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Symi volcano could spark a row

- by Dave Sewell

Prospects of an underwater volcano near Symi could spark row over who owns it.

Evidence of volcanic activity near the Greek island of Symi has raised questions of who would 'own' any new volcano that might emerge from the sea – Greece or Turkey. Seismologists report considerable volcanic activity in the sea between the Turkish resort of Marmaris and the island of Symi, part of the Greek Dodecanese island group.

Research scientists blame it on high temperatures around two active craters of an underwater volcano discovered about 200 metres below the surface in the seas that stretch from the Greek island of Symi to the Turkish coast at the popular holiday resort of Marmaris.

If the craters continue to grow at their current rate they could rise above the sea surface any time within the next 20 years. Turks have already named the underwater volcano 'Kiountour'.

But the arrival of a new volcano raises the question of who would have jurisdiction over it in the disputed seas between the two countries.

Turkish newspapers forecast a crisis between Greece and Turkey over ownership with a news headline of 'Boil Water in Marmaris' fuelling speculation.

The volcano has already sparked friction. When Turkish scientists tried to measure water temperatures in the seas off Symi they were intercepted by a Greek Coastguard patrol and ordered to leave over claims they were violating Greek territorial waters.

Turkish professor Ahmet Ercan, a consultant geologist of the University of Istanbul, said he was aboard the boat investigating the undersea eruptions in the Aegean between Bozmpouroun, Marmaris and Symi.

Professor Ercan said they managed to take measurements before being approached and followed by the Greek Coastguard and they eventually returned to Turkish waters.

The current borders between Greece and Turkey were set out in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The treaty set out the boundaries of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey and ended all Turkish claims on the Dodecanese Islands that line the Turkish coast.

If a volcano were to surface in the seas between the Greek islands and the Turkish mainland it is unclear who would 'own' the new territory and both countries may well attempt to establish territorial claims on it.