The origin of the Santorini caldera - Santorini Yachting Club
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The origin of the Santorini caldera

The origin of the Santorini caldera
20 Nov 2022

Santorini caldera

The crescent-shape Santorini caldera is inarguably the most impressive gem of the Aegean Sea which has adorned millions of postcards. In this post, we will reveal you how this emblematic Greek sight was created.

When you think of Santorini, you probably conjure up images of sun-bleached, white-washed houses, azure-domed churches, narrow winding alleyways and glorious sunset views. These all make up the signature beauty of this stunning Mediterranean island. However, chances are that you do not know that it took centuries or even millennia for Santorini to evolve into its current shape. Nor are you probably aware of where the caldera is situated exactly and how it was formed. To get a better understanding of the morphology of this popular Greek holiday destination, we need to tell you a bit more about its fascinating history. 

It may come to you as a surprise that the name Santorini actually refers to a group of islands that consist of Thera (the main island, also called Santorini), Aspronisi, Therasia, Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. The volcanic archipelago was named after the small Orthodox chapel of Agia Irini (or Saint Irene) by Venetian occupants somewhere around the 15th century. But let’s not run so forward in time! Or, actually, better if we jump back to the very beginning.

The first civilization that lived in Santorini - and in the surrounding Cycladic region - was the Minoan people around 4000 BC. However, the prosperous dynasty came to an abrupt end when the devastating 1620 BC volcanic eruption shook the entire region in its core. The eruption was rated 7, which is the highest score for a historical eruption. It was possibly one of the biggest volcanic eruptions on Earth, so massive that it completely wiped out the residents of Santorini, just like what happened at the famous Pompeii. The outer edge of the volcano must have collapsed into the sea, which gave birth to the mean island, Thira. While the neighbouring islets were formed as a result of multiple, initially submarine, smaller eruptions at the center of the caldera. 

Calderas are some of the most fascinating features on our planet, and the Santorini caldera is no exception. The large submarine volcanic crater and the archipelago can be even seen on satellite images from space. The present-day Santorini caldera is composed of overlapping shield volcanos, cut by at least four partially overlapping calderas, of which the oldest one must have been formed 180,00 years ago. The last natural disaster, a devastating earthquake occurred in Santorini in 1956. The volcano is now classified as dormant so you have nothing to worry about if you plan to visit the mythical Greek island. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat trip and walk around the volcano’s rim as part of a guided tour. As you can see Santorini is a true miracle and a unique destination that offers much more than splendid beaches and glamorous nightlife. The Santorini caldera is a one-of-a-kind attraction that you will not see in any other corner of the world.

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