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Thira Island, Cyclades, Aegean Sea, Greece - In about 1640 BC a gigantic eruption occurred on the eastern Mediterranean island of Thíra, more commonly known by its Latin name Santorini (Saint Irene).

It eruption devastated the island of Thíra, causing a large part of it to be submerged under the sea as a volcanic caldera. Today the volcano is a huge caldera that is submerged in the sea and nearly encircled by what remained of Thíra after the eruption. Several minor lava eruptions have built up two small islands in the caldera’s center. The last of these eruptions was in 1950. Although that eruption was minor, the history of this volcano shows that it is capable of truly enormous explosions that would have devastating effects.

The 1650BC eruption was so destructive that it was probably a factor in the decline of the Minoan culture. Although no direct records of the eruption exist, we can infer that it had a widespread impact on the Minoan civilization on nearby Crete and other islands. Many scholars attribute the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis to this eruption.