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Katla volcano current activity & updates

Katla volcano (Southern Iceland): continuous seismic swarm may trigger glacial flood, jökulhlaup warning

Di, 18. Okt 2022, 04:57
04:57 AM | VON: MARTIN
Distribution of earthquakes beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier, blue lines refer to water/drainage divides, MY signs refer to cauldrons (image: Kristín Jónsdóttir)
Distribution of earthquakes beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier, blue lines refer to water/drainage divides, MY signs refer to cauldrons (image: Kristín Jónsdóttir)
A swarm of small earthquakes has been occurring beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier covering Katla volcano over the past 2 days.
The most of events have been registered with a magnitude less than M 3 and only a couple of them exceeded M 3.
From the embedded image below, the current seismic activity has been taking place in the proximity of ice cauldrons numbered 10, 11 and 12.
In case a glacial flood will happen, the meltwater makes it into Múlakvísl river.
The seismic swarm is located in an area of persistent geothermal heat sources that leads to melting overlying ice and subsiding the ice sheet.

Katla volcano (Iceland): earthquake yesterday

Fr, 4. Sep 2020, 08:13
08:13 AM | VON: MARTIN
Earthquake detected near the Katla caldera yesterday (image: Volcano Discovery)
Earthquake detected near the Katla caldera yesterday (image: Volcano Discovery)
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) recorded an earthquake with magnitude M 3.1 that occurred at 12:39 local time yesterday located in the northeastern part of the Katla caldera near Austmannsbunga.
Few smaller aftershocks were detected but no volcanic tremor has been recorded.
Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 4 September 2020

Katla volcano (Iceland): earthquake today

Do, 23. Jul 2020, 09:05
09:05 AM | VON: MARTIN
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) recorded an earthquake with magnitude M 3.3 that occurred at 05:36 local time this morning. Another earthquake with magnitude M 2.7 occurred at 01:59 local time today. Few smaller earthquakes have also been detected.
Increased seismic activity at the volcano has been measured during the past years.
Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 23 July 2020
Increased earthquake activity
Update Thu 22 Jun 2017 16:38
Recent earthquakes under Katla volcano as of 22 June 2017, showing two small swarms  (image: Icelandic Met Office)
Recent earthquakes under Katla volcano as of 22 June 2017, showing two small swarms (image: Icelandic Met Office)
Over the past days, seismic activity under the large ice-covered volcano has increased. It seems likely that at least some of this activity is caused by injections of new magma into the volcano's system, as some earthquakes were detected at depths between 10 and up to 25 km where no normal tectonic activity that could be triggering the earthquakes is expected.
Most earthquakes in the recent swarms were tiny, with only 5 quakes during the past week above magnitude 3 (the largest being a 3.6 event on Tuesday).
For the time being, the observed activity seems small and probably does not mean that a new eruption of Katla is imminent.
Magnitude 4.3 earthquake, increased seismic activity
Update Sat 28 Jan 2017 11:19
Recent earthquakes under Katla volcano as of 26 Jan 2017 (image: Icelandic Met Office)
Recent earthquakes under Katla volcano as of 26 Jan 2017 (image: Icelandic Met Office)
Seismic activity has increased at the volcano. A magnitude 4.3 earthquake occurred under the volcano on 26 Jan at shallow depth beneath the summit caldera covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
Scientists now believe that the increased seismic activity indicates that the volcano is more likely to erupt in the near to medium term future compared to some years ago, but it is impossible to make any precise predictions.
Icelandic authorities are increasing their surveillance of the volcano, which is one of the country's largest and most active, with potentially devastating eruptions due to the hazard of catastrophic glacial floods.
Earthquakes under SE part of caldera
Update Thu 05 Jan 2017 09:55
Recent quakes under Katla volcano in Iceland (image: IMO)
Recent quakes under Katla volcano in Iceland (image: IMO)
Magnitude vs time distribution of recent quakes at Katla (IMO)
Magnitude vs time distribution of recent quakes at Katla (IMO)
An increased number of earthquakes has been occurring at shallow depths (few km) under the SW part of the ice-covered volcano's caldera.
The largest event was a near-surface magnitude 3.5 event 3.9 km ESE of Goðabunga at 07:09 local time this morning. Whether the quakes are volcanic in origin (a swarm caused by magma intrusion) or caused by adjustments of the glacier's weight (or likely both) is unknown.

Katla has been on elevated alert since Oct 2016 when an intense seismic swarm occurred that triggered fears the volcano might erupt again soon (its last eruption dating back to 1918 and it is thought to be statistically "overdue").
The seismic swarm in Sep / Oct 2016 had been the largest in recent decades. It began on 29 Sep 2016, increased on 30 Sep with several quakes of magnitudes of 3 and higher, and lasted until early October.
Volcanic tremor was also detected, suggesting that it had been caused by intruding magma inside the volcano.
Volcano remains restless; increased melt water and H2S concentrations
Update Wed 31 Aug 2016 17:12
Following Monday's large earthquakes, the volcano remains relatively calm seismically, with only small swarms of deep to shallow earthquakes occurring under the northern flank. According to experts, there is currently no sign of an eruption being imminent.
Icelandic authorities are aware of the potential danger the next eruption of Katla represents (whether it occurs in the next months or only decades from now). A delegation of the volcanologists from the Icelandic Met Office was invited to discuss with a committee of the Icelandic Parliament about how to respond in case of an eruption.
The biggest hazard are large-scale, potentially catastrophic glacial floods when an eruption occurs, which is likely going to be subglacial, as a result of rapid melting of ice by magma. A fast and wide-spread evacuation of all river beds draining from the Katla massif and alternative routes are likely a major topic in such plans.

During the past days, an increase in glacial water into the Múlakvísl river, south of Mýrdalsjökull, has been detected. The river water has a strongly elevated content in hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and people are advised not to travel near the river due to gas pollution.
Such events are not uncommon, especially at the end of the summer and not necessarily related to magma movements inside the volcano.
Earthquakes under Katla during the past 7 days
Earthquakes under Katla during the past 7 days
Small earhquakes
Update Wed 16 Jul 15:14
Location and time vs depth of recent earthquakes under Katla volcano
Location and time vs depth of recent earthquakes under Katla volcano
An increased number of small earthquakes, up to magnitude 2.7, has been occurring near the surface or at very shallow depths under Katla's ice cap since yesterday.
These quakes are most likely related to weight adjustments of the thick ice cap during the ongoing seasonal melting and unlikely to represent a true seismic swarm caused by (internal) volcanic activity.
In the meanwhile, the alert (uncertainty level) for the areas around rivers from the Mýrdalsjökull glacier has been cancelled by Iceland authorities.
Increased earthquake activity, uncertainty level declared
Update Wed 09 Jul 09:37
Epicenters of earthquakes at Katla during the past 7 days
Epicenters of earthquakes at Katla during the past 7 days
Depth & magnitude vs time of earthquakes under Katla
Depth & magnitude vs time of earthquakes under Katla
Earthquakes have been more frequent recently under the volcano recently. Most of them were small (below mag. 3) and shallow events. It is unknown whether these relate to magmatic movements inside the volcano, increased hydrothermal activity or are adjustments of the ice cap due to increased melting.
The government has declared "Uncertainty level" for Katla volcano yesterday. The largest hazard comes in the form of melt-water floods and sulfurous volcanic gasses dissolved in and released from glacial rivers.
People are advised not to stop at Múlakvísl and Jökulsá and other glacier river valleys and keep cell phones turned on in order to be able to receive potential SMS alerts.
Currently, there are no signs of an impending eruption at Katla.
Increasing number of earthquakes at Katla ?
Update Thu 23 Aug 20:30
Depth and magnitude of earthquakes beneath Katla volcano 1-23 August
Depth and magnitude of earthquakes beneath Katla volcano 1-23 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.
To watch out for, when trying to anticipate a new eruption, would be earthquake swarms at some depth (5-20 km) that become shallower.
Small earthquake swarm at Katla
Update Fri 17 Aug 18:53
A small swarm of quakes has been going on at Katla since yesterday. So far, 10 quakes have occurred today, including a M2.8 quake at 1.8 km depth 6.8 km E of Goðabunga.
Recent quakes at Katla (red and orange dots=past 48 hrs)
Recent quakes at Katla (red and orange dots=past 48 hrs)
Slightly elevated number of quakes under Katla
Update Sun 12 Aug 17:42
Map and location of recent quakes under Katla (Icelandic Met Office)
Map and location of recent quakes under Katla (Icelandic Met Office)
Table of recent quakes under Katla (Icelandic Met Office)
Table of recent quakes under Katla (Icelandic Met Office)
In recent days, the number of quakes has been slightly elevated at Katla.
Weak seismic swarm on 25 June
Update Mon 25 Jun 19:03
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 24 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 24 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Another swarm of very weak and shallow (around 1 km) quakes took place under the Katla volcano caldera on Sunday 24 June.
New seismic swarm under Katla volcano caldera on 21 June
Update Fri 22 Jun 11:30
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 21 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 21 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
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.
Shallow earthquake swarm under Katla's southern caldera continues
Update Sat 09 Jun 12:20
The earthquake swarm under the southern part of the icecap of Katla volcano that had started on 5 June continues with 30 more quakes recorded during the past 48 hours.
The quakes are mostly very small, but a few were between magnitude 2 and 3, and most are located at shallow depths of less than 5 km.
For the list of latest quakes go to the Icelandic Met Office website.
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 7-9 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 7-9 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)

News entries:

Di, 18. Okt 2022, 04:57

Katla volcano (Southern Iceland): continuous seismic swarm may trigger glacial flood, jökulhlaup warning

Distribution of earthquakes beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier, blue lines refer to water/drainage divides, MY signs refer to cauldrons (image: Kristín Jónsdóttir)
A swarm of small earthquakes has been occurring beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier covering Katla volcano over the past 2 days. ... Read all
Fr, 4. Sep 2020, 08:13

Katla volcano (Iceland): earthquake yesterday

Earthquake detected near the Katla caldera yesterday (image: Volcano Discovery)
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) recorded an earthquake with magnitude M 3.1 that occurred at 12:39 local time yesterday located in the northeastern part of the Katla caldera near Austmannsbunga. ... Read all
Do, 23. Jul 2020, 09:05

Katla volcano (Iceland): earthquake today

The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) recorded an earthquake with magnitude M 3.3 that occurred at 05:36 local time this morning. Another earthquake with magnitude M 2.7 occurred at 01:59 local time today. Few smaller earthquakes have also been detected. ... Read all
Mi, 26. Jul 2017, 06:00

Katla volcano (Iceland) - Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 26 July-1 August 2017 (New Activity / Unrest)

On 29 July the Iceland Met Office (IMO) reported that a glacial outburst flood (jökulhlaup) in the Múlakvísl river, SE of Katla, had begun, and a M 3 earthquake along with a few smaller earthquakes were located in the N part of the caldera. Nearby seismic stations detected tremor possibly linked to the flood, though a subglacial volcanic component was not ruled out. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow, the second highest level on a four-color scale. ... Read all
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Katla Vulkan
subglacial volcano 1512 m / 4,961 ft
Southern Iceland, 63.63°N / -19.06°W
Aktueller Status: normal / ruhend (1 von 5) Ausbrüche des Katla:
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
Typische Aktivität
Explosive basaltic and dacitic eruptions, voluminous lava flows
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