The enchanting landscapes of Santorini and Nisyros may have been shaped by the volcanic eruptions of the distant past, but their own volcanoes do not gain the interest of visitors. However, in recent years something seems to be changing.
On the one hand, educational tourism is steadily increasing, as large educational institutions in Greece and abroad bring their students to the two islands to study their special geomorphology. On the other hand, with the help of expert scientists and new digital technologies, new, more exciting ways of approaching the visitor are created. Indicative are the mobile applications and websites created for the volcanoes of the two islands by scientists from the University of Athens, in collaboration with the two municipalities.
“In recent years in Santorini there has been an increase in geological interest. People want to walk on an active volcano, they see it a bit like an adventure. Besides, there are not many places in the world where you find an active volcano on an islet,” observes Evi Nomikou, associate professor at the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment of the University of Athens.
“At the same time, however, educational tourism has had a special dynamic in recent years. Too many Geology students come to the island as part of educational excursions, usually in September and October, which find accommodation more easily. For Geology students, visiting Nea Kameni is a unique experience. At a distance of 4km. they can see geological layers up to 600,000 years old, a unique stratigraphy, due to the shape of the caldera. Santorini is for geologists a miniature of the Grand Canyon,” he adds.
The “uninitiated” visitor cannot easily recognize and appreciate the geological peculiarity of a volcano. That’s where new technologies come in to help. The Laboratory of Physical Geography of NKUA created some time ago two websites (santorinivolcano.gr and nisyrosgeopark.gr) and two offline digital mobile applications for the volcanoes of Santorini and Nisyros, in collaboration with municipal enterprises of the islands (GEOTHIRA and DEKEN respectively). The scientific coordinator of the project was Dr. Nomikou.
As she notes, “for the first time we created websites that are dedicated exclusively to the geology of the two volcanoes, with rich understandable scientific material. They contain information about the volcanic arc of the South Aegean, the history of the two volcanoes, as well as interactive maps with which the visitor can virtually navigate the most important points of the volcanoes and be informed about how they form. Especially for Nisyros, the creation of the website intends to help in the island’s effort to join the UNESCO geoparks network, which is currently being examined.”
“We also created two digital applications for mobile phones,” continues Dr. Nomikou (the application for the Nisyros volcano is free, while the one for Santorini it is charged at 2.99 euros, as there is the thought to be integrated with the purchase of the ticket for the volcano in the future). “The applications give the visitor the opportunity to locate the points of interest on their own – including craters – show them which route to follow and the safety measures they must observe. At the same time, they offer information about the history of each volcano and the way it was created, while the visitor has the opportunity to see 360 panoramas, videos and historical photos.”
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.