Nisyros: seismic!

Sunday was the last day with the bus service at useable times for walking.  Schools start back on Monday and the buses revert to 07.00 and 14.15.  An 07.00 start may be good to avoid walking in the heat of the day but it means I miss breakfast in the hotel which is from 07.30.  More importantly it means I hit the brick wall of my metabolism.  I can  be ‘up and doing’ at that time, if necessary, and in fact I used to be in the office every work day at 07.00.   It’s just that my body doesn’t kick into gear for physical exercise  that early in the morning.  I used to go running regularly when I was in college and once decided to run before breakfast.  I was so ill that I decided never to attempt it again.

I caught the 11.00 bus to Nikia at the furthest side of the caldera rim with a plan to explore a couple of the smaller craters on that side of the caldera and try to plot the extent of the seismic fissure which opened up in 2003 before walking back via the col.

The start of the path from Nikia down to the caldera is looked over by another of those giant lava pinnacles resembling some prehistoric monster

Looking from part way down the path to the Parletia lava pinnacles with it’s castle remains

…. and looking towards the crater

The direct path down to the caldera is one of the best I know anywhere.  It is clear, in places very well paved with stone, and with dramatic views the whole way down.  It’s Walk 3 on Nisyros on my Greek Island Walks website:

Towards the bottom it passes alongside small craters and on Sunday as is often the case there was a strong smell of sulphur gas as you approach.  The craters are small and not as dramatic as Stephanos or Polyvotis but are none the less very interesting. And still seismically active albeit on a ’ticking over’ scale.  One of them is in a small valley with a dry waterfall feeding into it and massive stone-built terrace walls to create farmable land.  Sulphur encrusts the rock and the smell of the gas is very strong. So an hour or so mooching around with the camera was all I could manage.

Sulphur encrusted cliff

….. and another

Looking up the small crater to the huge stone retaining wall topped by farmland

Close-up of sulphur encrustation

No! It’s not popcorn.

Then I perched on a rock in the shade of a tree to eat my banana and nutbar before setting out across the caldera floor in search of the seismic fissure.

Two key landmarks for navigating across the caldera, abandoned church and Parletia pinnacles

“I don’t care what you say, I’m not sticking around until Christmas!”

I found it part way along its length and so backtracked to find where it began but soon discovered that it was far more extensive and bigger than I had thought.  It’s not continuous or consistent but it must be at least 2 kilometres long, varying in depth from a 30 cms or so to about 5 metres and varying in width up to 10 metres.  Nor is it a single fissure.  In places it’s like a series of interconnected small canyons.  It’s so extensive that animals, including free-ranging goats, cows, pigs and turkeys have established crossing points.

I soon realised that any hope I had entertained of plotting it on a map was just too big a task for mid-walk.  So I stuck to taking photos and determined to check it out on Google Earth ….. if the resolution for Nisyros allows.

Inside one of the fissures: note the sulphur horizon in the soil

Inside another

Though enthused by the sheer magnitude of  the fissure I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that I hadn’t been able to mark it on a map.

Next stopping point was the abandoned ancient settlement at the top of the col between the Lakki and Kato Lakki calderas.  It’s a great place to reach and take a break in the breeze from the heat of the long climb up.  Hidden away in the rocks are a number of very old arch-construction houses.  One I particularly like is built into the rocks with 3 interconnecting rooms the rearmost of which is a small church still with its altar and a fragment of marble carving.  I’m amazed that that hasn’t been looted for someone’s garden decoration so I’ll keep its location a secret.

Dwellings built into the rocks

The rearmost of which is a small church

The altar

Then back down to Mandraki and a swim.

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1 Response to Nisyros: seismic!

  1. fleck1welsh says:

    Interesting Barry. Any hope of a small sample of the sulphur encrustation – or is that forbidden?

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