OK, maybe the thought of a volcanic eruption capable of toppling the economies of nations is a bit dramatic, but, given the current teetering status of many of the European nations within the Eurozone, and given the history of a nearby Icelandic volcano named ‘Katla’, maybe it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a natural disaster of sufficient magnitude could begin the process of falling dominoes.
Remember way back in April of 2010 when a volcano in Iceland erupted and shut down air traffic across much of Europe for weeks? Well, another volcano nearby (Katla), which has always erupted within 1.5 years of it’s neighbor, has the potential to erupt TEN TIMES the magnitude of what we witnessed nearly a year and a half ago.
The last time Katla erupted was back in 1918. It was big time.
Lately, this volcano has been very active. Earthquake swarms and hydrothermal activity leave no doubt that this monster is about ready to do something. The question is, when it does, how bad will it be…
Reported in the ‘Iceland Review’ today, “Increased geothermal heat and seismic activity below Mýrdalsjökull glacier in south Iceland, which covers the volcano Katla, may indicate an upcoming eruption. Scientists are closely monitoring the volcano, although it is not certain whether an eruption is imminent.”
There is only one definite indication of an onset of an eruption in Katla. All sources on Katla eruptions over the past 500 years mention large earthquakes that can clearly be found a few hours before the eruption begins. That is in fact the only absolute warning.
Point is, we will only have a few hours warning, at best. Having said that, I believe we are being warned now, given Katla’s history (always within 1.5 years of Eyjafjallajokull) and the recent activity at the caldera.
From an insider today:
Never a dull moment! Katla activity was due to large hydrothermal activity. Low clouds stopped observers from seeing much but I can confirm that large cracks and new Calderon’s were observed to the southern end. We are now watching Katla even closer.
From a few days ago:
The last few days have seen increasing activity. Harmonic tremors followed by small quake storms (40 quakes in last 24 hours max 2.6 magnitude). Magnitude of quakes are low but it it clear that this definitely magma intrusion. What this means is the restriction on the magma is low and it is able to move through the bedrock without causing large quakes. This pattern may stop but can change very quickly. I still feel a large quake storm of mag 4+ would be needed for an eruption. This is not so for a fissure eruption but that’s just speculation. Inflation is still ongoing and although its very clear its building for an eruption BUT that could be a long way off yet. There is just no way of knowing. There is a theory that magma rises, causes inflation, rocks crack and are absorbed into the magma and this causes deflation.
Thanks to PT for the link
Katla Update, October 5, 2011
For the first time, the Katla volcano is generating lots of earthquakes in the vicinity of magnitude 3 and higher. This month marks the maximum period in which Katla has always erupted following an eruption of it’s neighbor, Eyja… (6 months to 1.5 years later). The current activity there certainly looks suspicious. We shall see…
(Icelandic Met Office) “There are presently no measurable signs that an eruption of Katla is imminent; however, given the heightened levels of seismicity, the situation might change abruptly.”