New evidence on what caused tsunamis after massive Santorini volcanic eruption in the Bronze Age
New evidence discovered by Greek scientists concerning the cataclysmic volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini 3,600 years ago suggests a new narrative for the disaster that crippled the Bronze Age civilisations that had thrived in the prehistoric Aegean for more than 2,000 years.
|A new theory says 'pyroclastic flows' caused the devastating Bronze Age tsunamis that smashed into Minoan Crete.|
Pictured here is part of a fresco from Akrotiri showing drowned sailors [Credit: WikiCommons]
Geologist-Oceanographer Dr. Paraskevi Nomikou and her colleagues from Athens University's Geology and Geo-Environment Department have now suggested an entirely different time line for these tsunamis, based on new seismic and ocean floor data, combined with modelling. According to their theory, published in Nature Communications, the tsunamis were the result of 'pyroclastic flow' - the hot ash, rock and lava that was spewed into the ocean before the crater's collapse.
|Satellite image of Santorini caldera. The large island to the east is Thera, with Aspronisi and Therasia |
making up the rest of the caldera ring, clockwise. In the centre is the larger Nea Kameni
and the smaller Palea Kameni [Credit: NASA]
|Santorini in 3D [Credit: NASA]|
"Something like this, however, did not cause a tsunami. This was caused because, during the third and fourth phase of the eruption, huge quantities of volcanic ash were blown up into the air, and pyroclastic flows then entered the sea. These were what caused the tsunami that affected northern Crete and all the eastern Mediterranean," she said.
|Minoan Town Fresco, Akrotiri, Santorini [Credit: WikiCommons]|
In support of this theory, researchers have found deposits of pyroclastic material up to 60 metres thick on the seabed around the shores of Santorini, in quantities sufficient to cause a tsunami-like wave. This also agrees with later studies on the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which identified pyroclastic flows as the culprit for the tsunami generated at that time.
|Archaeological site of Akrotiri, Santorini [Credit: WikiCommons]|
Working with Nomikou on the Greek study were Dr. Dimitris Papanikolaou and Danae Lambridou, along with other scientists from France, Britain, Germany, the United States and Iceland.
Source: ANA-MPA [November 08, 2016]