Columbo is an active submarine volcano, located about 7 km northeast of Santorini island on the Hellenic arch. When Columbo exploded in 1650 AD, after a year of intense earthquake activity, about seventy people died. After the explosion, volcano ash was spread by the air, as far as the Minor Asia. Moreover, an island was created, which was sunk four months later. Columbo’s crater has a diameter of about 1,7km across. Its top is about 18m under the sea and its bottom is about 505m deep.

HCMR would definitely participate in the research which started in 2001 and continued with dives in the active volcano. Several missions and cooperations were accomplished mostly with American Universities and Institutes. Dives with “Thetis” and MAXRoV also took place. In the volcanic cone, a liquid carbon dioxide field of hydrothermal vents was discovered in the bottom of the crater, from where gases are released, which can reach the heights of 10m and temperatures of 220oC. This metal-enriched material issuing from the vents has built chimneys of polymetallic sulfide/sulfates to a maximum height of 4m. Large surfaces in the crater are covered by an orange-red thick bacteria community. Several colourful bacteria communities are also attached to these chimneys, composing incredible natural art crafts.

Diving in Columbo was an amazing experience. However, what can’t be described by words was our anxiety of what are we were going to face in such an environment.
Approaching 490 metres, there was a great crater floor, and not a usual one. Chimneys of 2-4 meters height were everywhere, from which extremely powerful gases and water were gashing out, creating a ten-meter high water column.

This indescribably beautiful scenery reveals the disastrous power of Columbo, which still remains active through all these years.



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(photo: olyvon)