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Katla volcano
subglacial volcano 1512 m / 4,961 ft
Southern Iceland, 63.63°N / -19.06°W
Current status: restless (2 out of 5)
Katla webcams / live data
Katla volcano books | Tours
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
Last earthquakes nearby
Latest satellite images

Katla volcano current activity & updates

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
In recent days, the number of quakes has been slightly elevated at Katla.
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)
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:

Earthquakes under Katla during the past 7 days
Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016
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. ... [more]
Earthquakes under Katla volcano during the past 48 hours (image: IMO)
Monday, Aug 29, 2016
At least one earthquake of magnitude 4.5 occurred this morning under the volcano, the strongest recorded for Katla in recent decades. It was felt in nearby areas. ... [more]
Location and time vs depth of recent earthquakes under Katla volcano
Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
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. ... [more]
Epicenters of earthquakes at Katla during the past 7 days
Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014
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. ... [more]
Depth and magnitude of quakes near Katla during August
Thursday, Aug 23, 2012
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]
Friday, Aug 17, 2012
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. [more]
Friday, Jun 22, 2012
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. [more]
Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 5-7 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Thursday, Jun 07, 2012
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. [more]
Small earthquake swarm at Katla volcano during 28-29 May 2012 (Icelandic Met Office)
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
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]

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