The underwater volcano Colombo, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, lies at a depth of 500 meters about seven kilometers outside of Santorini.
The fact that the volcano is located in a relatively shallow part of the Mediterranean Sea may increase the chances of a potential eruption in the future, with a subsequent tsunami and a cloud of gas and ash that can extend tens of kilometers into the air, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) writes in a press release.
The last time the volcano erupted, in 1650, 70 people lost their lives on Santorini.
Scientists now believe that a recently discovered magma chamber beneath the volcano increases the risk of another eruption. This was revealed in a recent study published in Geochemistry, geophysics and geological systems at the Arabian Gulf University.
They should be monitored better
Using a new method, scientists were able to get a clearer picture of the underwater volcano. They believe the newly discovered magma chamber has grown at a rate of four million cubic meters per year since the previous eruption, explains lead author of the study Kajetan Chrapkiewicz, a geophysicist at Imperial College London.
Researchers believe the chamber may now have a volume of 1.4 cubic kilometres.
If the chamber continues to grow at the same rate, researchers believe the amount of magma will reach levels like 1,650 sometime in the next 150 years.
They claim that the volcano, and other volcanoes of this type, should be monitored by several monitoring stations, in order to get a better estimate of when the next eruption will occur.
We need better data for what’s really under these volcanoes. Continuous monitoring systems will make it possible to better estimate the time of an outbreak. With these systems, we will likely be able to know about an outbreak a few days before it happens, and people can be evacuated to a safe location, researcher Chrapkiewicz says in the news release.
Although magma levels are monitored, it is not possible to say anything with absolute certainty about when the next Colombo eruption will occur, the research journal writes.
It can be very devastating
A possible future eruption from Colombo will likely be more destructive than the volcanic eruption in Tonga in January 2022, due to the submarine volcano’s proximity to densely populated areas on Santorini, according to the AGU.
The eruption of the Hengga Tonga-Hung Haapai volcano in Tonga threw ash and mud up to 40 kilometers into the atmosphere and also caused a large tsunami.
The volcano is located on an island about 65 kilometers north of Nukuʻalofa, the capital of Tonga. The outbreak poisoned drinking water, destroyed crops and left two villages in ruins, the NTB previously wrote.
A New Zealand research team from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) concluded in November that the eruption was the largest on record. According to them, the sea floor has been displaced by the equivalent of 2.6 million swimming pools — an increase of one-third from the original estimate, according to the NTB.
The research team also established that the volcano is still erupting.
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