Santorini Volcanic Eruptions

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1.Introduction:

Historical accounts of what is now known as the volcanic eruptions on the Greek island of Santorini, previously known as Thera, suggest that the estimated 1600 BC eruptions may be one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in human history.1 Conflicting beliefs of the timing of the event have been made. The debate of the traditional 1500 BC, and the earlier date emanate from the finding of an olive branch buried beneath lava, which radiocarbon dating has estimates is from 1627-1600 BC.2 The event produced widespread effects on local, regional and world civilizations, while also affecting several ecosystems, and human health.

1.1

Thera/Santorini’s Location

Santorini’s location is dangerously placed in a particularly volcanic area on the Aegean plate, the south Aegean volcanic arc (Fig. 1).3 The region’s islands formed as a result of interaction between the Aegean plate and the African plate.3 Santorini is located in the middle of the Aegean sea, surrounded by several major Mediterranean

civilizations existing in mainland Greece, northern Africa and Asia minor. The island
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The local population of Thera was displaced and endangered.11 The city of Akrotiri was buried in ash from the eruption, however no human remains have been found there evidencing that residents were able to evacuate.11 After effects of the eruption have been partially attributed to the decline of the Minoan empire.11 There is evidence that effects of the eruption were felt in far reaching places. Examples include ash residue potentially causing the inability to grow crops and subsequent famine in China.12 Anomalies in tree ring growth, as well as aforementioned Chinese crops have evidenced an environmental impact from the eruptions.12,13 Toxic gas flows, as well as the spread of ash and displacement of people have been used as evidence of potential health related impacts of the

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