Katla Volcano

Katla Volcano, also known simply as Katla, is an active subglacial volcano that is located in southern Iceland. It reaches an elevation of 4,961 feet and encompasses an area of 230 square miles, making it one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland. Its caldera reaches a diameter of six miles and it is occasionally somewhat covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The volcano was named for its kettle like shape and its name is often given as a female first name.

Katla is thought to have produced Vedde Ash, which can be seen as far away as Scotland, Norway, and Denmark. It is thought that Katla’s first recorded eruption occurred in 930 and it produced sixteen more eruptions since this date. One of these includes its last major eruption, which occurred in 1918, produced laharic flood deposits that extended the southern coastline by 3.1 miles. This was the most recent of major eruptions, with large scale eruptions occurring in 934, 1612, 1625, 1721, 1755, and 1860, among many other years.  Most of these eruptions produced glacial flooding and many citizens avoided traveling across the plains near the volcano due to glacier bursts and deep rivers until the construction of Hringvegur in 1974.

Since its last eruption in 1918, Katla has remained relatively quiet, but recent activity beginning in 1999 caused scientists to consider a future eruption. Monitoring of this volcano increased after a nearby volcano, known as Eyjafjallajökull glacier, erupted in 2010. Following this eruption, earthquakes increased around Katla, primarily on the northwestern edge of its caldera. Because historic eruptions from Katla have been recorded within moths of eruptions from its neighbor, scientists warned that an eruption could occur soon. In 2011, evidence of an eruption came in the form of cracks in the glacier and large glacier floods in two rivers that destroyed a bridge and other parts of a road.

Image Caption: Photograph of Katla volcano erupting through Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in 1918. Credit: RicHard-59/Wikipedia