The monitoring of the active submarine volcano Kolumbo reached a successful milestone with the completion of the second oceanographic expedition from June 12th to June 15th, 2023. The Municipality of Thira provided the necessary funding for the expedition, which was executed aboard the Greek oceanographic vessel “AEGEO” of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research. This collaborative effort took place within the framework of a contract agreement involving the Municipality of Thira, the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA).
The mission’s objective was to deploy additional specialized scientific instruments as part of the research program “SANTORY: SANTORini seafloor’s observatoryY” (www.santory.gr), led by Associate Professor Paraskevi Nomikou. The instruments were intended for visual recording of the active hydrothermal vent field of the volcano, measurement of the hydrothermal chimneys’ temperature, monitoring of the physical parameters of the hydrothermal vent field, and maintenance of the previously installed scientific instruments (December 2022). The task was accomplished using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (Max Rover) provided by HCMR.
The financial support provided by the Municipality of Thira played a crucial role in facilitating the endeavors of both Greek and international scientists. Their efforts focused on the installation of state-of-the-art scientific instruments and the maintenance of the shallow underwater volcanic observatory (SANTORY) located within the Kolumbo crater. The observatory, situated at a depth of 500m, holds the distinction of being the sole underwater volcanic observatory in the entire Mediterranean region.
Over the past two decades, the Kolumbo submarine volcano has been the subject of extensive research conducted by the scientists of the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment of NKUA, the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBA) of HCMR, the School of Rural, Surveying and Geoinformatics Engineering of NTUA, as well as esteemed international institutes and universities such as INGV, GEOMAR, University of Hamburg, University of Rhode Island, and ENS, who are in excellent cooperation with the Municipality of Thira and contribute to the comprehensive understanding of underwater research and marine geohazards in the Santorini-Kolumbo area.
The SANTORY Research Program “SANTORini’s seafloor volcanic observatoryY” is an innovative multidisciplinary research program aimed at continuous monitoring of Kolumbo by utilizing cuttinge-edge marine technology instruments, including hyperspectral sensors, pressure and temperature sensors, radiation spectrometer, and obtaining data and samples for analysis of the chimneys of the hydrothermal vent field. The data recorded by the scientific instruments in the volcano’s crater will enrich the database of the Civil Protection of the Municipality of Thira and facilitate the construction of specialized volcanic hazard maps.
Sustaining funding for the oceanographic missions and ensuring the ongoing maintenance of monitoring instruments in the submarine volcano observatory, as well as conducting regular measurements on Kolumbo, hold significant importance. The Municipality of Thira remains committed to being a supportive partner in innovative scientific endeavors, working in collaboration with NKUA. The SANTORY research program serves as an exemplary model for the establishment of shallow underwater observatories on a global scale.
Chief scientists of the research project are Researcher B Dr. Paraskevi Polymenakou (HCMR) and Associate Professor Paraskevi Nomikou (NKUA). SANTORY is funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) within the framework of the “1st Call for HFRI Research Projects for Faculty Members and Researchers and the supply of high-value research equipment”, lasting three years.