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Summary of Proposal GEO1228

TitleUrgency Acquisitions for Santorini Volcano, Greece
Investigator Biggs, Juliet - University of Bristol, Department of Earth Sciences
Team Member
Dr. Mather, Tamsin - University of Oxford, Earth Sciences
SummarySantorini is a majorvolcano in the Aegean sea (Greece), which is best known for a major eruption(the Minoan eruption) that occurred about 3,600 years ago, and has beenimplicated in major environmental and political impacts across the easternMediterranean. Since that eruption, which formed a large caldera, now floodedby the sea, volcanic activity at Santorini has been restricted to a smallregion in the middle of the caldera. Over the past 500 years, six moderateeruptions have taken place, forming the young islands of Nea and Palea Kameni.These eruptions have usually happened with little warning - a few very smallearthquakes; some movements of the islands (up and down), and some changes inthe seawater around the many hotsprings in the area. Each of these eruptionshas involved the slow squeezing out of lava, with a few more dramaticexplosions and the ejection of blocks of lava, ash and noxious gases. The last,and smallest, of these eruptions took place in 1950. Since 1950, Santorini hasbeen quiescent - with very few earthqaukes, and very little gas emission.Recently, during fieldwork, we measured a large increase in gas emission ratesfrom near the youngest volcanic vent. We have also now seen some rapidmovements of the main island of Santorini (measured by GPS), and of New Kameni(measure using Envisat): these show that the islands are being lifted up by afew centimetres per month. There has also been a major swarm of very smallearthquakes, some of which have been large enough to be felt by the residentsof the islands. We think that all of this evidence shows that Santorini hasbegun a significant phase of 'unrest'. The pattern of unrest that we have seenis similar to the signals reported that happen before some of the historicaleruptions, and we propose an intensive field campaign to measure the grounddeformation and gas emissions, associated with the inflation of this majorcaldera volcano. Because there have been very few opportunities for scientiststo monitor the behaviour of caldera volcanoes during periods of unrest, we reallydon't yet know how to distinguish between background activity, and activitywhich might happen before an eruption, at least until just a very short timebefore an eruption happens. For this reason, we wish to use this rareopportunity to measure the changes with a shallow disturbance at a quiescentbut dangerous volcano. The proposed TerraSAR-X will comprise an importantstrand of a multidisciplinary monitoring effort.

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