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Iceland’s Katla Volcano – 6 months later

November 17, 2010, by Ken Jorgustin



Having begun monitoring the activity at the Katla volcano exactly six months ago, it’s a good time to look back at the statistics.

Following the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, I began keeping an eye on its neighbor, Katla, which has historically erupted not long afterward, the longest time span being 1.5 years afterward.

It has now been six months and one-third of the time has ticked by. No one can say for sure if history will repeat itself, but often times it does, so it makes good sense to know history and to try and be prepared.

If you recall, Eyjafjallajokull caused some fairly significant problems in Europe back in April due to its ash cloud causing major airports (Heathrow) to close, which in turn rippled through economies. The overall disruption lasted several weeks, but we got through it okay since the eruption was not severe.

However, Katla is about ten times more powerful than Eyjafjallajokull and will surely cause bigger problems if and when it erupts next. Although we cannot do anything about the eventual outcome, we can prepare in some ways, particularly those that live near by. Breathing masks and some extra food and water would make good preparedness sense.

History reveals that when Katla erupted during 1700, world temperatures dropped to a point which caused the Mississippi river in the US to freeze north of New Orleans. So, Katla could very likely affect more people than just Europeans in the vicinity.

During the six months that I’ve kept track of earthquakes at the Myrdalsjokull glacier where Katla lies underneath, there have been 495 earthquakes while 100 earthquakes occurred at or within the volcano caldera itself.

The frequency of occurrence has been fairly steady for the most part, although there were several periods of time when the activity became exciting.

The average number of earthquakes per day has been about 3. Katla is definitely awake and active, but until we start seeing swarms of earthquakes, it is business as usual.

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