All Quiet on the Katla Glacier Following Yesterday’s Quakes

Katla volcano

No significant earthquakes were registered in the vicinity of the Katla caldera last night. A natural hazards expert at the Icelandic MET Office has told RÚV that it is “impossible to say” whether yesterday’s three earthquakes were an isolated event or the beginning of something bigger.

Road to the Katla Glacier closed

The Katla caldera in South Iceland has calmed down significantly since the earthquake swarm yesterday morning. Seismic activity began to diminish significantly yesterday afternoon, with only a single small tremor having been recorded since midnight, RÚV reports.

Kristín Elísa Guðmundsdóttir, a Natural Hazards expert at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told RÚV that it was “impossible to say” yet whether yesterday’s earthquakes were an isolated event or the start of something bigger: both possibilities must be kept open.

The National Commissioner’s office declared an uncertainty phase after the earthquake swarm yesterday; three earthquakes over M4 were recorded yesterday morning. The road to the Katla glacier has been closed and travellers are advised to keep their distance from the glacier’s roots.

As noted by RÚV, the earthquakes were likely caused by hydro or geothermal energy as opposed to the movement of magma. The quakes originated in the watershed area of the Múlakvíslar river. According to Kristín, however, there is currently no indication of an imminent run. “We are not seeing much change in Múlakvísl. The electrical conductivity is not high,” Kristín observed.

Activity in Mýrdalsjökull may be accompanied by gas pollution, RÚV notes.

“So there is absolutely every reason for people to exercise caution if they are near the glacier. There is an uncertainty phase in force at the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, and people are advised not to hike on the Katla Glacier. It is both because of the gas, which can be very dangerous, but also because we cannot be sure that something else will happen.”

The Icelandic MET Office is on duty 24 hours a day and monitors the situation closely, Kristín added.