As Greece continues to be buffeted by a dire economic situation and the undemocratic politics of the European Union, it is very easy to consider Greek risk as being forced to remain in the EuroZone and facing rising violence on its streets, but these risks may be insignificant against another ancient risk that is rising from the sea.
Satellite measurement shows the expansion of the islands of Santorini, centered on the site of the ancient explosion that wiped out civilizations
Sitting in the Aegean Sea is one of a handful of major global seismic time bombs AND ITS ON THE MOVE.
The island of Thera/Santorini has been expanding. In geological terms it has been expanding quickly but it is so slow in human observation that the only indications are the jingling glasses in the tourist bars.
Seismic activity has probably been a continuous feature of the island for thousands of years but much of that activity has produced little visible activity. During the last five hundred years there have been larva flows as visible evidence and there have been earthquake shocks, but nothing on the scale of its impact on ancient history when it destroyed a civilization that is claimed to have been the fabled Atlantis.
Beneath Thera/Santorini is a magma chamber. When it fills, it exerts an upward pressure that causes the island to expand, rising further from the sea. If that expansion continues, it reaches an explosive point and the chamber explodes upward with enormous force.
What scientists are attempting to decide is how the current expansion will end. It may result in one or more volcanic eruptions, venting from the weakest points in the island structure. That, together with earthquake shocks, may result in loss of life in the immediate area, but have little effect on the Greek and Asian shores facing it.
The worst case scenario is that Thera will again explode, sending out tsunami of 100 metres in height. When that happened in ancient history, the Eastern Mediterranean was devastated. The tsunami reached the Northern coast of Egypt and inundated the Nile delta, forcing across the land and into the Red Sea. Some claim that the force was so extreme that it inundated a rich culture with advanced cities along the Western coast of India.
Today we do have a widely distributed civilization and the ability to both evacuate large numbers of people quickly and send in relief workers and supplies after the event, but these abilities are too slow to deal with a major volcanic or earthquake incident and politicians are naturally cautious about pre-emptive evacuation on a grand scale ahead of a major eruption. A salutary example is Haiti which is still attempting to reconstruct years after the original earthquake and world attention. Science has made huge advances and much of the current information comes from satellite measurement of the island, but the level of certainty is not strong enough to convince politicians.
Some scientists are predicting that a major incident could take place in a matter of months and that a major eruption is already overdue. They point to statistic analysis that claims to show an activity cycle for Thera and they also point to a series of major incidents around the world which appears to show that we are entering a period of increased seismic activity.
The great difficulty is that some events have moved with terrifying speed from the first symptoms, but other events have reached a point from which they have calmed down again.
A serious incident at a medium risk level would destroy most populated areas along the coasts of Greece and Turkey. Damage to Turkish cities and to the islands in the Eastern Mediterranean would be serious. There would be an effect on Mediterranean coasts around the Eastern Mediterranean and some effect to the coasts of Italy and North Africa, but these effects would be survivable and not severe.
As serious major incident, along the lines of the ancient eruption, would devastate the entire Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. The lost of life, and damage and destruction of property, would be on an epic scale. Any point that is less than 100 metres (340 ft) above sea level would suffer severe damage, and that includes most of the great Mediterranean cities.
The doubly lucky Greeks may be those who sent their money out of the EuroZone and then followed it.
BSD News Desk