Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 27 Jan 2017

Expedition details (GPF2017a-002)

Expedition Name (& Club): ASUL: Atlantis SUbterranean Landscapes (Cardiff University Speleological Society)
Destination country: Greece
Region: Cyclades
Lat: 36.3639 Long: 25.4800 Elevation: 301 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Kostas Trimmis
Total cavers: 8
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 4
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 2
UK/nonUK cavers: 5/3
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 18th Jul 2017 - 4th Aug 2017
Duration (days): 18
Man-days in field: 96 Man-days travelling: 12
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

a) Locating, recording, exploring and non-intensive archaeologically and geologically evaluating the caves of Santorini island, Greece
b) Search for the first Lava tubes in Eastern Mediterranean and out of Sicily.
c) Explore and survey the Skaros area lava rifts which have the potentiality to be some of the deepest in the world.
d) Doing a intensive evaluation of the archaeology of the caves and linked these evidence with the reach cultural heritage of the island.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

We choose to apply to GPF because this in an expedition organised by a British university in collaboration with the university caving club. The expedition aims to engage young cavers with field cave research and with the caving community of Greece. Main idea of the expedition is to discover the first Mediterranean Lava tubes outside of Sicily and to explore the archaeological potentiality of Santorini caves.
As this is mainly a students project is difficult to be self-financed. We are aiming this expedition to be a showcase of how cave exploration can be the very first part of any cave research and we expecting ASUL's outcomes to be ground-breaking for the speleological community and our knowledge about lave caves in Europe.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

Santorini is a volcanic island in Greece, part of the Cyclades islands complex. Santorini's geological history is a combination of volcanic eruptions and limestone erosion. Today more than 85% of Santorini's land is lava deposits around St Elias mountain which is the limestone "core" of the island. Santorini is still and active Volcano where the last eruption took place in1956.
Except the geological interest, Santorini is an Archaeological heaven, particularly for researchers of the Bronze age, since on the island the prehistoric town of Akrotiri has been unearthed. Akrotiri is a prehistoric Pompei, with houses surviving up to the second floor. Colourful frescos and fascinating artefacts creates a picture of an advance and wealthy civilisation that people usually connects with the Myth of Atlantis.

Previous expeditions in Santorini, including our preliminary trip during the summer of 2016, locate horizontal caves in lavas in three areas of the island -- see attached map -- and limestone caves in St Elias peak. However only a small amount of these caves have been explored, particularly in the limestone area, and no indications of any lava tubes have been made. Potholes have been also spotted in the lava area or Skaros which are never been explored.

Our main objective is to re-visit these areas, explore the caves, survey and geological evaluate them in order to identify if there is any lava tubes in Santorini, the first in Mediterranean outside Sicily. Simultaneously we will non invasively evaluate the archaeology of the caves and try to find any indication of cave-using during the Akrotiri period.
Except visiting and evaluating previously explored caves we plan to search for new caves in the lava area of Foinikia and on the cliffs of the limestone mountain. We are also aiming to be the first that we will explore and evaluate the potholes in Skaros area. These potholes in lavas have the potentiality to be up to 230m deep, reaching the sea level. In this case there will be among the deepest lava rifts globally.

Santorini is an island that, both Geologically and Archaeologically, is heavily researched.However this is not the case for the island caves. Our expedition is mainly exploratory but as a further outcome we are aiming to put caves in the research and management agenda of Santorini's wealthy cultural and natural heritage.

Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

First speleological research in Santorini conducted by the Hellenic Speleological Society (HSS), during two expeditions in 1952 and 1970. Reports of these expeditions have been published in volumes II and X of the Bulletin of the HSS respectively. 1952 expedition explore the cave of Zoodochos Pigi at Prof Ilias mountain the main limestone core of the volcanic island. 1972 expedition record 3 shelter caves on the west side of the same mountain and 2 relatively large caves (around 80m) in lavas in Foinikia area close to cape Columbo at the northern part of the island.
In 2001 the Speleological Group of Bologna ( Gruppo Speleologico Bolognese - SGSB), Italy, visited the island and explore two horizontal caves in St Elias mountain Zoodochos Pigi (ZP) 1 and 2. The ZP1 is the same cave that have been explored and published by the HSS in 1952, but Italians did not seem to be aware about HSS publication. Italian expedition outcomes have been publish in GSB's bulletin Sottoterra, issue 122, 2001.
In the summer of 2016, two people from Cardiff University (CU) visited the island in order to explore the potentiality for Lava caves. The team visited all the previously published caves and discover a new part in ZP 2 that Italians missed in 2001. A new cave with Lava tube characteristics has also been found in Foinikia close to the caves that have been explored by the HSS in 1972. The cave was more than 70m large, and there are still unexplored passages; the most impressive find it was two megalithic walls inside that cave that need further evaluation to be dated. CU team also spotted the Volcanic rifts in Skaros and after some guidance from locals located two more interested areas with volcanic caves.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Travel by plane from London to Athens, Greece. Staying overnight in Athens and traveling by ferry next day morning to Santorini.

# from UK: 6 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £1,488 £200 per person for a return trip UK-Greece = £1200
£48 per person for a return trip Athens-Santorini = £288

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £188 £140 return trip form Thessaloniki to Santorini for G. Lazarides
£48 return trip Athens to Santorini for F. Mavrides

Travel total: £1,676 Travel p.p. from UK: £248
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £94


Total: £1,032 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £129 Accommodation for two nights in Athens will be paid individually by the participants.

In Santorini the team will be hosted in Akrotiri Excavations dorms. We need to pay £17 per person in order to contribute in cleaning expenses: total: £136

Subsistence allowance is £7 pppd: total £896


Total: £350 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £44 Equipment will be provided by Cardiff University caving club.
We will need around £350 for batteries, extra rope and ringing expendables.

Special 1

Total: £400 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £50 £25 per day gas for two cars for travel on the island and between the caves: total £400
Exped Total: £3,458 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £470
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £316
Mean Exped cost per person: £432

Other Funding

Total: £900 Comments:
The sum of £600 will be provided by Cardiff University.
The sum of £300 will be provided by Blue Star Ferries corporate supporter of the expedition.
Total shortfall: £2,558 Mean shortfall per person: £319

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Prof. John Gunn
Affiliation: University of Birmingham

Reason: Since KT is an active BCRA member since 2011 and current Editor of the Cave Studies Series, John Gunn has a good knowledge about the leader's caving and archaeological experience. JG has also evaluate previous application of KT for the BCRA fund and has seen presentation of previous KT's field expeditions.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Dr Dusan Boric
Affiliation: Cardiff University

Reason: Dusan has supervised KT's PhD work along with KT's previous research project in Balkan Caves. He can address KT's competence as team leader, his experience as cave researcher and he can also comment about the importance that Santorini caves have. Dusan is mainly available via email since he is spent much of his time abroad.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Konstantinos Trimmis


Maps.pdf | photos.pdf