Volcano and Earthquake Watch – Katla / Iceland

Posted on October 5, 2011


A new, large earthquake swarm was detected this morning around the Katla volcano in Iceland, which could be a precursor of an eruption. The largest earthquake registered as a magnitude 4 at around 3am.

Katla, the second largest earthquake in Iceland, is currently subject to close monitoring and is considered to be in a particularly active period; an eruption could effect most, if not all, of Europe. The last 15 years have seen 4 eruptions and during an active period a major eruption (the last of which occured 93 years ago) can be expected every two to seven years.

Last year, the country’s president Ólafur Grímsson warned “the time for Katla to erupt is coming close, Iceland has prepared and it is high time for European governments and airline authorities all over Europe and the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption”.

It is believed Katla, named after a vindictive troll of Viking folklore, has the potential to be much stronger and disruptive than the last two Icelandic volcanic eruptions that caused chaos across Europe’s air space, grounding flights and closing airports.

Katla is much larger than its neighbouring Eyjafjallajokull – which erupted last year – with a magma chamber about 10 times the size.

Volcanologists warn that if Katla does erupt, the combination of the magma and the large ice sheet covering the volcano could lead to explosive activity and an ash plume for weeks, if not months.


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