In the late Bronze Age, about 1500 to 1600 BC, a huge explosive eruption occurred on the Greek island of Santorini in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The eruption buried the ancient town of Akrotiri and led to collapse of the island’s central part to form a submarine caldera. The majority of erupted material was in the form of pyroclastic flows, that advanced quickly into the ocean around the island. Most of the volcanic deposits from this eruption are therefore now on the sea floor around Santorini and have yet to be studied in detail.

In April to June 2006 a team of oceanographers from the United States and Greece will conduct studies of the sea floor around Santorini and inside its flooded caldera. This is a collaborative effort between the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett, and the Institute of Oceanography of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in Athens. The goals of this expedition are to determine the distribution and thickness of the submarine pyroclastic deposits from the eruption, and to contribute to an understanding of the evolution of this important volcano. Two separate cruises will be launched to survey, study and sample the sea floor, involving the use of two research vessels, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and a variety of oceanographic research tools:

Cruise -1: The nature and distribution of the volcanic sediment layers from the Bronze Age eruption will be studied during a cruise of the Greek vessel R/V Aegaeo from April 26 to May 8th, 2006. The thickness of the layers will be determined using an air-gun system.

Cruise-2: The surface morphology of the flanks and caldera floor of Santorini volcano, and Kolumbo volcano to the north will be determined during a cruise of R/V Endeavour from May 30th to June 9th, using a side-scan system.

The Thera Expedition is part of a larger voyage. Please have a look at our partner's websites:  


Visits since April 30th, 2006