Giant ‘balloon of magma’ inflates under Greece’s Santorini volcano

September 10, 2012 GREECEA new survey suggests that the chamber of molten rock beneath Santorini’s volcano expanded 10-20 million cubic meters – up to 15 times the size of London’s Olympic Stadium – between January 2011 and April 2012. The growth of this ‘balloon’ of magma has seen the surface of the island rise 8-14 centimetres during this period, a team led by Oxford University scientists has found. The results come from an expedition, funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, which used satellite radar images and Global Positioning System receivers (GPS) that can detect movements of the Earth’s surface of just a few millimetres. The findings are helping scientists to understand more about the inner workings of the volcano which had its last major explosive eruption 3,600 years ago, burying the islands of Santorini under metres of pumice. However, it still does not provide an answer to the biggest question of all: ‘when will the volcano next erupt?’ A report of the research appears in this week’s Nature Geoscience. In January 2011, a series of small earthquakes began beneath the islands of Santorini. Most were so small they could only be detected with sensitive seismometers but it was the first sign of activity beneath the volcano to be detected for 25 years. Dr. Juliet Biggs of Bristol University, also an author of the paper, said: ‘People were obviously aware that something was happening to the volcano, but it wasn’t until we saw the changes in the GPS, and the uplift on the radar images that we really knew that molten rock was being injected at such a shallow level beneath the volcano. Many volcanologists study the rocks produced by old eruptions to understand what happened in the past, so it’s exciting to use cutting-edge satellite technology to link that to what’s going on in the volcanic plumbing system right now.’ Professor David Pyle of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, an author of the paper, said: ‘For me, the challenge of this project is to understand how the information on how the volcano is behaving right now can be squared with what we thought we knew about the volcano, based on the studies of both recent and ancient eruptions. There are very few volcanoes where we have such detailed information about their past history.’ The team calculated that the amount of molten rock that has arrived beneath Santorini in the past year is the equivalent of about 10-20 years growth of the volcano. But this does not mean that an eruption is about to happen: in fact the rate of earthquake activity has dropped off in the past few months. –Physics
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19 Responses to Giant ‘balloon of magma’ inflates under Greece’s Santorini volcano

  1. Montana Jim says:

    I am sorry but I have to say it. If a giant water balloon hit the giant lava balloon what would happen? I see post like this often that there are fears a volcano will erupt. How often though do you see those fears come to pass? After all you have been at this much longer than me.

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  2. Irene C says:

    Someone refresh my memory. Is this the area where some people believe the island of Atlantis was? I remember reading or hearing something where a volcano blew an island apart. It was mentioned in one of Plato’s (I think) writings.

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    • Dave says:

      Yes some scientists and historians believe the Atlantis story as told by Plato was destroyed by the eruption here. Personally I believe Atlantis was located in the Azores, and there a quite a few other potential candidates for its location.

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  3. epsilon says:

    The 2012 will be so catastrophic and challenging for mankind (politically economically climatologically and militarily) that the historians of the future will make the reference before 2012 and after 2012.Is not the end, just the beginning of a greater struggle for to many. Why do you thing FIMA have millions and millions of multiple storage bodies already prepared. Why the creation of the international vault of seeds storage in Norway and some other suppose international projects around the World. Why the increase of police powers without any precedent for peace time. Why the changes of militarily structure in units of rapid capability and the creation of new weaponry without using deadly ammunition? Conspiracy theorist ?Nooooo I just have my eyes and ears working properly.

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  4. Scott says:

    Alvin,
    Love the work you are doing here. Have a quick question for you. My friend lives in Anchorage Alaska and he is telling me that they were hit with a storm that was packing up to 130mph gusts and it knocked out power and took down trees. Are storms like this common up there? I lived there for Three years but that was about 30 years ago and I just don’t remember anything like that.

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  5. Martin Tomek says:

    God’s time table will be kept very accurately regardless of human’s ignorance, especially in this generation. It is so common to make a mockery of God! Quo vadis domine?

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  6. Dennis E. says:

    It has been reported that magma is on the move and that something has gone wrong with the planet internally. We also receive reports that magma is building under yellowstone and the mammoth cave area in California and other places worldwide. When do/will these volcanoes erupt, hard to say. The experts don’t even really know. Some may never. No need to worry because what can you do? Nothing other than being mobile and prepared to live day to day and perhaps some, hand to mouth. So, perhaps seize the moment and make preparations.

    Consider this, lets say a super volcano erupts along with an 8.0-9.0 earthquake somewhere in the world, what do you expect will happen? A complete disintegration of society and civility. The same situation can occur with the downfall of economies/currencies. A terrible time and the police/law enforcement will not be able to help because they have families they want to be safe.

    just my opinion…………

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  7. Frank says:

    water hits oil, water hits lava, same result

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  8. nickk0 says:

    I’d like to hear what Alvin has to say as well.

    As for the scientists and geologists themselves, they may not know when the next eruption will occur, but they may have ‘estimates’ based upon ‘projections’.

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    • IMG

      This is a very dangerous region of the world that is highly prone to dangerous earthquakes; any of which, could be the next ignition switch that sets the volcano in motion. Supervolcanoes are extremely mercurial and unpredictable. As I have said, volcanoes are erupting but we haven’t had a powerful volcanic eruption in the world since the VEI 6 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 in the Philippines. So, the real volcanic horrors are yet to unfold. The fact that no supervolcano has yet erupted but there is ground inflation or deformation occurring at many of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes may suggest we might have multiple events occurring simultaneously; or erupting in cascading fashion. Therefore the wait, may be more dangerous than an eruption.

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  9. Texas Listening Post, Tony says:

    It seems that scientists project the impression that the events we see building up take a long time in humans lifetime scale. This might make people think it is not going to happen any time soon. The scientists might be correct about the time between events but are wrong on how fast the events happen. I think of a History Channel program about the Grand Canyon in the USA. I was taught in school the canyon was formed by millions of years of the Colorado River cutting the path. The program showed that there was an enormous body of water that was released and cut the canyon in a fairly short time. Today a thought occurred to me that this “long time when happening” perspective is a delusion by satan. This keeps people focused away from God.

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