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The volcanic caldera on the picturesque tourist island of Santorini is showing signs of unrest.
But researchers detecting the caldera’s movement say it doesn’t necessarily mean an eruption is imminent. As says Georgia Tech associate professor Andrew Newman, who set up more than 20 GPS stations on the island in 2006, after decades of little activity, a series of earthquakes and deformation began within the Santorini caldera in January of 2011. Since then, the instruments on the northern part of the island have moved laterally between five and nine centimeters. The volcano’s magma chamber is filling. The changes may not indicate an imminent eruption, other similar calderas around the globe have shown similar activity without erupting. However, Newman says the chamber has expanded by 14 million cubic meters since last January, so this meaning that enough magma has been pumped into the chamber to fill a sphere three football fields across. According to Newman any eruption could be worse than anything the island has seen in the last 450 years. That could be dangerous.If the caldera erupts underwater, it could cause local tsunamis and affect boat traffic, including cruise ships, in the caldera. Earthquakes could damage homes and produce landslides along the cliffs. Santorini is the site of one of the largest volcanic events in human history: the Minoan eruption, which occurred around 1650 BC. This buried the major port city of Akrotiri under more than 20 meters of ash, and created the island’s famous, present-day cliffs. There’s no telling how long the deformation will continue.
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