You may have read somewhere recently that Iceland is overdue an eruption. Well I’m kinda hoping it happens, I’m desperate to see some lava! It’s been 8 years now since Eyjafjallajokull shut down the airspace over Europe, with massive expense and disruption ensuing. Now it’s the turn of Katla, a volcano that last erupted a little over a hundred years ago on October 12th 1918. The thing is, it’s the longest Katla has gone without erupting, and all the geo-boffins in Iceland have noted that there is significantly increased seismic activity right now with dozens of tremors every day.
For the number-crunchers out there, here are the stats: –
There are 32 active volcanoes in Iceland. Katla hasn’t erupted for 100 years, however throughout the past 1100 years it has erupted at intervals of roughly 50 years. The Katla fissure swarm is 80 km (50 miles) long and the central volcano is ice-clad, covered by the Myrdasjokull ice cap (the one that borders Jokulsarlon, the Ice Lagoon) which is 700 metres thick, 9km wide, and 14km long.
Got that? What it basically means is that when something happens there’s a whole load of solid water sitting on top of the volcano ready to be melted into a flood! If you’ve ever been to Iceland and driven between Vik and Hofn, along the south east cost, you’ll have noticed the strange flood plains that resemble an other-wordly expanse of nothingness. That is the result of flowing water following eruptions where the glacial water has melted and flooded out to the sea.
The question being thrown about online right now is ‘when will it erupt?’ and the answer simply isn’t clear. It is a fact that it’s overdue, but it’s also a fact that nobody will know when it’s about to erupt until it’s begun happening. The things that are measured to forecast an eruption include measuring gases – which have increased already – measuring seismic activity – which has similarly increased already – and measuring the inflation of the volcano, which is difficult owing to the fact that the technologies are relatively new and the data isn’t easily comparable, combined with the fact that the volcano sits under an enormous ice cap.
What the geeks do know is that the build up of magma in the roots of the volcano is present, which in turn causes an increase in geothermal activity. That, for me, is perfect! I’m headed off to Iceland on Monday and on my ‘to-do’ list is a visit to a geothermal pool or two, so I can’t wait to chill (intentional witty pun, FYI) in a nice hot pool and take in the landscape around me, or perhaps the northern lights! If you want to follow along I’ll be showcasing my adventure on my Instagram story as always, and I’ll be taking over the KelbyOne Instagram story, too! I hope you can check it out!
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