Update on Katla volcano at 22:25 UTC


Here is an short update on Katla volcano.

There has not been a lot of earthquake activity in Katla volcano during the past few hours. The harmonic tremors are back to normal. But show increased noise from the glacier due the formation of the cauldron in it.

Here is an picture of the current travel ban area. The red lines mark the travel ban area on Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Picture is from Civil Emergency Authority in Iceland.

Other then this it is quiet in Katla volcano. But it important to notice that it is impossible to know for how long this quiet time is going to last given the pattern of activity over the past few weeks in Katla volcano.

Next update on Katla volcano is going to be when it needs to be posted.

Icelandic News about this.

Minnka hættusvæðið á jöklinum (Rúv.is, Icelandic)

65 Replies to “Update on Katla volcano at 22:25 UTC”

  1. PLease tell me if i am seeing just clouds over Katla or what I could swear its steaming.

  2. From Katka webcam RUV
    are clouds? I think that if they are orographic clouds but it is very suspicious

  3. in the left side upper this is going straight up not not across the screen

    1. On the RUV webcam? I’m really not seeing what you describe, just whisps of cloud is all I see.

  4. This type of clouds are common hover over this region, but it is also possible that they’ve been formed from the joküllhlaups, isn’t it?

  5. If there was anything unusual visible on the webcam, surely we would see something unusual below ground way before that. 😉

    1. The tip of the melting glacier has moved a bit to the right. It could be possible that the water might be steaming a bit, from yesterday’s event. Otherwise I would be saying they were the regular fogs we’ve always seen at this cam. 🙂

  6. Are we to make anything of the sharp upward trend of the red line (.5-1 Hz) in a couple of the tremor graphs, e.g. hvo and alf? Blue and green are still dropping, suggesting an easing of the hydrothermal activity, but red is heading back up, even if it’s still below levels of previous days.

    By the way, thanks for this excellent blog!

    1. So in short and simple terms, as I understand his premise, HO is saying that the tectonic stressors were not relieved enough in this last failed eruption of July 9 in the pre-weakened and damaged areas inside the caldera where the last large erupton occurred in 1918 and they are far greater than the eruption would lead on.

      This area has not adjusted enough where it continues to be vulnerable to further fracture spreading and is continuing to crack viz-a-vee the ongoing quakes since the event demostrating that the tectonic load stress has not stabilized throught the areas surrounding the weakness.

      Katla last large adjustment was 93 years ago in 1918 which is over 30 years beyond its mean dormant stage of 60 years. One might wonder then if this adjustment which is currently under way would expand the areas of current weakness and perhaps spread outward into a fizzure eruption.

      Caveat: these are the mindless arm chair rumblings of a drunk old man with no degress in the hard sciences.

  7. Katla sleeps, the glue has set . How long 2 weeks a month? then another rumble.
    Maybe this could go on for a while. My totally unscientific (but well enough read on the Internet!!!) guess is:- The longer this goes on for the bigger the eruption so if it goes in the next month or so VE3 if it rumbles on for years VE5+.
    Of course if Katla has finished she has finished and all will be quiet no more rumbles except background, nothing. For decades.
    I have no idea why, but I think Katla will go very quiet for a while perhaps a month, then go up properly. Really really quiet then bang.

    1. The M1.9 at 5,3 km a few minutes ago prooves your point. This quake is too strong & too deep to be ignored.

      1. 3 to 9 km seems to be the extent of the low velocity region under Katla according to “Habits of a glacier-covered volcano: Seismicity patterns and velocity structure of Katla volcano, Iceland”


        There are a few quakes beneath that in the last three months, but they don’t really stack like it’s a fresh influx of magma. (as we saw in the noisy sister to the west).

    2. Sorry I must point out I was referring to Heading Out’s post when I said “Katla sleeps, the glue has set” . For some reason I unintentionally deleted the first couple of lines before posting, still ZZZ morning etc’
      Great read HeadingOut thanks.

  8. Probably best view i have seen on the Katla camera at the moment…. crystal clear skies no sun or clouds spoiling the view, oh and 3 sheep in the forground 🙂

  9. does anyone know how katla behaved before her 1918 eruption? or are we riding blind with all this?

    1. Blind, without a guide dog blind, on the same planet as in Pitch black, blind. 🙂

  10. As it was so long ago and there was no electronic measurements like we have today I would say it is hard to know exactly how she behaved prior to the 1918 eruption. All there is to see I guess is old record written down and even they would be quite sparse. There would have been no possibility to see small earthquakes which we do today, tremors, inflation and hydrology measurements such as conductivity, waterlevel and volume and so on…

    And I dont know what kind of population there was at the start of the century. Maybe a few farmers.

    So all in all I think the only records of Katla ramping up to a large eruption would be eye witness accounts. And those only give hints, not a full picture. 🙂

    1. Here in Norway at least one newspaper has digitized it`s archive back to before the 1918 eruption, i wonder if it will have any information regarding that eruption, and even perhaps some information about the time before.

      (It is a pay service, so unfortunately not public available, but i will consider having a look)

  11. @ Heading Out
    Thank you for that very well constructed addition to the posts here. I think many lay people cannot grasp, as you say, the difficulties of working with rocks. Each area of rock was created in unique situations at the time so only generalisations can be made usually.
    As a result it is impossible at present to accurately predict how each volcano will behave as more accurate measurement methods have only just started to be used and there really is little previous data for reference.
    With this in mind I believe Jon, and others here on this blog are being incredibly accurate in their statements and “predictions”. Firstly they are honest and not “Katla Mongers”. They comment and record exactly what they see and use common sense as well as experience in their reporting.
    Bearing in mind the complexities of the geology and movement beneath Iceland, only those who have made a deep study, and know the area intimately will really have the ability to interpret Katla’s behaviours .
    The rest of us can learn and support those who are providing a valuable service both in practical terms and in education.
    So many thanks to Jon, HO and others like you.
    In my experience with all things…. It is a sign, not of inactivity but a change in behaviours, when previous activity suddenly goes quiet, whether a Volcano, a lion stalking prey or the sounds from your children at play !!!

  12. Has anyone heard if Mila intend placing Webcams around Katla, the RUV webcam is a bit hit and miss and does not give a continuous feed. I certainly hope they do, possibly a few Cameras to give different views.

  13. so we are going to be the guineapigs for recording this for future generations. Oh well keep up the good work guys. And a big thankyou to jon and the rest of crew for keeping us updated and sharing your knowledge with the rest of us

  14. Monday
    11.07.2011 13:03:42 63.630 -19.075 5.3 km 1.9 99.0 5.7 km NNE of Hábunga

    1. This looks quite interesting. That would place the source of the quake somewhere near or lightly above the presumed magma-chamber/chamber-complex.

      1. It’s not uncommon for a volcano to have multiple “storage” regions.

        As I noted it an earlier post (say… 5 minutes ago), there is a low velocity structure centered around 6 km down.

        Potentially, this is another region that could be considered a chamber.


  15. Does anyone else use the Floodwarn Platform? It’s both cameras (Katla & Hekla) on one Screen which is useful I find 🙂


    There’s some very useful information on here & even though a lot is speculation, that is not to say it isn’t true for sure. Who knows what is going on beneath the surface?! As you have stated, 1918 was a long time ago & so we have very little to go on. Just pure statistics.
    However, It is a strange coincidence of events that we should get a swarm of earthquakes, then Harmonic Tremors, & then a 50 meter deep boiler hole caused by “a magma intrusion or a steam explosion” right within the caldera, ALL within a few weeks!

    [Quote from Article: http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/Calderas_in_M%C3%BDrdalsj%C3%B6kull_50_Meters_Deep_0_380029.news.aspx%5D

    One thing is for sure though, Saying that “The recent activity in Mýrdalsjökull does not indicate an immediate eruption” is a rather presumptuous statement. They ‘Expect’ it to go off within what? 6Months – 1.5Years of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption last year?

    Regardless of what they say, it is clear to us that Katla has awoken. And she has Sneezed, & then Yawned! I Wonder what she is going to do next!!! 😉

    1. >Still learning to decipher the difference between what a harmonic tremor looks like and natural noise.

      Spectrograms would be a great tool for that.

      1. Jon, maybe it’s off-topic here, but could you tell me the specifications of the data you receive to your geophone? (data type, packets, connection type, etc).

        There is free software that could help you obtain more professional charts and use more advanced tools, and I could also help you with that, as long as the protocols and data you use/get from your geophone are supported bby the software I’m referring about.

    1. @david:

      Yes, Katla is still quiet. And don’t worry… if Katla is no longer quiet, almost everyone in the world will hear of it, thanks to the large crowd of journalists who are desperately searching for news to fill the gap of missing interesting news during the summer time. 😉

  16. Wind Noise? Right. I shall try to keep that in mind. Thanks for the info.
    I guess I just assumed that your instruments were buried underground, & so wind wouldn’t have popped into my mind! My apologies Sir. I’ve only just picked up on this amazing Blog! 🙂

    Statistics have shown that Katla’s activity starts off suddenly at the Start of the Summer, & then picks up & goes on over drive in autumn! Katla may be Quiet, but she’s Never empty…

    1. Interesting…. seeing as of the 131 known eruptions only 18 have a historical account. And of the 18 historical accounts, only 12 have a date associated with them.

      Not much of a sample to derive a valid argument eh?


      Not to all, beware of someone claiming statistics as proof of anything.

      Indicative of a possible correlation worthy of further study? Maybe. But not proof.

  17. I am seeing new harmonic tremor spikes in SIL stations around Katla volcano. This are small spikes so far.

    I am going to post more information on this later.

    1. Monday
      11.07.2011 17:41:22 63.630 -19.119 0.1 km 1.4 99.0 5.6 km N of Hábunga

    2. Was this what I spotted at ESK earlier? I thought maybe that was just the wind.

      1. Jon, can you tell what is happening shortly, cause I have to go sleep now, workday tomorrow 😀

  18. Where is Múlakvísl located at exactly? I was hoping to view it on Google Earth. Thanks for all the updates btw, Jon.

  19. Hi all, an amateur here so humor me if this sounds like an unusual question.

    I know that when Mt St Helens erupted (VEI 5) it destroyed all the glaciers on top of it. Judging from satellite maps the size of the glaciers on top of Washington State volcanoes is comparable to the size of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier (but not the Mýrdalsjökull).

    If Katla were to erupt with a VEI of 5 what size fraction of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier do you think it would destroy? Would the entire area south the glacier be flooded or just a few little areas? Or does no one know yet and we’re in uncharted territory?

    1. That really depends on the physical structure that the theoretical VEI-5 erupts through.

      VEI is a measure of how much stuff comes out… not how fast or in what fashion it does. A fissure eruption could ooze and spit for months and eventually reach VEI-5 while not destroying the terrain around it. In Mt St Helen’s case, you had a flank collapse and rapid decompression of the emplaced magma. This made a directed blast that took every one by surprise.

      The warning sign was there, but no one knew what it meant. (that nasty bulge on the side of the summit)

      If (HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING) Katla had a whole caldera event, then yeah, kiss the glacier goodbye. Most likely it will be localized to one of the sectors of the existing crater, and in the worst case, probably an opening somewhere along it’s fissure swarm. If it’s violent and does the whole of the VEI-5 at one time, then what you are asking would be possible. If it’s a long drawn out affair that eventually reaches the VEI-5 volume level, then no, it won’t match the scenario you have asked about.

      FOR THE TRANSIENTS: This is just a discussion about what it would look like if it did happen. Not a prediction at all. Do not assume it is or read anything into it. I am not a geologist or a professional in the geosciences. I just plot stuff and my formal training is in electronic warfare, not volcanoes.

  20. On seeing the chopper video, are the ‘kettles’ – the sink holes in Myrdalsjokull – roughly over where the earthquake clusters appear on the Icelandic Met Office earthquake maps? I am curious to know! Brilliant work, Jon and community!

    1. I’d like to know that too…. but without a posit for the Helo in the video, I don’t know.

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