New Burnt

Santorini has been shaped by violent natural events and nowhere is this more clear than at its volcanic heart.

First on our floaty boaty day trip is a stop off on the Island of Nea Kameni (New Burnt) where there still bristles an active volcano at its very peak.

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New Burnt and its nearby neighbour Old Burnt have formed over the past two millennia by repeated eruptions of dacite lava and ash.

Its most catastrophic eruption happened in around 1650 BC and that is recorded as one of the  largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history.

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Here’s the queue for the entrance to the island (just a tiny little ticket desk!) and it costs two Euros to enter.

Nea Kameni has a  diameter of approximately 2 kilometers and is monitored closely by scientists from the Institute for the Study and Monitoring of the Santorini Volcano.

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We make our way up to the summit of the 130-meter-high volcanic crater, all very rocky and dusty! Not the most thrilling of scenery if I am totally honest but the man is very excited by it all! Here he is observing one of the huge craters.

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Expecting great things as we near the active area of the volcano. Lava, glowing red, drama, heat . . . .  nope a small hole that occasionally wifts a tiny puff of smoke out and is a bit green from sulphur deposits. . . . humpf.

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At least there’s a nice view out across to sea and Oia beyond and umbrellas provide some welcome shade.

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Nea Kameni is the eastern Mediterannean’s youngest volcanic landform, and today it is a protected natural monument and national geological park. It’s possibly the newest piece of the earth’s surface that I have ever walked on!!

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It’s erupted approximately eight times in the past 1,900 years and has been dormant since 1950 when it last erupted.

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However previous eruptions caused a great deal of damage  and shaped the volcanic landscape you can see today.

Late in August 1940, two major explosions from the summit of the island blew a rock plug from 1866 into the air, opening two large craters each 50 meters across. These are the craters which can been seen today.

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Geological evidence shows that this sleeping giant of a volcano erupted numerous times over several hundred thousand years before the cataclysmic Minoan eruption in around 1650 BC that wiped out a civilization.

The Minoan eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. It destroyed most of the island of Thira, along with communities and agricultural areas on nearby islands and on the coast of Crete, contributing to the collapse of the Minoan culture.

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Even though the giant slumbers I was still quite relieved to leave and get back on board. Next stop the island of Old Burnt and its hot springs!

Volcano visiting

Following on from our whistlestop tour of the smaller villages we decide to take a boat trip to visit the volcano that formed the Santorini that we see today.

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So we hop on a traditional boat (along with hundreds of other eager beavers) ready to set sail from the harbour and onto see the two volcanic islands of Old Burnt and New Burnt.

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Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera.

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A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 7.5 by 4.3 miles is surrounded by 300 metre high, steep cliffs on three sides.

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On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia.

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The trip takes in the island of Nea Kameni,(New Burnt) with its active volcano followed by a stop at the island of Palea Kameni (Old Burnt) with its hot springs.

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First up we explore the wild landscape of New Burnt with its various volcanic rocks and craters, where smoke still billows out with strong smell of sulfur. Eyes peeled for pictures of rocks . . .