Friday, July 11, 2014

Outburst Flooding From Katla Volcano Iceland [UPDATED 7/16/14]

It appears that Katla Volcano in Iceland, under the Myrdalsjökull ice glacier is experiencing heightened activity. Fellow volcano blogger Jon Frimann has posted that Iceland has raised the alert level to 'uncertain', as glacial outburst floods or 'jökulhlaups' have been occurring, in conjunction with rising conductivity levels in rivers, as well as gaseous hazards being reported.

Katla volcano had a minor eruption following the now-famous eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010.

Current seismicity is concentrated within the Katla caldera underneath the glacier, and no eruptive activity on the surface is yet apparent.

It is too soon to say whether any activity will increase. Other areas in Iceland are showing increased seismicity, including the Askja system, and the Torafjökull volcanic system, however no eruptions have occurred in Iceland since mid 2011 when the last eruption of Grimsnes (Grimsvötn) occurred.

If any updates happen, I'll update this post.

*****UPDATE 7/16/14*****

A larger quake swarm is occurring within the Katla caldera. The largest quake, which occurred yesterday, was magnitude 3.1. While numerous, these small quakes do not represent anything truly immense at this point. It is possible that eruptions might begin at the volcano, but these would likely be small, and probably not energetic enough to break free of the glacier.


(Click to enlarge) Image from en.vedur.is/Iceland Meterological Office showing quake swarm in Katla caldera.


Iceland has lifted the 'uncertain' warning from Katla, however it is possible for jökulhlaups (glacier outburst floods) to occur with little warning. Given the activity, I'd steer clear of the volcano and associated watersheds until things calm down. Hazards include jökulhlaups, gases, and the possibility of explosive eruption (even if unlikely at this point).

I'm keeping my eye on this one for a while. Iceland has had a few years of relative calm (by relative, I mean nothing too explosive... the land there is always seething), which is always a little nervous. Iceland's many volcanoes are always a potential threat, and can erupt with little, or very subtle warning.

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