Scientists probe the most famous volcanic eruption

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Posted by on 17 May 2006

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Some new data has been discovered about the explosion on Santorini, in the 17th century, which had resulted in a tsunami, which is said to have wiped out the Minoan civilization. The tsunami is believed to have had waves as high as 30 meters, and was set into motion by the explosion of a volcano on Thera, or Santorini as it is known today. Dated to sometime in the 17th century, the volcano also spread high speed, red hot gases into the sea.

The tsunami lashed onto the shores of Crete within 30 minutes of the explosion, though geology scholars believe that no matter how powerful the tsunami may have been, it could not have possibly wiped out the entire Minoan civilization, though the consequences must have been severe.

The new facts have been brought forth last month, by a research group, led by Director of Research at Athens Geodynamic Institute, Gerasimos Papadopoulos, during the European Geosciences Union, held in Vienna.

The research group has been studying the geophysical mechanism related to the cause of the tsunami, and has recorded the tsunami's characteristics, such as how much time it took for the waves to hit various shores of the islands in the southern Aegean, the height of the waves and the impact these waves had on the Minoan civilization.

"Due to the lack of any historical documents from the prehistoric times, which is when the tsunami was believed to have occurred, we have not been able to draw any information about it", said Papadopoulos. He further revealed that the conclusions drawn are based on field research and comparisons to similar eruptions in history, such as the huge eruption of Krakatoa volcano in the channel between the islands of Java and Sumatra, on August 27th, 1883. This eruption also resulted in a powerful tsunami which destroyed the shores of Java and killed nearly 36,000 people.

"Chronologies indicate that the massive eruption of Santorini's volcano occurred sometime during the 17th century BC, and can be zeroed in to around 1630 BC", says Papadopoulos.

The last 20 years, this view has been prevalent and the theory that the eruption occurred sometime between 1400 and 1450 BC, has been largely dismissed by the scientific community, remarked Papadopoulos. "But the question of the eruption

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