revealed. It is not just earth scientists who are irresistibly drawn to this volcanic island; it holds an equal fascination for archeologists as well. Beneath the thick shroud of white pumice that mantles the rim and most of the outer slopes of the volcano lie the remains of an advanced culture– a bronze age Pompeii that, after more than 3600 years, is still being uncovered in the excavations at Akrotiri. This ‘Fantastic Island’ will enchant anyone who appreciates the natural world and the history of early civilizations. If it were up to me, I would reintroduce the name the island had in antiquity: Calliste–the most beautiful.

“You must write this book”, said the volcanologist Maurice Krafft in 1989 during his visit to Santorini, when I showed him and his wife Katja our latest discoveries and told them about my projected book. Sadly, they never saw the final result because they were both killed a short time later in an eruption of Unzen volcano.

Fourteen years have passed since the first German edition of ‘Feuer im Meer’ was published. In this interval, many discoveries have been made and a great number of publications about the island have appeared. When I realized that so much had changed, it became necessary for me to find a new title for the book-project.

In 1975, when I visited Santorini for the first time, the island looked different–at least in the tourist guide-books. At that time, one could read that prior to the Minoan eruption Santorini had a 1600 meter high mountain in its centre and that this catastrophic eruption took place around 1500 BC. But since then things have changed a lot. Today it is generally accepted that a water-filled caldera existed about 10 000 years before the Minoan eruption, and that the people who lived at that time have showed us in the ships fresco from the Akrotiri excavation what their island looked like: There were two harbors in the caldera and there were houses on the central island. The Bronze Age Santorini was similar to the one we see today. This new interpretation has also been supported by geological observations.

The date of the Minoan eruption has also changed: we now have the most direct and precise radiocarbon dates, that were based on the lucky find of two olive trees, which were buried alive, in upright position, by the eruption. The dates show us that the Minoan eruption occurred about 100 years earlier than people thought three decades ago.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Santorini: Volcano, Natural History, Mythology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • I - The Geological Framework 5
  • 1 - The Geography of Santorini 7
  • 2 - Santorini and Plate Tectonics 23
  • 3 - The Geological Development of Santorini 33
  • 4 - Stratigraphy–The Backbone of Geology 51
  • 5 - Plant Remains and Geological Time 61
  • II - The Minoan Eruption 77
  • 6 - The Mechanism of the Minoan Eruption 79
  • 7 - When Did the Catastrophe Occur? 99
  • III - The Volcano Releases Its Secret 123
  • 8 - A Bronze Age Pompeii 125
  • 9 - What Was Living on the Island during the Bronze Age? 137
  • 10 - An Idea Takes Hold 151
  • 11 - Geological Observations and Mythology 187
  • IV - The Island Is Changing Its Appearance 203
  • 12 - The Caldera Is Filling Again 205
  • 13 - Volcanism Today 229
  • 14 - Present and Future Changes of the Island 247
  • V - Appendices 261
  • List of Illustrations 276
  • Fossils from Santorini 278
  • The Modern Flora of Santorini 282
  • Excavations at Balos in 1870 by - Gorceix and Mamet 288
  • VI - References and Indices 291
  • References 292
  • Name Index 307
  • Subject Index 309


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 312

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.