Katla volcano update at 10:48 UTC

This article is going to be updated as needed today (30-September-2016).

During the last 48 hours total of 261 earthquake has happened in Katla volcano when this is written. Largest earthquakes during the last 24 hours have the magnitude of 3,1 and 3,2. The largest earthquake had the magnitude of 3,6. Since there is no eruption currently there has not been any change in the harmonic tremor.

The earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The current earthquake activity started in end of August with the magnitude 4,5 and 4,6 earthquake activity. After doing a short review of the earthquake during this period I did see it. During this period the earthquake activity has been constant, but at lower lever then it is currently. There is now in my view a good chance that this is going to end in a eruption. It might not happen, but the odds are less in that outcome at the moment. Earthquake activity is pulsating, I don’t know why that happens. Same pattern was seen in Bárðarbunga volcano last year when magma was pushing it self through the crust until an eruption started. Currently the alert status for Katla volcano is green. Information can be found here.

Next update is going to be a few hours or soon as something interesting happens.

Update at 12:42 UTC

Colour code for Katla volcano has been upgraded to Yellow. Map can be found here.

Update at 15:35 UTC

When this is written the activity in Katla volcano has quieted down a little. This has happened several times during the last 48 hours so it might not mean anything. Large earthquakes happened at 12:07, a magnitude 3,6 and at 12:09 a magnitude 3,6. Earthquakes at 12:10 and 12:13 UTC where both magnitude 3,2. Some of the largest earthquakes have been felt in nearby populated areas (farms, not felt in Vík í Mýrdal far as I know). No harmonic tremor has been detected and that means an eruption has not yet started.

Green stars show the earthquakes with magnitude above 3,0 in Katla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The current earthquake activity is now showing up in a area that has the direction North-East and South-West. Suggesting that magma might break up in a fissure at this location if it can break up trough the crust. The other possibility is always that this just stops and nothing more happens. I’m not sure if that is going to be the result now.

Update at 19:06 UTC

Uncertainty level has been declared for Katla volcano and nearby area.

Update at 23:06 UTC

The road to Sólheimajökull glacier has been closed by the police until the current situation is over in Katla volcano. Currently the rate of earthquakes is low but earthquakes do continue to happen in the same area as before.

The earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Green stars are earthquakes with magnitude above 3,0. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

While the activity has slowed down the for moment I don’t think this is over, at least not until the earthquake activity completely stops for a long period of time. Currently the earthquake activity is back to the levels it was on after the magnitude 4,5 and 4,6 earthquakes on 29-August-2016. It might increase again without warning.

Article updated at 11:00 UTC. Added missing links.
Article updated at 12:42 UTC. Update added.
Article updated at 15:35 UTC. Updated added.
Article updated at 19:06 UTC. Updated added.

This entry was posted in Earthquakes, Katla / Mýrdalsjökull, Magma, Monitoring, Swarm, Volcano. Bookmark the permalink.

84 Responses to Katla volcano update at 10:48 UTC

  1. JB says:

    Rhyolite induced heating via crypto dome formation interacting with the sub glacial hydrothermal system…..;)

  2. Alberto says:

    It seems the earthquake activity is slowing down at the moment. It may just be a temporary lull before continuing in full force, or a bit more permanent calming down. Time will tell.

  3. Last series of earthquakes appeared on my geophone in Böðvarshólar (the largest earthquakes). Repair on the connection for the geophone at Heklubyggð is going to happen today (I hope).

  4. Luisport says:

    30.09.2016 12:10:55 63.619 -19.129 0.0 km 3.2 99.0 4.5 km NNW of Hábunga
    30.09.2016 12:09:18 63.623 -19.105 0.0 km 3.6 99.0 4.8 km N of Hábunga
    30.09.2016 12:07:37 63.620 -19.111 0.0 km 3.6 99.0 4.4 km N of Hábunga

    30.09.2016 12:02:36 63.625 -19.112 0.1 km 2.9 99.0 5.1 km N of Hábunga

  5. Ian W says:

    The katla swarm is now enough for IMO to raise the aviation code from green to yellow.

  6. a320er says:

    Aviation color code for Katla has been raised to yellow.

  7. Thoratzer says:

    Where can I see the seismograph data? preferably on a website in English

  8. Ιntersting any tremors on geophone?

    • Heklubyggð is not working, but since no eruption has started that answer would be no. Since tremor requires an eruption to have started or some other type of magma movement.

  9. Jonas Nilsson says:

    No tremor change. I think the tremor chart for, Austmannbunga and Godabunga shows real change the last days.

  10. Jonas Nilsson says:

    Maybe she will show that large tremor step just minutes before the eruption, when it gets rid of the ice. Bardarbunga had an fissure eruption with long magma travel.

  11. Z says:

    Conductivity in Múlakvísl river remains high, about 200μS/cm, which is a bit higher than yesterday.

  12. Kovich says:

    The end of the sismic swarm.

  13. Karen Jamieson says:

    No it isn’t, its still ongoing

  14. Tómas Veigar Sigurdarson says:


    This is an interesting website that shows the quakes in 3d.

  15. Current conductivity in Múlakvísk is now 201uS/cm. This is higher value then yesterday.

  16. Luisport says:


  17. Tómas Veigar Sigurdarson says:


    I wonder if we are seeing some tremor building up?

  18. Kovich says:

    strange that there is no inflation

    • Katla volcano has inflated much as possible already (if I understand papers on this subject from few years ago correctly). If more magma is flowing in at depth it might trigger an eruption in already over pressured system. I think that is happening now.

  19. Kovich says:

    Ok, but I see that the earthquake swarm is calming. Earthquakes are weaker

  20. Blog Islande says:

    So goood! Nice to see eruption of Katla, just hope that the wind will be south 🙂

  21. Randy says:

    I know nothing about volcano’s, but could it be that the pressure from underneath is causing the ice to crack causing the earthquakes? I also feel it is just a matter of time now until it erupts, and it probably will be a big one!

  22. Luisport says:

    Gisli Olafsson ‏@gislio 56 segHá 57 segundos San Francisco, CA
    Road towards Solheimajokull glacier – south of #Katla #volcano – closed. All trips onto the glacier forbidden at least until tomorrow.

  23. Jack McIlveen says:

    Looks like the last few quakes are in 10 to 15 minute pulses earlier they were coming as close as 2 or 3 minutes apart is this a sign its easing up?

  24. Luisport says:

    30.09.2016 20:54:38 63.642 -19.124 0.1 km 3.0 99.0 6.2 km E of Goðabunga

  25. a320er says:

    Quake activity picking up again.
    30.09.2016 20:54:38 63.642 -19.124 0.1 km 3.0 99.0 6.2 km E of Goðabunga

  26. Mike Ross says:

    My take on this – based mostly on my gut and background reading…

    1. Katla is pretty well inflated already; I’m not sure there’s room for much more. I wouldn’t necessarily look for a clear GPS or tilt signal to indicate an impending eruption.

    2. Based on historical accounts I would expect to see a lot more seismicity – and stronger locally-felt seismicity – in the run-up to a significant eruption.

    3. The seismicity so far has all been extremely shallow – at the depths the hydrothermal system (and Katla has a big one) is believed to exist; I would imagine it would have to migrate deeper if it progresses towards an eruption.

    4. So far as I know Katla tends to produce two kinds of eruption: very small subglacial ones where we’re not quite sure if it was an eruption or not – or pretty damn big ones that blast through the icecap in very short order. If you’re looking at the webcam and you’re asking the question: “Is that an eruption or just a cloud?” it’s NOT an eruption! If a proper Katla eruption occurs you’ll look at the webcam and say “Holy s**t! That looks like an atomic bomb!”

  27. Sander says:

    is it possible i see a time pattern of about 9.30 hours in the largest earthquakes?
    Can this be a result of the hydrothermal system releasing its energy?


  28. Karen says:

    Hi. Could this cause flight distributions like what happened a few years ago.

    • That depends on wind. But I don’t think an ash cloud from Katla is going to create a problem on the mainland. At least nothing compared to Eyjafjallajökull volcano ash cloud.

  29. Jack McIlveen says:

    Interesting much deeper this time : Saturday 01.10.2016 01:19:12 63.691 -19.293
    10.0 km 0.8 32.46 6.0 km NNW of Goðabunga

  30. zyfly says:

    I am searching for articles on the historical nature of Katla’s eruptions to gauge what we might see. I am interested in finding out the nature and extent of the types of gases that may be found in a future eruption. Also interested in how long the eruption might last. I know that the explosive phase of the eruption could last weeks or more in which prevalent air patterns may take fine ash over portions of northern and central Europe during the explosive phase. But from the reading quite a while ago I don’t recall Katla as historically having the types of gases and certainly not the volume of such that were found in the Laki 1783 eruption that lasted over 1.5 years. Just trying to gauge what a worse case scenario would be for Katla. Any links would be appreciated.

    • Tómas Veigar Sigurdarson says:


      Rather bad quality in this video, but many facts.

      Minute 2: A table with known eruptions. Max 120 days, min 13 days.

    • Henk Weijerstrass says:

      I read once – I think in the aftermath of the Eyja eruption of 2010 – that the ash of Katla is heavier then the ash of Eyja and that because of this, it’s less likely that it will cause the same disruption for air traffic as Eyja did. But I’m sure Jón can say more about the ash composition.

      • The ash from Katla volcano is almost or the same as in Grímsfjall volcano. The eruption 2011 in Grímsfjall volcano did not create a lot of flight delays or problems, some, but nothing major.

  31. Porsche928 says:

    Any new or deepening cauldrons (16, 10,11) seen yet?

  32. Jonas Nilsson says:

    A little lower activity now. Maybe a pause.

    • Adrian says:

      I think so. We will see today another mag 3.0+ earthquakes in my opinion. But if the volcano suddenly stop his activity I’ll be a little dissapointed. But I think nobody really wantto see the eruption. This volcano have a potential to making strong damage.

      • Adrian says:

        Another rainbow on webcam 🙂 Exactly like yesterday, another silence before the storm?

  33. Ailene says:

    ooh people on the mila katla cam lol

  34. Jen says:

    Well, did Katla just give us a sneakpeak into the future? And go back to rest for another while? Or will she pick up any time now? Questions, questions 😉 To bad that back in 1918 there was no technology to monitor her 😉 She has kept me attached to my monitor the past days!

  35. Irpsit says:

    Katla ash should be initially fine for 2-3 days and then more heavy for the remaining few weeks of a possible eruption. So airplane disruption in Europe is possible and should be expected for at least a week, then possibly minor degrees of disruption.

    Let´s remember that wind in 2010 played also a big factor, it persisted from north to south which was towards Europe, for quite a long time. Usually its not like this.

    In my opinion Katla is on the build-up for an eruption, and it could be within a couple of weeks. But we can´t be sure of this.

  36. William Gunning says:

    Jon you would nearly get the impression that things are settling down with the old girl again, or maybe just a rest before the next phase of the show.

    • The conductivity in Múlakvísl glacier river is high so I don’t think its over yet. When the earthquake activity continues I don’t know. It is impossible to know when or if this activity resumes in Katla volcano.

    • zyfly says:

      They are being prudent in warning the people of Lilliput that toes of Gulliver are being tickled and that his deep sleep may not last much longer and that he will be very angry when he wakes up. It’s a prudent reminder to renew your EQ plans with vigor rather than being lulled into complacency due to the lack of quakes over the last 10 years.

      Its dangerous to tickle his toes and although statistically there is only a 1% increase in chances he will wake up, this particular swarm with its larger quakes coming at this time makes Lilliput scientists very nervous. The swam in 2009 did not have the the magnitude and quantity that this swarm has. This is only 3-4 miles from the terminus of the SA. Also, its not so much the anticipated size of the SA as it is the soils and the nature of the valleys and mountains and critical infrastructure crossing the fault lines and how long the SA would shake for plus the possibility of adjacent faults being ruptured simultaneously. (The San Jacinto and Elsinore). Its interesting what is on Matt Drudges radar.

  37. Next update is going to take place later toady. I need a little time to gather all the information about what has been happening.

  38. William Gunning says:

    Thanks Jon at least with today’s technology we should be able to get a better idea if we get an eruption for future eruptions

  39. zyfly says:

    It took longer this time for Eyja to wake Katla up. Does this portend a larger Katla eruption (rhetorical)

  40. Dave says:

    Mmm…. She’s getting ready for a VEI 6…..

    • Eruption reaching VEI=6 are extremely rare in Iceland. Largest documented eruptions in Katla volcano (by estimation) have been VEI=5. They happened in the following years.


      Other eruptions have been either VEI=3 or 4. Few have been smaller.

      Source: http://volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=372030 (under “Eruptive History”.)

      • zyfly says:

        Per Wikipedia:
        “934 – VEI-5 or VEI-6, 5 cubic km of tephra and 18 cubic km of lava. The severe fissure eruption in 934 was one of the largest lava eruptions in the past 10,000 years”

        The link you provided shows that 934 was a VE4.

        Not sure what the source is for each article and which one has more scientific weight. This would require digging into the research on historical eruptions. I’ll see if I can find something.

  41. Earthquake swarm in Langjökull glacier, the south volcano. At the moment this is just a minor earthquake swarm.

  42. James says:

    A bit of activity picking up again at Katla too with a 2.6.

  43. William Gunning says:

    Jon this a long shot but could Katla and have the same problem as her little sister in 2010 and have a plug blocking her or would that be to far fetched? Just a thought.

  44. Ice Is Nice says:

    The last eruption of Katla in 2010, resulted in a puff of steam, a small ice bound lagoon and a smallish but significant flood. It’s way to soon to be talking V.E.I. anything.

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