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The most recent major explosive eruption of the Santorini volcano in Greece—around 3600 years before present (B.P.), often referred to as the Minoan eruption—is one of the largest volcanic events known in historical time and has been the subject of intense volcanological and archeological studies [Druitt et al., 1999]. The submarine volcano Kolumbo, located seven kilometers northeast of Santorini and associated with Santorini's tectonic system, erupted explosively in 1650 A.D., resulting in fatalities on the island of Thera [Fouqué, 1879]. A large fraction of the erupted products from the Minoan eruption has been deposited in the sea but, up to now, only has been studied in distal marine sediments.

As part of a collaborative project between the University of Rhode Island (Narragansett), the Hellenic Centre of Marine Research (Athens, Greece), and the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (Athens), a marine geological survey was conducted around Santorini from April to June 2006. he new work now shows that the volume of the Minoan eruption may be comparable to that of the largest known historical eruption, the 1815 eruption of Tambora in Indonesia [Sigurdsson and Carey, 1989]; provides insights into the depositional processes and size of the Minoan eruption; and led to the discovery of important submarine hydrothermal vents with active mineralization.