Discover the Top 10 Volcanoes in Greece (3 Are Still Active)
With its countless beaches, idyllic islands, iconic blue domes, and magical sunsets, Greece is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Perhaps, its other most striking feature is the volcanoes that sit within this picturesque landscape. Greece has a large volcanic arc that has seen a lot of eruptive activity in the past. The volcanoes in the Hellenic arc and the Aegean arc of Greece are a result of the subduction or sinking of the African lithosphere (Oceania) under the Eurasiatic plate. The fiery eruptions of this chain of volcanoes have helped shape some of the impressive and quirky landscapes we come across in many regions of the country today.
Although volcanoes in Greece have a history of over a million years, most volcanoes in the region are extinct now. Santorini, Nisyros, and Methana on the island of Milos are the only active volcanoes currently. Apart from these, the island of Kolumbo has an active submarine volcano. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best-known active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes in Greece. This glimpse into the history of these epic volcanoes is sure to be immensely fascinating!
1. Volcano of Santorini (Active)
The Santorini volcano in Greece is probably one of the best-known volcanoes in Europe. The ‘caldera’ or crater of Santorini is the largest in the world and is the result of more than two million years of explosive volcanic activity.
Santorini’s caldera measures about 10 kilometers in diameter and its circular shape is almost fully filled with water. The volcano last erupted in the year 1950 from a small vent in the island of Nea Kameni, also called the ‘new burnt island’. It is one of the active volcanoes of the South Aegean Volcanic Arc and its most explosive eruption, known as the ‘Minoan eruption’ occurred about 3,600 years ago. This eruption blew the Aegean island of Santorini apart and spewed pumice and ash across millions of square kilometers. While there is no telling when the next eruption will occur, the Santorini volcano continues to draw thousands of visitors to its ominous volcanic landscapes every year.
2. Volcano of Methana (Active)
Methana is a small volcanic region located in the Saronic Gulf, about 60 km southeast of Athens. The island has a long history of intense volcanic activity. The first eruption recorded in this region was between 276 and 239 BC. The volcanic region is still active and has more than 30 volcanic craters. The largest of these craters is located near the present-day village of Kameni Chora. This crater measures 150 feet deep and has a diameter of more than 300 feet approximately.
3. Volcano of Nisyros (Active)
The volcano of Nisyros, together with the volcanoes of Kos is a part of the Hellenic arc. It is an active volcano and also the youngest of the large volcanic centers in Greece. The region has a history of four eruptions. The first eruption in Nisyros is suspected to have occurred in 1422 and the most recent eruption occurred in 1888.
During one of its historical eruptions that occurred about twenty-four thousand years ago, a huge caldera was formed. This caldera occupies the center of the island of Nisyros and is host to the largest hydrothermal crater in the world called ‘Stefanos’. The crater has several hot springs, boiling mud pools, and gas vents. The Nisyros volcanic region has 5 explosion craters in total.
4. Volcano of Milos
Milos is located on the southwestern side of the Aegean Sea. The island is shaped like a horseshoe and resembles the Santorini Caldera. A succession of volcanic eruptions from different craters has helped shape the island of Milos. Volcanic activity in the region began about 2 to 3 million years ago and the last eruption in the region dates back to 90,000 years. All that remains now are two inactive craters on the surface of the island.
5. Volcano of Aegina
Aegina is a volcanic island that is located a few hundred kilometers to northwest of Santorini in the Saronic Gulf in Greece. It is a part of the Saronic Gulf Volcanic Group. The island features small rounded hills. Many of these hills are low volcanic shields or small ‘monogenetic’ volcanoes. While these volcanoes are much less dramatic in comparison to the Santorini volcanoes, the current landscape of the island has in large part been shaped by the volcanic activity in the region.
The last volcanic activity in this region occurred between 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, during the Pliocene. The volcano produced acid lava flows of andesite and dacite.
6. Volcano of Kos
The island of Kos, although predominantly non-volcanic now, has historical records of eruptions that date back to the Pleistocene era. It was the site of one of the largest eruptions around 160,000 years ago. This eruption is probably one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events to have occurred in the southeastern Mediterranean in the last two hundred thousand years.
The ferocious volcano which is thought to be even more massive than the volcano of Santorini has died down since. It resulted in the formation of a large caldera that blankets much of the western half of Kos. The only manifestations of volcanic activity in the region now are two hot springs along the southern coast as well as sulfur deposits and weak hydrogen sulfide emissions.
7. Volcano of Gyali
Wedged between the islands of Kos and Nisyros, the island of Gyali is a small volcanic island spanning an area of 4.6 square kilometers. The island was formed by a volcanic eruption that took place in the neighboring island of Nysiros about 200,000 years ago. It only has about 20 people living on it permanently now.
While the region itself has no history of eruptions, it lies within the inferred location of the submarine caldera that is widely associated with the eruption of the Kos Plateau Tuff (KPT). The soil on this island is abundant in rhyolitic obsidian lava and pumice deposits, making it a prime mining hub.
8. Volcano of Kolumbo (Active)
Submerged under the Aegean Sea in Greece, the volcano of Kolumbo is an active submarine volcano. It belongs to the same Volcanic Arc as Santorini and can be located five miles northeast of Santorini island. The most recent eruption in Kolumbo occurred in 1650. The eruption triggered a tsunami and killed dozens of residents and hundreds of animals, apart from releasing toxic gases and plumes of smoke.
9. Volcano of Sousaki
The Sousaki volcano is dormant in northeastern Corinthia in Greece. It can be located at the northwest end of the South Aegean volcanic arc. The volcano of Sousaki experienced its last eruption around 2.5 million years ago during the Pliocene and early Quaternary era. The region, however, still demonstrates some post-volcanic activity in the form of sulfur gas emissions.
10. Volcano of Poros
Located in the Aegean Sea, the island of Poros in Greece was once two different islands–Sphaeria and Kalaureia or ‘Caularia’. Sphaeria, situated in the southern part is of volcanic origin. Kalaureia in the north, has the most extended area. The volcanic island belongs to the same subduction zone as the volcanoes of Methana, Aegina, and Santorini. It consists of a small Pliocene to Pleistocene lava volcano that erupted from fissures.