Police Keep Tourists Away from Katla Skip to content

Police Keep Tourists Away from Katla

South Iceland Police are monitoring popular tourist areas around Mýrdalsjökull glacier in light of recent seismic activity in Katla volcano, and in case of an eruption, tourists will receive an SMS.

A Civil Protection Uncertainty phase was declared in the area yesterday, meaning that a course of events has started that may lead to a natural hazard in the near future. Authorities are mainly concerned about the possibility of a volcanic eruption or a glacial outburst flood, Vísir reports.

In case of a volcanic eruption, all cellular phones in the area will receive an SMS from the National Emergency Number, 112, both in Icelandic and English.

The road to Sólheimajökull glacier, which is a glacier tongue out of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, was closed last night and all trips to the glacier prohibited.

Víðir Reynisson, civil protection project manager for the South Iceland Police, explained that closing the road was mainly done as a precautionary measure, but in case of flooding, Sólheimajökull glacier would be a bad place to be in.

“Those craters can drain very fast,” he remarked, and even if a large flood is not likely, the steepness [of the craters] is so great.” In case of a flood, it would affect the hiking areas of the glacier. All organized trips to the glacier have been canceled for today.

Police are monitoring the area around the glacier, day and night. They covered the are overnight to see if tourists intended to spend the night there, in tents or RVs, and advised them to camp in safer areas.

Scientists find it likely that the recent series of earthquakes and tremors in the area is caused by the movement of magma in Katla volcano, but no eruption activity has yet been noticed.

There are three possible outcomes considered the likeliest:

The seismic activity could seize without consequence.

A glacial outburst flood could occur as a result of an eruption or the draining of craters.

A volcanic eruption could begin in Katla volcano, Mýrdalsjökull, bursting through the ice cap, leading to a glacial outburst flood in nearby rivers and an ash fall.

You can watch the web cam from Katla here.

The next meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection is planned for Monday.

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