January 5, 2013 – Mount Katla is a Sleeping Catastrophe: After watching part I of the PBS series on “Doomsday” volcanoes, I felt compelled to publish a piece on Mount Katla. Pictured above, is the very disruptive and ten times as big Mount Eyjafjallajokull; which paralyzed Europe in April 2010. Note: Jan-07-2013: This should read Katla is ten times as big – thanks Jim.
Iceland’s huge volcano Katla may be stirring into life after tell-tale signs of the potential for an eruption were monitored by observers. A harmonic tremor has been recorded for two days and small earthquakes have been confirmed at the volcano by the Icelandic Met Office. It is highly unusual for an eruption in Iceland to occur in the middle of winter but the early indications show Katla is building up power. Experts are unclear as to whether it is water or magma that is causing this week’s sudden increase in activity and the seismic recordings are currently lower than when the volcano first showed signs of a minor eruption last July. In September, Katla again stirred into life with a harmonic tremor and earthquakes in the volcano’s caldera – its magma chamber. Katla, which has not experienced a significant eruption for 93 years, is the second largest volcano on Iceland and the consequences of a major eruption will be felt across Europe.
In 2010, the country’s president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (pictured below), warned “the time for Katla to erupt is coming close, Iceland has prepared and it is high time for European governments and airline authorities all over Europe and the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption.”
It is believed Katla, named after a vindictive troll of Viking folklore, has the potential to be much stronger and disruptive than the last two Icelandic volcanic eruptions that caused chaos across Europe’s air space, grounding flights and closing airports. Katla is much larger than its neighboring Eyjafjallajokull; which erupted in 2010 – with a magma chamber about 10 times the size. Volcanologists warn that if Katla does erupt, the combination of the magma and the large ice sheet covering the volcano could lead to explosive activity and an ash plume for weeks, if not months. The Iceland Volcanic Eruptions, between 1783 and 1784, Killed Six Million People World-Wide. During that time period, a series of large volcanic eruptions occurred along the Laki Fissure Zone, roughly from Mount Katla and extending northeast to Mount Grimsvotn. Is Katla getting ready for a rerun of that horrific event? Originally published Feb. 21, 2012. (Credits: Top – Google Images, Middle – USGS, Bottom – Bing Images)
The Master of Disaster