Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Volcano behind Atlantis legend re-awakens

One of the largest volcanic eruptions in the past 10,000 years occurred around 1620 BC on the island of Santorini, seen here in a satellite image. The event may have inspired the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis. (NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team)

The volcano that may have given rise to the legend of Atlantis has awakened, researchers say.

The cataclysmic eruptions at the Greek isle of Santorini about 3,600 years ago that spewed forth about 9.5 to 14.3 cubic miles (40 to 60 cubic kilometers) of lava devastated the ancient seafaring Minoan civilization, potentially inspiring the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. From the air, the resulting caldera, or volcanic crater, appears as a small cluster within the larger collection of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

Over the next four millennia, the largely underwater caldera at Santorini has experienced a series of smaller eruptions, with five such outbursts in the past 600 years, ending most recently in 1950. After a 60-year lull, Santorini awakened in January 2011 with a swarm of tremors, each magnitude 3.2 or less, new GPS research has revealed.

Magma on the move

Investigators had installed a GPS monitoring system in the area in 2006. These sensors keep track of their location in space, and can thus shed light on when the Earth is moving. Read More