Possible small eruption in Katla volcano, small glacier flood followed it

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It seems that an small eruption took place in Katla volcano caldera during the night. At the moment it seems to be over. But it is hard to be sure. According to Icelandic news there where three newly formed cauldrons in the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The eruption is unlikely to break the glacier at current time if it remains small. Newest news reports say that cracks have formed in the glacier around the cauldrons.

Evacuations are currently taking place in Álftaver, Þakgil and any other place that might be danger. People how are close to affected rivers from Mýrdalsjökull are urged to get away from them due to danger of dangerous gases in the glacier water.

The bridge over Múlakvísl is gone, it did vanish the flood water early this morning. According to the news the bridge got flooded around 03:00 UTC last night. This means that Road 1 is closed in this area.

Currently earthquake activity continues in Katla volcano caldera. But the tremor has been dropping for the past few hours after it topped around 03:00 UTC last night.


Earthquakes this morning in Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Harmonic tremor at 09:16 UTC this morning. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Harmonic tremor at 09:16 UTC this morning. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The tremor has dropped, but is not down to background levels yet. This might be small eruption for the moment. But I fear that might change in the next hours to few days. There is also an big risk of new floods from Mýrdalsjökull glacier due to this small eruption, or if new fissures open up at new places.

I am going to post more updates when I know more. At the moment, this is just an small eruption. But as told before. That might change without any warning at all.

News in English.

Possible eruption in Katla (Rúv.is)

News in Icelandic.

Rýma á Þakgil – tugir á svæðinu (Rúv.is)
Mögulegt hlaup í Skálm (Rúv.is)
Ekki stórt gos í Kötlu (Rúv.is)
Sigkatlar benda til að lítið gos sé hafið (Vísir.is)
Sjá sprungur í jöklinum (mbl.is)

This entry was posted in Earthquakes, Eruptions, Glacier flood, Katla / Mýrdalsjökull, Volcano. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Possible small eruption in Katla volcano, small glacier flood followed it

  1. david says:

    Thank you for your new blog post.

    So no ash at this current time?

    • Norvegr says:

      david, the eruption, which might just be a hydrothermal event is under the glacier, so there will be no ash at the current time. As i understand it, the glacier is 200-300m thick in most parts of the Katla crater, though it might be shallower near the rims of the crater, which is where the current activity is taking place.

      This event seem to be just similar to the 1999 and 1955 events. None of these eruptions broke the ice, it might be the case this time as well. We might have to wait another decade or more before we see Katla in a big eruption. But this is certainly an interesting development, what are the odds of Katla and Hekla eruption the same year if it would happen!

      • Norvegr says:

        Soryy, i meant; what are the odds of Hekla, Katla and Grímsvötn erupting the same year!

        • david says:

          Thank you for your comment. This is all kinda new to me, thats why I have to ask a lot of question to undestand this.

          And if there was a big eruption coming in the future, would there be more earthquakes and a lot stronker ones too? :D

          • Norvegr says:

            There is a lot to learn about how a volcano act before an eruption, and its all very difficult to tell what are signs of a big eruption or a small eruption or an eruption at all. Usually, bigger earthquakes and many more earthquakes occurre in the time before a larger eruption yes.

            The thing is, all volcanoes act differently, and since Katla haven’t erupted for over 90 years no modern equipment have monitored an eruption, so we can’t know for sure what are the exact signs of an imminent eruption. But like Grímsvötn in May we saw many 3+ earthquakes and hundreds of smaller earthquakes in the hours right before the eruption started, i would expect something similar from Katla.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks Jon for the info and your work,

  2. David James says:

    The IMO’s website seems to be down….?

  3. Jack @ Finland says:

    Only the english page of vedur.is is unreachable at the moment, so it seems to have gone due to heavy traffic (large amount of international visitors).

  4. Raving says:

    http://www.vedur.is/skjalftar-og-eldgos/jardskjalftar/myrdalsjokull/

    The earthquakes come in pulse trains. My intuition is that it will continue and build, notwithstanding the present decline in tremors.

    http://i55.tinypic.com/2efssbn.gif

    ‘Night all

  5. david says:

    http://i55.tinypic.com/2efssbn.gif

    to my eyes this looks like the red, blue and green lines are going down, decreasing.

    Am I right?

  6. Harmonic tremor is currently dropping at the moment. But it has done so before, just to pick up again. It is impossible to know if that happens again there.

    Here are pictures of the glacier flood and the damage it did create.

    http://www.visir.is/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=XZ&Date=20110709&Category=FRETTIR&ArtNo=709009998&Ref=PH

  7. Almannavarnir (Civil Emergency Authority) have declared Mýrdalsjökull glacier an danger zone and have banned all traffic on it.

    News about this in Icelandic.

    http://www.ruv.is/frett/myrdalsjokull-er-haettusvaedi

  8. Pieter says:

    This event reminds me of November 2010, jökulhlaup from Grimsvötn, half year later we had the largest eruption in 100 years.

  9. Fiona says:

    IMO website still down, pity

    • Jack @ Finland says:

      No, it’s not. Only the english section is currently unavailable.

  10. Rick says:

    In what way? Does anyone have a spare satellite in space, so we can see through the cloud cover and check the for heat? :)

    What happen in the Hekla area of kicked started these events in Katla area? I do not see how myself, but it is a few days apart.

    • Pieter says:

      A jokulhlaup caused by increased geothermal heath is a common sign of a volcano waking up. That was the case for Grimsvötn, and could be the case here. If that was correct, this new magma influx could mean that the coming year will be interesting. But it also could mean nothing, just as in 1955 and 1999.

      Hekla and Katla are non related, these volcanoes have no known connections.

      • Rick says:

        Thanks you for the answer Pieter, maybe the show is over before it starts or just half time.

    • Peter Cobbold says:

      There is histroical data hinting that eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull are temporally associated with some of Katla’s eruptions, and the system of faulting between the two lends support to some sort of link. Perhaps increased activity of Katla 18 months after Eyjaf is not entirely unexpected.

  11. E says:

    Can you explain what damage has been done to the main road. The images of the glacier flood show quite a bit of damage. There’s not a lot of English language info at the moment as it is so soon. I know people who are setting off to Iceland tomorrow.

    Thanks for your informative site.

  12. Diana Barnes says:

    Where is Katla in relation to this picture?
    The low cloud cover over the glacial area can bee seen clearly here.

    http://www.simnet.is/jonfr500/earthquake/vefmyndeyjafjalmulaen.html

  13. Since an prank calling idiot woke me up (pretending to be an News of the World reporter. But I did hear for an split second the background noise, he was located in Iceland where the wind was more then 3m/s.). I am going to post an update soon on Katla volcano.

  14. Jack @ Finland says:

    From EB: http://www.ruv.is/frett/svona-litur-jokullinn-ut

    The ash visible here is likely from the Grimsfjäll eruption.

  15. Dulux says:

    You never know Jon, it may have actually been the News of the World, preparing a scaremongering article for tomorrow’s last issue. The sound of the wind you heard was just the faint whistle of senior management running so fast out the door to protect their …. …. …. no need to say anymore :)

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  16. RonF says:

    Jon, I agree. Here’s my gut instinct, I fear this repose may change and that this was a small eruption that may have failed to break the surface. But conditions have changed substantially in the volcano such that the process of magma moving upward has started and can’t be stabilized inside the volcano and that this was a dress rehearsal for the next pulse of magma which will overwhelm the system containing it. It’s just getting started and it found the easiest pathway close to or at the surface and in the next phase, it will show more evidence it is fully awakening. If so, look for the tremors to persist at a low level for now (repose), but not abate. Then after a lull of hours/days as you suggest, it will start up again and we enter the next phase what ever that is. The monster has had a long deep sleep, but is slowly awakening and when he fully wakes up, he’s not going to be nice.

    I know things about pigeons Lilly

    • david says:

      So you think it is going to erupt soon? But soon can mean tomorrow or in 5 years. :D

      • RonF says:

        If it hasn’t erupted by end of this summer and going into fall/winter, I would be surprised myself. But that is just a gut instinct.

    • Jack @ Finland says:

      Same feeling here. I’m also thinking about the possibilities for an upcoming fissure eruption, a.k.a. Eldgja-style fire mountain show during the next decades (see my thoughts in earlier replies).

  17. New blog post is up!

  18. Brian H says:

    What is the legend for the coloured dots on the earthquake map? Magnitude? Timing?

    And who did the English translation? Yoda?
    Grammatical not is it.
    ;) ;p