Iceland raised the alarm after its largest volcano was hit by the biggest tremors since 1977 and two quakes larger than four in magnitude earlier this Monday rocked the crater of Katla, the country’s Met Office said in a statement. Iceland is in the remote North Atlantic and is a volcanic hotspot often hit by seismic activity.
That was then followed by at least 10 more tremors at the volcano, which rises 1,450 meters into the air on the North Atlantic island’s southern coast. The quakes measured magnitude was 4.2 and magnitude 4.5.
According to the Daily Mail, Gunnar Gudmundsson, a geophysicist said that authorities are observing the situation and described it as a “little bit unusual” but said there is “no sign” of an eruption.
Named after a malevolent troll, Katla who typically awakens every 80 years or so and last erupted in 1918. The Icelandic Meteorological Office is reporting no tremor recorded currently at Katla, which does suggest that at least for now, no magma is making its way to the surface (for the moment). Icelandic officials have not changed the alert status at from normal at this point.
Facts about Katla:
- It is among the most regularly erupting volcanoes in Iceland, averaging about two eruptions each century.
- The eruptions area accompanied by enormous laharic floods which have formed a vast sandur plain.
- The volcanic massive is partially covered by the glacier Mýrdalsjökull which fills a caldera depression and covers the eruptive vents.
- Katla has experienced numerous earthquake swarms in the 98 years since its last eruption, most recently in 2011.
- The Southern coast was extended by 5km by the laharic flood deposits.
Katla does have a history of enormous, explosive eruptions, which means it makes people very anxious. Keeping an eye on any restlessness at the behemoth is crucial for both the people of Iceland and for air travel across the North Atlantic.
According to Wired, two big perils exist at Katla right now. One is that the volcano might have its first eruption this century. That lack of harmonic tremor means that the probability of an imminent eruption is low. The other threat might be a jökulhlaup, or glacial outburst flood. Melting from the summer within the Myrdalsjokull icecap and that meltwater can amass until it spills over as a flood of water, ice, and debris. These have occurred every so often and do not need to be connected with any volcanic activity.
An eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 caused the termination of more than 100,000 flights across Europe on concern that glass-like particles formed from lava might melt in aircraft engines and clog turbines.
As Bloomberg records, there were no immediate reports of casualties or damages to property.