A new study finds that a submerged volcano that shattered the picturesque Greek island of Santorini nearly 400 years ago has a growing, never-before-seen magma chamber that could fuel another massive eruption within the next 150 years.
The Kolumbo volcano is located approximately 4 miles (7 kilometers) from Santorini, 1,640 feet (500 meters) beneath the ocean’s surface. Kolumbo is one of the world’s most active submarine volcanoes, with the most recent eruption occurring in A.D.
Submerged Volcano In Critical Level
At least 70 people were killed in 1650. A study published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems on October 22, 2022, revealed that a previously undetected magma chamber growing beneath the Kolumbo volcano could lead to another eruption, putting residents and tourists on Santorini at risk.
Undersea volcanoes are monitored in the same way that on-land volcanoes are, but because undersea seismometers are difficult to install, there are fewer of them, so scientists have less data on undersea volcanoes. To address this issue, researchers decided to use a different technique to study the inner mechanics of Kolumbo.
Scientists have determined that the magma chamber beneath Kolumbo increases the likelihood of a future eruption, according to a study published in the American Geophysical Union’s Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems journal. They believe it will reach a tipping point within the next 150 years, posing a “serious threat.”
Kolumbo erupted last in 1650 C.E. The explosion during this eruption breached the sea surface, killing 70 people. After magma reservoirs beneath the volcano continued to grow and accumulate on a large scale, this eruption occurred.
Scientists believe that this previously unknown magma chamber has been expanding at a rate of approximately 4 million cubic meters per year since the submarine volcano last erupted. According to the study, the amount of melt in there is now 1.4 cubic kilometers.
Kolumbo Could Be The Same With Hunga Tonga Eruption
It is now approaching the volume that caused the 1650 eruption, implying that another large eruption is possible as its rate of growth outpaces its cooling and crystallization processes.
Although scientists cannot predict when the next Kolumbo eruption will occur, they are now calling for improved monitoring facilities near the volcano.
Full-waveform inversion technology, which records ground motions and analyzes wave velocities near volcanoes, was used to find the magma chamber. According to the study, magma chambers can be detected by the reduced velocity of seismic waves traveling beneath the seafloor.
According to Michele Paulatto, a volcanologist at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and the study’s second author, “Full-waveform inversion is similar to a medical ultrasound in that it uses sound waves to construct an image of the underground structure of a volcano.”
Kolumbo has the potential to erupt in a highly explosive eruption. Scientists compare it to the recent Hunga Tonga eruption, which erupted in January 2022 and caused tsunami waves up to 66 feet high.
Because the volcano is also located in a shallow area of the sea, 1,600 feet below the ocean’s surface, the explosion could be even more powerful.
Underwater volcanoes like this one have the potential to produce both destructive tsunami waves and ashfall.
Although an explosion does not appear to be imminent, the study’s findings indicate that the area requires increased monitoring.