Thera Volcano
© Steve Jurvetson, CC BYThe massive eruption of the Thera volcano more than 3,500 years ago left behind a hollowed out island, today known as Santorini.
Known as one of Greece's most famous tourist destination islands, Santorini's unique beauty was, as many know, the result of the eruption of an ancient volcano — one that is still alive to this day, as scientists remind us.

In a CNN profile, scientists studying the volcano noted that although it hasn't erupted for hundreds of years, it is by no means dead.

"If we start seeing increased activity in Kolumbo then we need to be alert," Tim Druitt, volcanologist and expedition co-chief of the deep drilling research vessel JOIDES Resolution, which visited Santorini for the first time late last year, told CNN.

Capable of drilling up to 26,000 feet below the surface of the Aegean Sea, the researchers collected sediments that hadn't yet been uncovered as they attempted to scientifically piece together the region's storied volcanic history.

Another eruption could prove catastrophic. During the Bronze Age, the volcano's eruption wiped out an entire civilization while forming Santorini's one-of-a-kind, semi-submerged caldera.

Comment: The eruption was indeed significant, however a lot more natural phenomena were also occurring during that period that contributed to the collapse of the Bronze Age: The Seven Destructive Earth Passes of Comet Venus

Out of This World

The JOIDES expedition, CNN notes, is far from the first time Kolumbo's been probed by scientists.

Oceanographer and Santorini native Evi Nomikou told CNN that she has taken part in every expedition to the underwater volcano for the past 20 years, and the results have been striking.

Specifically, the University of Athens researcher said that a groundbreaking NASA probe in 2019 led to the discovery of "an extra-terrestrial ocean with life forms that can be found on other planets."

As fascinating as the entire thing is, the concept of one of the world's most popular tourist destinations sitting atop a live volcano is a pretty freaky one to consider.

Fortunately, volcanoes move slowly, and when and if Kolumbo prepares to erupt again, scientists will likely know about it in advance.

"The good news is that volcanoes do give plenty of warning," Druitt told CNN.