Iceland’s Katla Volcano Stirs In Its Slumber

Remember Eyjafjallajökull? The Icelandic volcano that was hilariously mispronounced by every non-Icelandic news reporter then pretty much avoided altogether and referred to as “the recent Iceland volcano eruption”? On a more serious note, do you remember, if perhaps you were unfortunately traveling at the time, the cancellation of hundreds of flights in various parts of Europe and other places which resulted in the airlines being financially hammered to death?

It most likely could happen again on a bigger scale with bigger consequences. Except, Eyjafjallajökull isn’t going to erupt this time, the much more easily pronounceable and bigger Katla volcano could be.

When Eyjafjallajökull erupted last year, many were worried that Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption could trigger either the biggest Icelandic volcano (Katla) or the stratovolcano Hekla to erupt. That year, neither erupted.

However as 2010 turned into 2011, many monitoring the Katla volcano worried that, due to the historical tendency of Katla volcano erupting following a Eyjafjallajökull eruption and the fact it historically occurred almost every 50 years, the question of the biggest volcano in Iceland erupting is a matter of “when” and not “if”.

Recently, there has been an increase in the strength of the earthquakes occurring underneath Katla, the strongest being a 4.1 on the Richter scale last week.

Though the seismic data and other observations give no indication of an exact date or time of an eruption, scientists say that there is no need for alarm while also saying in the same breath that the situation could change “abruptly”.

Other scientists are arguing that Katla’s behavior is unpredictable and erratic, which makes it difficult to ascertain if the eruptions could be big, small or if the quakes underneath are just another phenomena.

The last major Katla eruption occurred in the year 1918. The eruption lasted over a month as plumes of ash actually blocked out the sun in the most affected areas, introducing harsher winters and effectively killing off crops and subsequently livestock.

Major floods also occurred as Katla resides underneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

If Katla is to erupt again in a similar manner, the eruption could lead to mass flooding and yet another disruption of air travels.

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