Katla volcano, located near the southern end of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone, is hidden beneath the Myrdalsjökull icecap. Katla is one of Iceland's most active and most dangerous volcanoes, infamous for its large eruptions happening on average every 50-100 year, causing devastating glacial floods (jökullhlaups).
In recent year, increased seismicity and inflation of Katla has been being measured. Katla, statistically due for a new eruption, is being very closely monitored and an eruption in a not too distant future would not come as a big surprise.
subglacial volcano 1512 m / 4,961 ft
Southern Iceland, 63.63°N / -19.06°W Katla volcano eruptions:
920 AD, 950 AD (?), 1150, 1177, 1245, 1262, 1311, 1357, 1416, 1440, 1450, 1500, 1580, 1612, 1625, 1660-61, 1721, 1755-56, 1823, 1860, 1918, 1955(?), 1999(?), 1918 Typical eruption style: Explosive basaltic and dacitic eruptions, voluminous lava flows
Katla webcams / live data Last earthquakes nearby
Depth and magnitude of quakes near Katla during August
As can be seen from our new plots of recent nearby quakes, the number of earthquakes near Katla appears to have been gradually increasing during August. However, most quakes are very shallow and probably NOT caused by magmatic movements, but adjustments of the shallow hydrothermal system. A possibility is that this is a seasonal pattern caused by the warming and increased melting of ice during summer. ...more
To watch out for, when trying to anticipate a new eruption, would be earthquake swarms at some depth (5-20 km) that become shallower. [less]
Another seismic swarm has occurred at Katla volcano yesterday. About 30 small quakes at shallow depths mostly between 1 and 6 km in the central part of the caldera were recorded and could indicate another intrusion or changes in the hydrothermal system.
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 5-7 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
A new swarm of earthquakes has started Tuesday (5 June) evening at Katla volcano. Until now, 34 quakes up to magnitude 2 have been recorded beneath the volcano, at mostly shallow depths around 3-7 km. The quakes are clustered in the SE part of the caldera, and could indicate that a magmatic intrusion is taking place in this area. Whether this is a precursor to a possible eruption of the volcano remains speculation.
Small earthquake swarm at Katla volcano during 28-29 May 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
A swarm of 14 small to very small mostly very shallow quakes occurred at Katla volcano yesterday and today. Epicenter depths were reported between 0.1 and 12.2 km. Judging from the depth and magnitude of the quakes, the most likely cause for the seismic swarm are adjustments of the hydrothermal system under the icecap, and probably not magmatic intrusions (which would be possible indicators of a future new eruption). ...more
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 15 May 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Katla volcano continues to show signs of increased unrest. A small glacial flood occurred from under the volcano's icecap Katla around 28 April 2012 and possibly again around 7-8 May, both times accompanied by increased levels of harmonic tremor. This suggests that magma movements inside the volcano might be heating up the ground, causing increased melting. ...more
A small seismic swarm at depths of 1-2 kim occurred yesterday 15 May. [less]
Jón Frímann on his dedicated blog about Icelandic (and not only) volcanoes closely follows what is happening there: a cluster of minor earthquakes has been showing up under the Katla volcano caldera. This has been following a gradual increase in seismic activity under Katla during the past few weeks. It could be a signal of new volcanic activity to be expected on a timescale of few weeks to months. A new eruption would probably be heralded by a strong seismic swarm, and could start and build up rapidly. It did so in July 2011 when a sudden increase in earthquake activity occurred and there was an small eruption without warning.
Volcanic tremor (a low frequency vibration often caused by magma rising to the surface) has been observed under Katla volcano in southern Iceland, Jón Frímann reports on his Iceland volcanoes blog (see below), closely following seismic activity in Iceland recorded both by national instruments and his own private geophone network. ...more
According to Jón, there are 2 possible explanations: one could simply be an increase in hydrothermal activity in the northern part of Katla volcano. The second could be magma movements at depth although there have been no significant earthquakes that usually would accompany an intrusion or small (sub-glacial) eruption, although this still could occur in the near future as often observed in the past during similar episodes of tremor followed by earthquakes. [less]
Recent earthquakes beneath Katla and Hekla volcanoes (Icelandic Met Office)
Time and depth of recent quakes
Two of Iceland's most known and active volcanoes are showing signs of unrest. Another seismic swarm (after the last one around 3 Feb) occurred at Katla volcano yesterday, although it was weaker than the previous ones. Most likely, the swarm was caused by another shallow dike injection (magma intrusion) beneath the crater, confirming the ongoing unrest at the volcano. ...more
A small, but very shallow 1.2 magnitude quake happened beneath the summit of Hekla volcano at just 100 m. [less]
Seismicity in Iceland during the past 2 days (Icelandic Met Office)
Small seismic swarms have occurred near Katla volcano (S Iceland), Henggil volcano (SW Iceland) and a weaker swarm near Askja (N-Central Iceland) during the past 48 hours. The cause of the swarms is unclear and their intensity is not alarming. They are not necessarily volcanic, but could related to tectonic stress release around the main Icelandic rift zones.
Signs of unrest beneath Katla, one of Iceland's most active volcanoes continue. A seismic swarm was recorded under the northern part of Katla volcano's caldera beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in southern Iceland over the past 48 hours. 35 quakes of up to 3.2 magnitude, many at shallow depths, occrred mostly in the afternoon of 27 Oct.
A mew seismic swarm is occurring at Katla volcano, with over 60 small earthquakes of magnitudes of up to 2.6 at 1-8 km depth beneath the caldera since Sunday. It could be a possibility that this swarm is caused by the injection of magma at depth, but could also be due to structural displacements. It is unclear whether the recent signs of unrest at Katla are the precursors of a new eruption in a near to medium future.
Katla volcano, hidden under the large Mýrdalsjökull glacier in Southern Iceland, located just east of Eyafjallajökull volcano, is showing signs of unrest. In the past 48 hours, 8 earthquakes have occured under the ice cap, which could be a a sign towards a reawakening of the volcano which last erupted in 1918 and is considered overdue. Katla's eruptions are normally accompanied by large and extremely destructive glacier floods, so-called jökulhlaups. ...more
Although too early to send an eruption warning, the Icelandic authorities are monitoring the activity under Katla carefully. [less]
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