Thinia Valley ERT Survey

Key fieldwork completed

A key piece of fieldwork in our search for the location of Homer’s Ithaca has been completed.

It has been made possible by the generous donations of our supporters who responded to our 2021 Research Appeal.

A huge “thank you” to everyone who contributed.

We still need funds to carry out the fieldwork for our other Research Plans for 2021.

The big question: was Paliki once an island?

For Kefalonia’s western peninsula, Paliki, to have once been a separate island and so a compelling candidate for the true location of Ithaca, we have to explain a geological mystery. How was the marine channel that once separated the island filled in to become a peninsula?

All the evidence we’ve collected so far suggests that the Thinia valley is where the channel would have been, and it has been filled in by massive landslides.

Satellite view of Kefalonia

But the only way to find out for certain is to look deep beneath the surface at the underlying geology. Boreholes drilled into the valley floor have given us clues but to get the full 3-D picture we have used a geophysics technique called Electrical Resistivity Tomography, or ERT, to survey a large section of the valley to a depth of some 200m.

What is ERT?

An ERT survey involves passing electric current through the earth and measuring the electrical resistance of the underlying rocks.

Thinia Valley ERT Data Image
Sub-surface resistance image from ERT data (from an earlier ERT survey in the Thinia valley).

By using hundreds of electrodes hammered into the soil and sending current between them, it’s possible to create a three dimensional image of the electrical resistance of the sub-surface to a significant depth.

Sophisticated computer analysis of the resistance data produces images that can be interpreted by geophysicists to understand the geology under the surface.

For example, it is possible to differentiate between the underlying bedrock and looser landslide material.

Our thanks go to a team of scientists from the National Technical University of Athens, led by Professor George Apostolopoulos, who toiled in the extreme heat of July 2021 to gather the data.

2 Responses

  • Hi,
    truely exciting news.
    By the way, I was wondering about the name Paliki, which I just took for granted uptil now.
    Could it be a contraction of Palaioi Oikoi? Meaning: Old houses. has the provenence of the name been researched/documented?
    Warm regards,

    • Hi Jean-Philippe

      I passed your question to Professor James Diggle who replied: “I’m afraid this etymology doesn’t work. The name Paliki itself isn’t ancient, but is derived from Pale/Paleis (alternative names for the ancient Hellenistic town sited just north of Lixouri on Paliki). The etymology of that name is equally unknown.”

      Hope this helps and thanks for your continued interest and support.

      Julian Rush
      (Odysseus Unbound)

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