Katla Teases Us Once Again - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Katla Teases Us Once Again

Published September 27, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Tremors were recorded just south of the volcano Katla yesterday, but it remains decidedly unclear if an eruption is imminent.

Vísir reports that the tremor measured 3.9 on the Richter scale, making it not an insignificant quake, but also not a definitive sign that Katla will erupt.

“There have been some unusually large tremors, and quite a few of them have been over 3 [on the Richter scale],” geologist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson told reporters. “What that means is another story. They are rather shallow tremors, and you would look for more signs of activity, such as expansion and increasing geological heat. If we saw all these things together, than that would be an obvious sign that the volcano is heating up.”

As reported, Katla has been “overdue” for an eruption for some time now. “On average the time between eruptions is 50 years but now the volcano hasn‘t erupted in 98 years,” earthquake hazards coordinator at the Icelandic Met Office Kristín Jónsdóttir told RÚV. “There will be an eruption, it‘s only a question of when.”

However, the current seismic activity around Katla does not indicate an eruption is imminent, professor of geology Páll Einarsson told RÚV.

“Katla is a powerful volcano and we should never forget that,” he said. “However, there is nothing in this recent series of events that indicates especially that volcanic activity or an eruption is imminent. People ask, when will Katla erupt? My response is it erupted in 2011. We just didn’t notice it.”

Here, Páll refers to the glacial flooding which came from four ice cauldrons in the southeastern part of the Katla volcano that year, resulting in no loss of life but the destruction of a bridge over Múlakvísl.

As such, while technically speaking it is only a matter of time before Katla erupts, the latest recorded activity in the region does not indicate an eruption is imminent at this time. The Grapevine will keep readers updated on any new developments as they arise.

Related:

Volcano Watch: A Closer Look At Katla

Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Show Me More!