Powerful Earthquake Swarm in Bárðarbunga

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Iceland Magazine Article: Powerful earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga: 3.6 magnitude quake early this morning

 

A sharp earthquake swarm was detected in Bárðarbunga caldera early this morning.

The largest quake of 3.6 magnitude, took place at 06:56, was later followed by more than a dozen smaller quakes.

The epicentre of the quakes was in the North Eastern part of the caldera.

 

Bárðarbunga caldera is located under Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland’s largest ice cap.

An eruption can trigger massive floods known as “jökulhlaup” – massive glacial outburst floods, which can carry ice blocks and rocks large enough to destroy bridges and roads,

Glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum may be significantly affected only hours after its inception, which would make Dettifoss even more massive….

 

Measurements by the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) have recorded constant activity in Bárðarbunga over the weekend, with nearly 90 quakes being detected in the past 48 hours.

The main Bárðarbunga caldera has been showing increasing levels of activity for the past year or so, following the 2014-2015 Bárðarbunga / Holuhraun eruption, at the northern edge of the Bárðarbunga system.

 

 

Also. a second powerful quake was recorded over the weekend: 3.2 magnitude quake on the Reykjanes ridge, just off the coast of Reykjanes peninsula.

 

 

Read More:

Continued Rumblings in Bárðarbunga

Katla, Hekla & Bárðarbunga Earthquake Activity

Iceland Major Volcanoes Exhibit Unusual High Activity Levels

Recent activity in Bárðarbunga volcano continues with 3.9 magnitude quake

Quick primer on Bárðarbunga, Iceland’s most powerful volcano

An eruption in Bárðarbunga will trigger massive floods

Bárðarbunga volcano: An animation showing the 1.400 earthquakes during the first 48 hours

Why the constant earthquakes? Iceland is slowly being torn apart 

 

 

Potential Consequences

ICE2017 Team continues to keep a close eye on developments of these recent activity, as it may influence planning / execution of our adventure.

Maybe we will have the opportunity to experience an earthquake and / or a live volcanic eruption (at a safe distance…).

 

 

 

 

Continued Rumblings in Bárðarbunga

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Iceland Magazine Article: Continued rumblings in massive volcano Bárðarbunga

 

Three relatively strong earthquakes shook Bárðarbunga caldera in quick succession yesterday morning.

According to National Broadcasting Service RÚV, two magnitude 3.2 quakes hit at 09:49 & 09:53, 01 July 2017.

Only one minute later a magnitude 3.6 earthquake hit the caldera.

In total, five earthquakes over magnitude 2 were registered yesterday morning, according to RÚV.

 

Read More: Recent activity in Bárðarbunga volcano continues with 3.9 magnitude quake

 

The area has experienced increased geological activity in recent weeks.

Last weekend, a magnitude 3.9 earthquake shook the caldera.

Over seventy earthquakes had been documented in the volcano the week before.

 

 

Bárðarbunga is one of the two largest and most powerful volcanoes in Iceland.

There has been constant seismic activity there, ever since the Holuhraun eruption of 2014-15.

 

According to Icelandic Met Office there are no signs of eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano, but
“it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission”.

Bárðarbunga caldera is located under Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland’s largest ice cap.

An eruption can trigger massive floods known as “jökulhlaup” – massive glacial outburst floods, which can carry ice blocks and rocks large enough to destroy bridges and roads,

Glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum may be significantly affected only hours after its inception, which would make Dettifoss even more massive….

 

 

Potential Consequences

ICE2017 Team continues to keep a close eye on developments of these recent activity, as it may influence planning / execution of our adventure.

Maybe we will have the opportunity to experience an earthquake and / or a live volcanic eruption (at a safe distance…).

 

 

Read More:

Quick primer on Bárðarbunga, Iceland’s most powerful volcano
An eruption in Bárðarbunga will trigger massive floods
Bárðarbunga volcano: An animation showing the 1.400 earthquakes during the first 48 hours

Iceland Major Volcanoes Exhibit Unusual High Activity Levels

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Iceland Magazine Article: All of Iceland‘s major volcanoes showing unusually high levels of activity

Growing seismic activity in the major volcanic systems of Iceland has put scientists and civil protection authorities on alert.

While there are no signs of immediate eruption in any of the major volcanic systems, growing seismic activity, growing geothermal activity
and the expansion of the crust in these systems indicates they are all in an unusually active phase.

Iceland has at least 30 active volcanic systems, all of which are under constant observation by scientists.

The four most active volcanoes and volcanic systems in Iceland are Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn (both of which are located beneath Vatnajökull glacier),
Katla (which is hidden under Mýrdalsjökull glacier) and the cone volcano Hekla in South Iceland.

Each has shown increasing signs of growing activity in the past few months (Páll Einarsson (Geophysicist) told Fréttablaðið).

 

 

Katla

Katla, Mýrdalsjökull
Photo/Vilhelm
Katla caldera is located beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
It is 30 km (18.6 miles) across and covered with 700 m (0.4 mile) thick ice cap.

Katla has been particularly active in the past few months. Several large earthquakes have taken place in the caldera, the latest a 4.3 magnitude earthquake last Thursday.
“Katla is more active during some years, and some years she is less active. This past year, since last fall, has been one of the more active years, even if it has yet to set any records.”

Read More: Eruption in giant volcano Katla grows more likely. Tourism poses challenges for evacuation

Last week, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management board of scientists, said that the growing activity raised concerns and recommended increased monitoring.

Historically, Katla has erupted very regularly with 60-80 years between eruptions, on average.
The last eruption took place in 1918, making Katla long overdue for an eruption.

 

 

Hekla

 

One of the most active volcanoes in Iceland, Hekla in South Iceland, is also overdue for an eruption.

The cone volcano has erupted on average every ten years.
The last eruption took place in 2000.

Measurements showed that the magma chambers of Hekla were quickly filling up this past summer 2016, indicating the mountain was potentially ready to blow any time.

Páll Einarsson (Geophysicist) told Fréttablaðið that Hekla did not show immediate signs of eruption, but added that eruptions in Hekla tend to begin without any warning.
However, all measurements show growing pressures building up in the magma chambers of Hekla.

 

 

 

Bárðarbunga

Photo/Iceland MagazineBoth large volcanoes (Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn) beneath Vatnajökull have shown increasing activity in the past months.Powerful earthquakes in Bárðarbunga, the largest and most powerful volcanic system in Iceland, indicate the magma chambers beneath the main caldera are quickly filling up after the 2014-15 Holuhraun eruption.

The latest major seismic episode in Bárðarbunga registered 4.3 and 4.0 magnitude quakes, hitting the eastern part of the main caldera.

Read More:  Powerful earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano: 4.3 and 4.0 magnitude quakes

History suggests that volcanic activity in the Bárðarbunga system comes in drawn-out episodes, each lasting several years.

If this holds up, the 2014-15 Holuhraun eruption will likely be followed by further eruptions.

 

 

Grímsvötn

Grímsvötn 2011 eruption
Grímsvötn ash plume rising from the 2011 eruption
Photo/Egill Aðalsteinsson

 

The fourth major volcano showing growing activity is Grímsvötn, located beneath Vatnajökull, to the south of Bárðarbunga.Eruptions in Grímsvötn are quite common, erupting on average once every seven years in the past.

The last eruptions took place in 1998, 2004 and 2011.Páll Einarsson (Geophysicist) told Fréttablaðið that the volcano was showing growing seismic activity.
“Growing seismic activity points to an eruption in the next few years.”

 

 

Varying Levels of Danger

All of these potential volcanic eruptions, are likely to pose significant risks to people.

An eruption in Katla would create glacial outburst floods which threaten areas where large numbers of people can be expected to be located at any time, including the village of Vík in south Iceland, but also on the black sand beaches of Sólheimasandur where the DC-3 airplane wreckage draws large numbers of visitors every day.

Eruptions in these volcanoes could also create massive ash plumes which could pose danger to air traffic.

 

 

Potential Consequences

ICE2017 Team continues to keep a close eye on developments of these recent activity, as it may influence our planning for this years adventure.

Maybe we will have the opportunity to experience a live volcanic eruption.

Katla Volcano – More Powerful Earthquakes

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Iceland Magazine Article: Giant volcano Katla hit with a powerful 4.3 magnitude earthquake

 

 

Yesterday afternoon, a powerful 4.2 magnitude earthquake was detected in the centre of the Katla caldera.

The powerful earthquake which hit the subglacial volcano, was followed by a second 3.0 magnitude earthquake one minute later,
and a dozen smaller quakes, according to IMO (Icelandic Meteorological Office): Iceland Earthquakes last 48 Hours.

 

Mýrdalsjökull 26.1.17

Figure: Mýrdalsjökull Earthquakes in past 48 hours: January 26, 2017. Photo/IMO

 

Yesterdays powerful earthquakes, follows a wave of activity in the past couple of weeks.
On Monday and Tuesday, the volcano registered several large earthquakes, following a wave of activity at the beginning of January 2017.

 

Read More: The volcano Katla continues to tremble: Three powerful earthquakes since yesterday

 

Katla, which is hidden beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier, competes with the giant volcano Bárðarbunga, located beneath Vatnajökull glacier, for the title of Iceland’s most powerful and dangerous volcano. It is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, and whilst it is somewhat less powerful than Bárðarbunga, an eruption in Katla could pose greater threats to civilians, not least due to glacial flooding caused by a sub-glacial volcanic eruption, but also the challenges posed by the ash cloud generated by such an eruption.

 

Read More: News Report: Are the earthquakes in Katla, Iceland’s most notorious volcano, precursors to an imminent eruption?

 

According to IMO (Icelandic Meteorological Office) there are no signs of increased volcanic activity.
The volcano is under constant close supervision, as the volcano has erupted regularly, every 60-80 years.
The last eruption took place in 1918, making Katla long overdue for an eruption.

 

 

Potential Consequences:

ICE2017 Team continues to keep a close eye on developments of these recent activity, as it may influence our planning for this years adventure.
Maybe we will have the opportunity to experience a live volcanic eruption.

Katla Volcanic Activity Continues

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Iceland Magazine Article: Katla volcano in Mýrdalsjökull glacier stirs, 3.2 magnitude earthquake hit yesterday
A powerful 3.2 magnitude earthquake was detected in the Katla caldera beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier last night (29.11.2016) at 19:55.

 

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) detected a second smaller quake (magnitude 2.7 on the Richter Scale), which shook the caldera immediately following the larger quake. A swarm of smaller earthquakes were then detected in the caldera following.

Last night’s earthquake swarm is the latest in a series of quakes in Katla and Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

Last week saw more than 80 quakes in Mýrdalsjökull. However, most were relatively minor.
The largest was a 2.8 magnitude quake in the eastern part of the caldera.

 

Read More: News Report: Are the earthquakes in Katla, Iceland’s most notorious volcano, precursors to an imminent eruption?

 

Katla is under constant monitoring by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, which has a tightly knit net of measurement posts on Mýrdalsjökull glacier to detect the smallest shifts in the volcano. Bergur H. Bergsson, a seismologist at the IMO recently told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that every time the volcano stirred, the IMO moved in to check it’s monitoring posts, ensuring the net was tight enough and that all stations were working properly. Conditions on top the glacier were very difficult, taxing the equipment.

 

Overdue Activity?

Katla is located beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the third largest of Iceland’s glaciers. It is one of the most powerful and active volcanoes in Iceland, having erupted 20 times after Iceland was settled. Katla has erupted on average at a 40-80 year intervals. The last eruption took place in 1918 (98 years ago), making the next eruption overdue and possibly now in the making.

A sub-glacial eruption in Katla could trigger massive floods, as well as creating ash clouds similar to those seen in the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010.

quakes_in_myrdalsjokull

 

Potential Impact on ICE2017

ICE2017 Team will be keeping a close eye on developments of these recent activity, as it may influence our planning for next years adventure – maybe we will have the opportunity to experience a live volcano eruption.

Exciting times ahead………

Magnitude 3.2 Earthquake hits Katla Volcano

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Iceland Magazine Article: A magnitude 3.2 earthquakes hits Katla volcano, but the aviation code has gone back to green

 

An earthquake of magnitude 3.2 struck this morning at 6:10 in Katla, the volcano below Mýrdalsjökull glacier’s ice cap in South Iceland.

According to Icelandic Met Office (IMO) a few smaller earthquakes have followed. However, there are no signs of volcanic tremors and IMO has lowered the aviation colour code from yellow back to green, in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures. That is the code when a volcano is in typical background, non-eruptive state. The yellow alert is raised when a volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest, above known background level.

The colour code was raised to yellow on Thursday 29 September, when a very intensive pulse began in the caldera.
Earthquakes in Katla started to pick up the pace earlier this summer (see blog article: Colour Code for Katla Raised to Yellow).

 

Read More: Monster volcano Katla keeps clearing her throat

 

Bárðarbunga is another huge volcano in Iceland which has been showing signs of unrest in recent weeks and months. Yesterday an earthquake of M3.8 occurred in the northern part of the sub-glacial caldera, which is located in Vatnajökull glacier. A few after-shocks followed, the largest one was M3.0 reports IMO. Scientists have detected signs of magma movement into the magma chamber of the volcano, which is at the centre of a 200 km (124 mile) long volcanic system, one of the largest on the planet.

The large eruption in Holuhraun lava field, that lasted for 181 days (31st August 2014 to 27th February 2015) was directly connected to subsidence in the centre of Bárðabunga caldera.

Katla has historically erupted at least once every century and as its last eruption was in 1918.
Before that eruptions at an interval of 13 to 95 years marked the history of Katla.

 

ICE2017 Team will be keeping a close eye on the recent activity from both Katla and Bárðabunga.

Bárðarbunga Volcano Activity Returns

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Iceland Magazine Article: A magnitude 3.7 earthquake strikes Bárðarbunga volcano, signs of magma movement in the caldera

 

At 08:22 on 05 October 2016, a magnitude 3.7 earthquake struck the northern caldera rim of Bárðarbunga, the huge sub-glacial volcano in Vatnajökull glacier in the central highlands. According to scientists at the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) a few aftershocks have been detected so far, the largest magnitude 3.

IMO reports that there are some signs of magma movement into the volcano, as expansion of its magma chamber has been recorded.

The large eruption in Holuhraun lava field, that lasted for 181 days (31st August 2014 to 27th February 2015) was directly connected to subsidence in the centre of Bárðarbunga caldera.

 

bardabunga

Photo: Egill Aðalsteinsson (Iceland Magazine)

 

One of the largest volcanic system on the planet
Bárðarbunga is at the centre of a 200 km (124 mile) long volcanic system, one of the largest on the planet.

The 10km (6.2 mile) wide caldera is located underneath a 600 to 850 meter (1,968 to 2,788 ft.) thick ice cap in Vatnajökull glacier.

 

Read More: A fantastic new drone video takes you almost into the red-orange glowing Holuhraun lava fissure
Read More: See the first photos from inside the burnt out Holuhraun crater

 

The Holuhraun eruption was in an ice-free zone about 41 km (25.5 mile) north of the caldera, and it left a new lava covering 85 square km (32.8 sq. miles). For scale, imagine an area roughly 1.5 times larger than Manhattan island covered with new 7 to 30 meters (21–90 feet) thick lava.

 

Could pose significant challenges for airline travel
The system and fissure swarm of Bárðarbunga has erupted on average once every fifty years, with large eruptions every 250 to 600 years.

The largest known volcanic eruption in Iceland after settlement took place in Bárðarbunga in 1477.
This eruption, which was one of the most powerful eruptions in the past 10,000 years in Iceland.

An eruption in Bárðarbunga could pose significant challenges for airline travel in the Northern hemisphere

 

1,000 earhquakes last week
According to IMO, just over a thousand earthquakes were detected last week (26 September-2 October 2016) by the national seismic network. An earthquake swarm began in Mýrdalsjökull glacier (home of Katla volcano) early in the week. Over 500 quakes were recorded there, most of them within the Katla caldera. A small earthquake swarm occurred northeast of Grímsey Island off the north coast, with around 60 earthquakes, and under 70 earthquakes were measured in Vatnajökull glacier during the week. In the southern lowlands was also some activity where a swarm was in a cluster just 10 km east of Selfoss town in South Iceland and another 80 earthquakes were detected just west of Fagradalsfjall mountain on Reykjanes peninsula on the southwest corner of the country.

This kind of seismic activity is not unusual in Iceland, although this week was a little more active than the average week. The island lies on the divergent boundary between the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. Iceland is in effect slowly splitting apart along the spreading center between the plates, with the North America plate moving westward from the Eurasia plate. The rate of spreading along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge averages about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) per year, or 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) in a million years.

 

The national seismic network
IMO’s automatic monitoring network has been in operation for two decades.

Besides evaluating source function and mechanism information carried from below by micro-earthquakes, it provides near real-time information, that is used as the basis for an alert system.

 

Implications for ICE2017

Clearly, both Katla and Bárðarbunga volcanoes are now on our “radar”, and have to risk-factored into our planning process.

He hope that we can experience some of this activity first hand, whilst in Iceland next year, especially witnessing red-flowing new lava.

However, we also have to keep in mind the potential risks and changes that may be imposed upon our planned route, especially where roads / areas may be sealed off from general public, due to toxic volcanic gases, ash fallout, meltwater flooding, etc.

The ICE2017 Team will be keeping a close eye on both Katla and Bárðarbunga over the foreseeable future.

Colour Code for Katla Raised to Yellow

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Iceland Magazine: The colour code for Katla volcano raised to yellow — a new and powerful earthquake swarm hit at noon

 

Due to the recent significant increase in earthquake activity within Kalla, Iceland Met Office (IMO) has raised the aviation colour code from Green to Yellow in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures.

This alert is issued when a volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest, above known background level.

Scientists are concerned as the volcano’s behaviour is quite unusual.

The earthquakes’ points of origin are shallow, and there are no signs of volcanic tremors, but the experts say the quakes might nevertheless be a sign of an impending eruption.

 

volcano_status

 

Aviation Colour Codes

Colour Codes are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano’s status. Notifications are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity, and are accompanied by text with details (as known) about the nature of the unrest or eruption, especially in regard to ash-plume information and likely outcomes.

  1. GREY – Volcano appears quiet, but is not monitored adequately. Absence of unrest unconfirmed.
  2. GREEN – Volcano is in typical background, non-eruptive state.
  3. YELLOW – Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest, above known background level
  4. ORANGE – Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest, with increased potential of eruption.
  5. RED Eruption is imminent or in progress – significant emission of ash into atmosphere likely.

 

The colour codes reflect conditions at or near a volcano, and are not intended to pertain to hazards posed downwind by the drifting ash – all discernible ash clouds are assumed to be highly hazardous and should be avoided. Furthermore, users must be aware that the aviation colour code should not be extrapolated to represent the hazards posed on the ground, which might be quite different (WOVO – World Organization of Volcano Observatories).

 

The Police Commissioner of South Iceland has sent out units to visit Þakgil canyon and other popular travel destinations close to Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the home of the sub-glacial volcano, to warn people who might be in the area.
Katla may play an interesting role in ICE2017 Planning & Execution, if this level of increased activity continues.

ICE2017 Team will be keeping a close eye on future developments.

200 Earthquakes hit Katla in last 24 Hours

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A magnitude 3.1 earthquake struck Katla volcano at 04:40 this morning, followed by a magnitude 3.7 earthquake only one minute later, at 04:41.

According to Icelandic Met Office (IMO) a few smaller aftershocks followed thereafter.

In just the last 24 hours, IMO has recorded around 200 earthquakes in Katla.

There seems to be an increased possibility, that Katla will form a focal point in ICE2017 planning.

Interesting times ahead………

 

 

Katla Earthquake Activity Continues

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Iceland Magazine Article: Monster volcano Katla keeps clearing her throat, a large earthquake hit yesterday

 

A magnitude 3.9 earthquake struck Katla, the large sub-glacial volcano, at 13:31 yesterday (26.09.2016), followed by few aftershocks. However, there are still no signs of volcanic tremors according to Icelandic Met Office (IMO).

 

Katla is located under the ice cap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier in South Iceland, and is one of the country’s most feared volcanoes.

Katla has historically erupted at least once every century.
As its last eruption was in 1918, geologists have been expecting it to take off for a while.

Earthquakes in Katla started to pick up the pace earlier this summer 2016
(see blog article: Katla Earthquakes Continue – Future Eruption Possible ?)

 

On 29th August 2016, two magnitude 4.5 quakes struck in the northern rim of the caldera.
They are the biggest earthquakes in the volcano since 1977.

When asked what is happening within the volcano, Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, Pofessor of Geophysics at the Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland told Vísir that he is not loosing sleep over the situation. “We have witnessed several unusually large earthquakes, of magnitude 3 or larger. But their depth is rather shallow and we see no signs of expansion in the caldera or increase in geothermal activity,” said Magnus, and explained that if those factors were occurring in addition to the quakes that would be a sign of the volcano starting to warm up.

Several similar periods of unrest have occurred at Katla in the last 50 years without resulting in an explosive eruption.
Historical records indicate Katla is overdue, so we should be prepared. Here you can read IMO’s assessment.

IMO has several monitoring networks around Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the home of Katla, and via twenty-four-hour monitoring.
Every effort will be made to issue a timely warning in the event of a volcanic eruption.

 

katla2

 

History of Katla
In a great feature by world-renowned Volcanologist Haraladur Sigurðsson, he explains that history shows us that Katla generally erupts shortly after its neighbouring volcano in Eyjafjallajökull glacier, in 960 AD, 1612 and 1823.

 

Read Haraldur’s feature: Iceland’s most notorious volcano is kept under close surveillance

 

Eyjafjallajökull’s last eruption in 2010 was felt around the northern hemisphere.
The dispersal of the ash cloud shut down all aviation across the North Atlantic for one week, 313 airports were closed and 104,000 international flights between Europe and North America were cancelled.

In his feature Haraldur says that no one knows if there is a connection between these volcanoes, or if this is just a coincidence.

Katla has erupted at least 22 times since Iceland was settled 1,100 years ago, another eruption in the not-too-distant future is therefore inevitable.

As Haraldur points out, the major problem with Katla, and many of Iceland’s other large volcanoes, is that they capped by a thick ice sheet. When 1,200°C hot magma rises up in the volcano beneath the glacier, it causes massive melting of the ice and violent steam explosions.

Normally, this magma would create relatively harmless lava flows on land, but the steam explosions in the glacier changes the nature of the eruption to explosive, with production of huge volumes of ash that are dispersed widely in the atmosphere.

All the highest mountains in Iceland are volcanoes, and they have accumulated layers of ice on top that may be 400 to 700 meters thick.

 

Read More: A guide to Iceland’s glaciers, what to do there & their claim to fame

 

When Katla will eventually erupt it has, according to Haraldur, the potential of generating an eruption that is at least ten times larger than the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

Although Katla is stirring, there is no need to panic.
The volcano has sent us a similar reminder now and again for a while.
But this beast of a volcano is certainly keeping Geologists, Volcanoes enthusiasts and Iceland’s Civil Protection on their toes.

The distance between Katla and Reykjavík is around 180 km (112 miles).
However Vík village (population 318), a very popular travel destination on the south coast, is located at the bottom of the volcano.

 

Potential Impact on ICE2017

ICE2017 Team will be keeping a close eye on developments of these recent activity, as it may influence our planning for next years adventure – maybe we will have the opportunity to experience a live volcano eruption.

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