Molten rock is pooling beneath Greece’s Santorini volcano, the site of one of the largest eruptions in the past 10,000 years. That eruption, which took place about 3,600 years ago, wiped out the Minoan civilization of the Greek islands and may have spawned the legend of the lost city of Atlantis.
In the past 1.5 years, the magma chamber beneath the volcanic island has ballooned by as much as 350 million cubic feet (20 million cubic meters), or up to 15 times the size of London’s Olympic Stadium. This giant mass of magma has caused the island to rise by as much as 5.5 inches (14 centimeters), according to a new study published yesterday (Sept. 9) in the journal Nature Geoscience.
This research follows reports earlier in the year of renewed earthquake activity beneath the volcano after it had been silent for the past 25 years. The reports have spurred concerns the volcano could erupt in the near future, but when that might happen is still unclear, researchers said in a statement.
“Before this work, we didn’t really know how the volcano behaved during the periods of time between eruptions,” David Pyle, an Oxford University researcher and study co-author, told OurAmazingPlanet. “Now, it looks as though the magma chambers beneath volcanoes like Santorini grow in spurts.”