There’s a lot of speculation regarding an imminent eruption at Iceland’s Katla Volcano, albeit not via the Mainstream News Media. The geothermal mechanics that tie the Katla and Eyjafjallajokull volcanoes together is not well understood even within the scientific community so what we are witnessing, in this author’s opinion, is speculation coupled with a healthy dose of fear as it pertains to the faltering Eurozone economy and Iceland’s responsibility to provide whatever “early warning” they may be able to piece together from data that is incomplete and largely misunderstood: (Recent Katla News is listed after this excerpt)
Iceland’s Volcano Katla under Close Observation
07.09.2011 | 07:39
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.
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.” (My emphasis)
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, ruv.is reports. FULL ARTICLE HERE
Note: Even though history has demonstrated that large earthquakes prior to an eruption is part of the historical record for the Katla Volcano, it is important to note that this fact is not necessarily going to be true on all Katla eruptions. Approximately ten to fifteen percent of all volcanoes occasionally erupt with absolutely no warning, including but not limited to earthquakes. (Deformation of the volcano itself, harmonic tremors, etc. The glacier covering Katla does tend to cause more earthquake activity than we would normally see from volcanoes that are not encased in a glacier, and it is this author’s hope that before Katla does erupt that some warning can be given – but without a comprehensive action plan for the British Isles and Northern Europe, a warning may be of little significance except as it pertains to activity around the volcano and flights that could be in the airspace that would be most at risk.
For the past few days there have still been earthquake swarms and harmonic tremors at the Katla Volcano, and again, this does not indicate that an eruption is imminent, however, if you live in any of the zones that a Katla Eruption could affect – food storage and other essentials is always a good preventive measure. This is an exceptionally dangerous volcano for the European community and historically, Katla eruptions have brought death and misery on a large scale that include, but are not limited to; crop failures, poisonous gas, debris falling from the sky soon after a major eruption. Katla is overdue for a major eruption, and I believe that history will repeat itself as it usually does – so keeping a watch on this volcano is not being overly cautious – it’s just common sense if you live in the actual danger zone.
The links provided below are dated and will direct you to the Iceland Volcano and Earthquake Blog. Jón Frímann provides excellent analysis and charts that visually help to understand some of what is going on at Katla: