Foreign Media Speculate on “Imminent” Katla Eruption Skip to content

Foreign Media Speculate on “Imminent” Katla Eruption

“If Iceland’s air-traffic paralysing volcanic eruption last year seemed catastrophic, just wait for the sequel,” starts the sensational article entitled “Iceland’s Katla volcano eruption ‘could be imminent’” published in the UK’s Guardian today.*


The eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. Photo by Bjarni Brynjólfsson.

The article mentions the continuous series of minor earthquakes that has occurred in Eyjafjallajökull’s neighboring volcano Katla since the glacial river Múlakvísl flooded in July, tearing a hole in the Ring Road, concluding that this much larger volcano might be preparing to erupt.

“It is definitely showing signs of restlessness,” confirmed Páll Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland.

As regularly reported on over the past months, the seismic activity in Katla is being monitored closely by scientists and civil defense authorities, as an eruption in Katla, which lies underneath the Mýrdalsjökull icecap, might flood the town of Vík.

The Guardian goes on to state that the longer pressure builds up in a volcano, the more catastrophic an eruption can be; the last major eruption in Katla was on October 12, 1918, exactly 93 years ago yesterday.

“We’ve been getting calls recently from people concerned that Katla is about to erupt because it erupted … in 1918 on 12 October,” Einar Kjartansson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told the newspaper.

“As scientists we don’t see that much of a correlation in the date but there is most definitely increased activity. The question is whether it calms down after this or whether there is an eruption.”

The article also discusses other volcanoes in Iceland, pointing out that even though there hasn’t been an eruption in the vicinity of Reykjavík for hundreds of years the capital sits on a plate boundary.

One of the plates is showing an uplift, or expansion of the crust, which could mean either that a volcano may be nearing an eruption or that there is an increase in geothermal activity.

“One of these days that situation will change and we will definitely see more eruptions close to Reykjavik,” Einarsson stated.

The article also mentions the positive aspects of living in a volcanically active area, such as geothermal energy. “Even Iceland’s most famous person, singer-songwriter Björk, has drawn from Iceland’s volatile geology for her new album, Biophilia,” it says.

The article concludes with a quote on a potential Katla eruption from Vík resident Thórir Kjartansson. “We’ve been waiting for it for a long time, and we know that it will come one day,” he said. “Until then, there’s no point in worrying about it.”

Click here to read the full article in the Guardian and here to read the latest report of seismic activity in Katla.


*The headline was later changed to: “Icelandic ash cloud part two? Scientists monitor rumblings of larger volcano” and minor changes were made to the intro.

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