A simplified map of Greece showing the major arcs and subduction zone in the area. Greece is a part of the Eurasian plate and in the south the African plate slips under Europe. Red line shows the contact between the two plates in the area.
Introduction in Geology of Greece
Despite its small surface area, Greece is endowed with a particularly rich and diversified natural environment, with unique geomorphology, intense contrasts and many regions with great aesthetic value. The country’s abundant natural “gifts” – thousands of lace-like coasts, imposing mountains, caves and gorges, lakes, rivers, biotopes of rare beauty and unique ecosystems, coupled with the mild climate, rank it among the ideal destinations for everyone, for you.
When you visit Greece, you have a great opportunity to experience some unique geological features:
Ancient mines and quarries of the Classical Era
The real reason behind the great ancient Greek civilization is the mines of silver, gold, iron and other natural ores. In particular the Lavrio silver mine was closely related with the rise and fall of the Athenian Empire (5th – 4th BC). So, after visiting the Acropolis, the Museum and the Ancient Market, you must visit the Lavrio mine and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio.
Mid-ocean ridge (oceanic crust)
Greece is one of the few places in Europe you can actually see oceanic crust, not fragments but whole mountains of it!
Oceanic crust is the part of Earth’s lithosphere that surfaces in the ocean basins, most of the times at depths of thousand meters. New oceanic crust is forming now in the Atlantic Ocean’s mid-ocean ridge.
A mid-ocean ridge is a general term for an underwater mountain system that consists of various mountain ranges (chains), typically having a valley known as a rift running along its spine, formed by plate tectonics. This type of oceanic ridge is characteristic of what is known as an oceanic spreading center, which is responsible for seafloor spreading.
Being in the front line of the African – European plate collision is a blessing and a curse. Greece is one of the few places in Europe you can actually experience the power of earth. Beautiful active faults, forming the land, making gorges, valleys, lakes, mountains. Unlike other countries, most of the active faults in Greece are quite visible. A must see!!!
An active fault is a fault that is likely to have another earthquake sometime in the future. Faults are commonly considered to be active if there has been movement observed or evidence of seismic activity during the last 10,000 years.
Active faulting is considered to be a geologic hazard and related to earthquakes as a cause. Effects of movement on an active fault include strong ground motion, surface faulting, tectonic deformation, landslides and rockfalls, liquefaction, tsunamis, and seiches.
Quaternary faults are those active faults that have been recognized at the surface and which have evidence of movement in the past 1.6 million years. That is the duration of the Quaternary Period.
A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust. Being so close to a geological active area, Greece has more than 200 hot springs. Because heated water can hold more dissolved solids, warm and especially hot springs also often have a very high mineral content, containing everything from calcium to lithium, and even radium.
Greece lies in a geographic position that is favorable to geothermal resources, both high temperature and low temperature. High temperature springs, suitable for power generation coupled with heating and cooling, are found at depths of 1-2 kilometers on the Aegean islands of Milos, Santorini, and Nisyros. Other locations that are promising at depths of 2-3 kilometers are on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and Samothraki as well as the basins of Central-Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
Low temperature geothermal resources are found at the plains of Macedonia-Thrace and in the vicinity of each of the 56 hot springs found in Greece. These areas include Loutra – Samothrakis, Lesvos, Chios, Alexandroupolis, Serres, Thermopyles, Chalkidiki, and many others.
One of the most important and beautiful place in Greece is Meteora.Meteora is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of Thessaly near the Pineios River and Pindos mountain range. The Meteora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Visiting Meteora is unique experience.