The Christiana-Santorini-Kolumbo volcanic field (CSKVF) in the Aegean Sea is one of the most active volcano-tectonic lineaments in Europe. Santorini has been an iconic site in volcanology and archaeology since the 19th century, and the onshore volcanic products of Santorini are one of the best-studied volcanic sequences worldwide. However, little is known about the chronology of volcanic activity of the adjacent submarine Kolumbo volcano, and even less is known about the Christiana volcanic island. In this study, we exploit a dense array of high-resolution marine seismic reflection profiles to link the marine stratigraphy to onshore volcanic sequences and present the first consistent chronological framework for the CSKVF, enabling a detailed reconstruction of the evolution of the volcanic rift system in time and space. We identify four main phases of volcanic activity, which initiated in the Pliocene with the formation of the Christiana volcano (phase 1). The formation of the current southwest-northeast–trending rift system (phase 2) was associated with the evolution of two distinct volcanic centers, the newly discovered Poseidon center and the early Kolumbo volcano. Phase 3 saw a period of widespread volcanic activity throughout the entire rift. The ongoing phase 4 is confined to the Santorini caldera and Kolumbo volcano. Our study highlights the fundamental tectonic control on magma emplacement and shows that the CSKVF evolved from a volcanic field with local centers that matured only recently to form the vast Santorini edifice.

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