Historical bathymetric charts and the evolution of Santorini submarine volcano, Greece

TitleHistorical bathymetric charts and the evolution of Santorini submarine volcano, Greece
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWatts AB, Nomikou P, Moore JDP, Parks MM, Alexandri M
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Date Published03/2015

Historical bathymetric charts are a potential resource for better understanding the dynamics of the seafloor and the role of active processes, such as submarine volcanism. The British Admiralty, for example, have been involved in lead line measurements of seafloor depth since the early 1790s. Here, we report on an analysis of historical charts in the region of Santorini volcano, Greece. Repeat lead line surveys in 1848, late 1866, and 1925–1928 as well as multibeam swath bathymetry surveys in 2001 and 2006 have been used to document changes in seafloor depth. These data reveal that the flanks of the Kameni Islands, a dacitic dome complex in the caldera center, have shallowed by up to ∼175 m and deepened by up to ∼80 m since 1848. The largest shallowing occurred between the late 1866 and 1925–1928 surveys and the largest deepening occurred during the 1925–1928 and 2001 and 2006 surveys. The shallowing is attributed to the emplacement of lavas during effusive eruptions in both 1866–1870 and 1925–1928 at rates of up to 0.18 and 0.05 km3 a−1, respectively. The deepening is attributed to a load-induced viscoelastic stress relaxation following the 1866–1870 and 1925–1928 lava eruptions. The elastic thickness and viscosity that best fits the observed deepening are 1.0 km and ∼1016 Pa s, respectively. This parameter pair, which is consistent with the predictions of a shallow magma chamber thermal model, explains both the amplitude and wavelength of the historical bathymetric data and the present day rate of subsidence inferred from InSAR analysis.