October 16, 2011
Another Icelandic Volcano Threatening Eruption
An Icelandic volcano, dubbed by Daily Mirror reporter Mike Swain as "one of the most feared volcanoes in the world," could be close to a major eruption that would "dwarf" those originating from the nearby Eyjafjallajokull last year.
In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull eruptions created an ash cloud which left planes grounded, stranded travelers, and ultimately cost the European economy more than $1.5 billion. Even so, that eruption was classified as a minor one.
Katla, the volcano currently being watched by volcanologists, has a magma chamber approximately 10 times the size of its neighbor. Small tremors have been detected in the region around Katla since July, Swain reports, but recently those tremors have grown into earthquakes that have reached a magnitude of four on the Richter scale.
They could be an indicator that pressure within the volcano is increasing, and according to Telegraph Science Correspondent Nick Collins, Katla "averages two large eruptions every century," but has not erupted since 1918, "making another long overdue."
That last eruption, 93 years ago, "lasted for more than a month, blocking out sunlight, killing livestock and melting an ice-sheet that flooded nearby farmlands," Collins says.
"Officials are so concerned about a potential eruption that they have drawn up evacuation plans and are holding regular meetings with experts tracking Katla's activity," he added.
Dr. David Rothery, a volcano expert from the Open University, told Collins that while the volcano had been in a "state of unrest," Katla had begun to quiet down during the middle of last week and that it was "more likely than not" that the seismic activity would die down.
However, he also added that it would "not be a surprise" if Katla erupted.
"These things do not just ramp up, they come in pulses. By this time next week there might be lots of earthquakes and the volcano might be swelling," Rothery told Collins. "It is in a state of unrest but it is not in a state to get alarmed about at present."
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