Timeline of Santorini’s major volcanic events

1630 BC: On Thera, a brilliant civilization mirroring Minoan Crete flourishes. This year saw the latest of several major eruptions from the volcano. The devastating Bronze Age eruption is now considered one of the biggest volcanic eruptions on Earth in the last several thousand years. Because the closest civilization to Thera at the time was Minoan Crete, this eruption is often called the «Minoan eruption.» Before the eruption, the caldera formed a nearly continuous ring with the only entrance between the tiny island of Aspronisi and Thera. The caldera had been formed several hundred thousand years ago by the collapse of the center of an island caused by a previous eruption. The eruption destroyed sections of the ring between Aspronisi and Therasia, and between Therasia and Thera, creating two new channels. A series of earthquakes probably warned residents that the situation was dire and they likely packed up and left, since no bodies have been found on the Akrotiri site on Santorini. The volume of matter ejected from the volcano is thought to have been up to four times what was blown into the stratosphere by Krakatau in 1883. Life was likely extinguished by the ashfall, leaving an island as deathly sterile as Krakatau was. The eruption also generated a 35- to 150-meter-high tsunami that devastated the north coast of Crete some 70 miles away. The tsunami also hit coastal towns such as Amnisos and likely badly damaged the Minoan fleet along Crete’s northern shore. Ash and pumice have been found on Anafi and elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The date of the Minoan eruption on Santorini is still being disputed, but it happened sometime between 1630 and 1600 BC. Some scientists rely on radiocarbon dating while others point to archaeological chronologies. Greenland’s ice cores indicate a large eruption dating to 1644 BC, give or take 20 years, and scientists think that eruption might be Santorini’s volcano. Also, tree ring data in America show that a major event interfered with tree growth there sometime between 1629 and 1628 BC. 1600-197 BC: Periodic bursts of a plethora of lava create a large underwater volcanic mountain, the peaks of which are the Kamenes islands (Mikri Kameni and Nea Kameni). 197 BC: The formation of the post-Minoan Kameni islands. Strabo, an ancient writer, first mentions volcanic eruptions inside the caldera and describes the emergence of a new small island in 197 BC. Eight eruptive phases follow, eventually making the two islands of Palaia Kameni and Mikri Kameni into one island (Nea Kameni), but until 1950, none of them causes any major problems to local residents. 1950: The most recent eruption at Nea Kameni was recorded in January of that year. Since then, the volcanic bases of Santorini have remained calm. The only proof that molten rock emerges from the underwater volcano is the warm waters that pool in various points on the beach and the hot air steaming out of the peaks of Nea Kameni. Volcanologists and other scientists have predicted, through years of study, the volcano will likely continue to behave in the future as it has done in the past.