From Iceland — What Is Katla Up To?

What Is Katla Up To?

Published September 7, 2011

Recent measurements taken at the site of the Katla eruption have some scientists confused, as their data could indicate an eruption, or no change at all.
Geologist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson told DV that after surveilling the area, he saw what he believes to be a growing instability, which could mean that Katla – the volcano long-believed to be Iceland’s next “megaeruption” – could be set to go off.
Or not: similar measurements have been taken at the area, without any eruption occurring.
One thing that Magnús did see was a crater in the glacial ice that had not been there before, and is growing. He estimates it formed over the past few weeks. A round, localised collapse in the glacial ice could mean that ice under the glacier is being melted at this spot, which would of course indicate geothermal activity in the region.
While Magnús emphasises that continued geothermal and seismic activity in the region could lead to an eruption, it might also not lead to anything at all.
Katla last erupted in 1918. Although it is impossible to predict when eruptions happen or how severe they will be, geologists have used data regarding geological activity in the past to gauge possible time windows and severity for future eruptions. Geologists in Iceland are especially interested in Katla, and will continue to monitor its activity – or lack thereof – very closely.

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