Iceland’s Volcano Katla under Close Observation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iceland Review   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 10:39

Increased geothermal heat and seismic activity below Mýrdalsjökull glacier in south Iceland, which covers the volcano Katla, might indicate an upcoming eruption and scientists are closely monitoring the volcano. However, it is not certain that an eruption is imminent.

Iceland’s Volcano Katla under Close Observation

Mýrdalsjökull and Mt. Maelifell. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson went on an observation flight over Mýrdalsjökull yesterday. “There is always uncertainty regarding Katla and therefore it was considered necessary to fly across the glacier to shed a light on what is going on,” he told Fréttabladid.

He noted that calderas and cracks in the glacier clearly showed increased geothermal heat and regular series of minor earthquakes also indicate that the volcano has been expanding recently.

Gudmundsson pointed out that there is only one definite indication that an eruption in Katla is coming up. “All sources of Katla eruptions in the past 500 years mention large earthquakes that can clearly be found in Mýrdalur [by Vík] a few hours before the eruption begins. That is in fact the only absolute warning.”

There was some seismic activity below Mýrdalsjökull yesterday but this morning it seemed to have subsided. The glacial river Múlakvísl also flooded but the water level peaked yesterday evening and the water flow has since decreased, reports.

The calderas which caused the flood in Múlakvísl in July are unchanged but Gudmundsson said there is a new depression in the icecap to the south of them which indicate increased geothermal heat.

He added there is no clear reason for yesterday’s earthquakes. According to, scientists believe water may have caused the tremors, although they were weaker than those that preceded the flood in Múlakvísl last summer.

Since the flood in July approximately 800 minor earthquakes have been registered in the area, compared to 300 last year. Gudmundsson iterated there is full reason to be prepared for an eruption but these series of events won’t necessarily lead to one.

The last large volcanic eruption in Katla occurred in 1918.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 12:11

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