The Environmental impact of the Minoan eruption of Santorini (Thera): numerical analysis of palaeoecological data from Gölhisar, southwest Turkey

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A tephra layer originating from the mid-second millennium BC (similar to3300 C-14 yr BP) 'Minoan' eruption of Santorini (or Thera) in the Aegean has been found in take sediments at Golhisar in southwest Turkey. Microstratigraphic analyses of tephra shard concentration (TSC), pollen, diatoms. sponge spicules and non-siliceous microfossils in sediments from Golhisar permit the impact of this major volcanic eruption on terrestrial and aquatic biota to be investigated quantitatively. Partial redundancy analysis and associated Monte Carlo permutation tests suggest that TSC alone cannot be shown to have had a demonstrable independent and statistically significant effect on terrestrial pollen, non-siliceous microfossil or diatom assemblages. The lack of any clear, discernible change in the terrestrial pollen composition following tephra deposition suggests that there was minimal impact on regional vegetation over decadal-to-century timescales. However, evidence that the deposition of Santorini tephra may have had an impact on the lake system comes from the combined effect of lithology and TSC (which significantly covary) that explains a significant amount of variance in the aquatic data sets. In particular, diatoms and non-siliceous algae show increases in concentration following tephra deposition, exhibiting what appear to be +/-decadal response times to perturbation. These imply enhanced lake productivity due to accelerated input of silica and other nutrients following tephra dissolution.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-444
Number of pages14
JournalThe Holocene
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2002


  • variance partitioning, pollen, diatoms, Thera, Monte Carlo permutation tests, late Holocene, Santorini, redundancy analysis, Minoan, volcanic impact