The tsunami that hit the islands of the southern Aegean and the southern shores of Asia Minor was created in two phases.
The second mechanism causing the final phase of the eruption was the collapse of the volcano’s cone.
“It is believed that after a large percentage of volcanic material was ejected, the volcano’s cone emptied and that’s why it collapsed, simultaneously creating the large caldera” — or crater — “which today can be seen on Thera (Santorini),” Papadopoulos says.
“The collapse of the cone into the sea drove out a large amount of water, which then receded back into the sea and crashed upon the walls of the caldera, creating a tsunami.”
According to data derived from scientific research, the height of the tsunami waves ranged between 15 and 30 meters on Santorini and in northern Crete, based on the offshore geomorphology.
“It was probably a very harsh and violent tsunami,” Papadopoulos says. “It is estimated that the waves reached northern Crete 30 to 45 minutes after they were created [by the eruption]. The large height of the waves likely provoked a vast array of catastrophes at coastal Minoan sites. However, we don’t believe that [the tsunami] provoked the collapse of the Minoan civilization, which should be attributed to another era.”
Scientists came to this conclusion in part because they examined similar events in modern history, such as the recent tsunami in Indonesia.
“This tsunami provoked great catastrophes in one lengthy zone which included several countries in Southeast Asia and also caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people,” Papadopoulos says.
“However, several kilometers further inland, in the interior of the countries that were damaged, life went on as normal. We believe something similar happened in northern Crete, in the neighboring islands and on the southern shores of Asia Minor.”
Also see: Scientists probe the most famous volcanic eruption ever to take place in Greece