The Katla Volcano: with english subtitles

Here is a video about Katla volcano. Made by Almannavarnir in Iceland.

97 Replies to “The Katla Volcano: with english subtitles”

  1. Well, I’ve just saved myself 250 GBP by making my own inverted frisbee dust collector, ready for when Katla blows (and I’m glad there are some warnings here that just because a seismometer jitters, it doesn’t necessarily mean an eruption.)

    Here’s the sort of thing I made (left):

    Where is the best place to hire a small aircraft from? I have a pilot’s licence and this would be an interesting trip!

  2. It is a very nice and instructive movie. Good that you posted it Jón for all the new-comers.

    On a slightly OT basis, from the field of volcano-linguistics department of “Why Icelandic is hard for Swedes”.
    Gos is eruption in Icelandic, but in swedish it is “snuggle”, even the verb “to snuggle = gosa”.
    So for a swede it is slightly funny to hear Kötlugos, since it kind if implies that you want to crawl up under a blanket with the volcano and watch a romantic movie in a candle-lit setting… 🙂
    Or wait a minute here… Hm… Didn’t we just snuggle up and watch a movie about our current favourite volcano? Hm… 🙂

  3. Hm…
    I just checked something.
    It seems that if we assume that the current centers of quake-activity are the most likely of erupting we can pinpoint it to the east-west fissure of 1755 (heavy five eruption that lasted for 7 months).
    South of caldera-activity. Possibility for radial fissure eruption with lava-floods. Not so likely, even though the quakes are tightly grouped, they are not that imposive. But it could pick up speed and become anything from a Fimmvörduhals Tourist-volcano to an Eldja. We cannot simply know about that one since there is no eruption on record from that spot.
    Godabunga, if the cryptodome is a part of Katla it would probably be quite spectacular to see it forming. Eruption-style would probably be explosive, but all bets are off otherwise.
    Time will tell, but I think the most disruptive would be an eruption in the caldera central east-west fissure. I would guess that is the Katla proper.

    1. Carl, agree with you and still in the car with you idea’s about if and when Katla goes, instead of asking a question like i normally do, i will add something.

      I attempted to look at the records for floods in the katla area and see if many happened before a Eruption, this way we could get any piece of the pie to see how close we are. I found nothing, mainly cause i cannot read well. 🙂

      It could be done as well for allot of animals been killed with gas affects or people.

      I attempted to look for a flank Eruption on the north end at the time of Eldja and i found nothing on paper. I see allot of twitter activity about farmers and locals in VIK having the cars packed and ready, I need the FSB to give my sat connection back. 🙂

  4. Jon, weather notwithstanding what do you make of the tremor signature visible at the following stations all centred around the NE of iceland: gha, kvo, mel, ski?

    Just seems to sharp an anomaly for weather alone where I would have thought we would have seen more of a gradual build up and fall away of tremor patterns, with the change most pronounced in the blue/ green frequencies. Also IMO is not reporting significant wind storms (unlike yesterday).

    The shift is of short duration , and equally visible in all 3 wavelengths. Also visible to a lesser extent at a few other stations in the same general area. If this isnt a harmonic tremor please could you let me (and any other interested folk) know what distinguishes these tremor patterns from a harmonic tremor?

    Many thanks

    1. Hydrology page on IMOs site shows a high flow rate in some of the rivers round there so it could be run off from the recent storm Iceland had.

  5. This afternoon has seen a lot of activity arouund the Katla webcam site. At one point there were two flatbed cranes, two large 4 x 4 and at least six guys. They were working with a black metal container – roughly 60cms square from what I could see. Maybe installing some new equipment? There does not seem to have been any change to camera angle or focus as yet.

    1. They are probably installing a FLIR-camera. They had one on Eyja way back when. Good for night-volcano watching.
      All this frantic activity does not bode well actually. Icelanders do not do things like this without a reason.
      I would also guess they are adding additional GPS and SIL equipment.

      If you see someone really cute, blond and waving (Did I just describe half of the women on Iceland?) it is probably Sigrún Hreinsdottir, she is normally supervising things when they add equipment.

      1. Probably need auxiliary power supply too (either diesel / generator or battery backup). Electrical network might be one of the first to be knocked out, either by flood (Múlakvísl & Sólheimsandur) or soon by multiple lightning strikes, from eruption ash. Transfer of camera signal likely still is by ground cable, but microwave likely is possible too from this site (that is communication relay station). This is just speculation, I have no details of equipment there. But likely good spot for (FLIR) Forward Looking Infra Red camera like once at Þórólfsfell covering Eyjafjallajökull.

  6. cracking vid. thanks for uploading Jon.

    so that flat expanse in the foreground of the camera shot is one of the MOST likely route for the glacial flood once the action gets going?

  7. Isn’t it odd that everyone here, except the blog owner, wants something to happen right now, when ‘Iceland Review’ is reporting, not unexpectedly, that the good people of Vik are all very calm about it.

      I have read that the people of Vik are told to assemble at the church in the picture, as it is high enough away from a glacial run as far as they know from previous runs. It (a moderately bad Katla run)would be quite like the Japan tsunami from this vantage point One can see from the picture in the background one of the vast outwash plains from Katlas previous events.
      Icelanders like Japanese know what to do in these situations they will not panic, they are solid. Instinctual.

    2. Oh my dear friend! I live 100km away from Katla and I don’t wish very much for Katla to erupt. But naturally if it erupts, I want to be here and not during my long holidays in Oct/Nov. But it is annoying, dangerous, and stressful to experience an eruption. What do you do? Yes, its cool first 5min to see something new, then its always the same a big ash cloud that can be really dangerous if you are close by. Don’t be foolish my friend in wishing that.

      1. No, nobody wishes the hardship, especially when herding has only just started. I can understand very well that people want to see a volcano for the natural spectacle that it is, however. I’m one of them. So, safe people and animals, good volcano show.

        Maybe we’ll meet at a safe distance from the ash cloud?

  8. i don’t think anyone WANTS the chaos a large eruption will bring, but seeing as it looks almost nailed on it WILL blow (i said ALMOST), we may as well stay on top of things. If that means it looks like we WANT it to happen in your eyes, oh well, not a lot I can do about that.

    I can tell you now, if this monster calmed back down and went into a few century long sleep, nobody would be more delighted than me. I just have a feeling this could negatively impact all of us here in the UK in a big way, and I for one can do without that right now.

      1. Katla will not have an impact on the markets, more than if you are heavilly into airline-shares.
        Trichét smiling a bit too much have more impact.

        The only impact I can think of is if Alcoa have to temporarily close down their aluminium smelting plant. And that would just be good for those who have bought aluminium-terms.

        I am more nervous about what pee-brain Berlusconi will do next. Probably declare a cheese-festival as the solution to world-economic problems.

      2. I tend to disagree with how it could affect markets. That all depends on Katla and the wind. If we have numerous months of significant flight disruption and dark, ugly skies, there are several industries/sectors that will suffer, tourism (no one wants to visit ash), perishables, airlines of course, industries that rely on fast movement of goods in which inventories are not robust. If Katla does what it did in 1755, the EU is already very fragile and vulnerable to any shocks to the system. Airlines would likely get nationalized, consumers who are already hunkered down would retreat further, damage to industries mentioned above…all this adds up to a large shock to the system pusing it assuredly into recession. Yes, Katla could prompt and escalate the recesssion as the system is that fragile.

        Btw, why Alcoa. Where is that smelting plant?

    1. People are very mean when they like watching a tsunami striking Japan, or Katla blowing its top. It is a sad thing from humans. Yes, come here and be in Vík and watch it yourself til a rock hits your foolish head.

  9. I am more than happy to see just a quiet view of Katla (Hekla is pretty too). But a pity I missed the action earlier with the van, people and equipment. So far I have missed all the sheep as well!

  10. Something is wrong at Kröfluvirkjun/Krafla, during the day there has been two instances of what looks like harmonic tremoring that is larger than normal for the area. This is not wind, that looks different (see below).

    From Melnhausar (west of Krafla):

    From Krokottuvötn (North of transverse Graben):

    From Reynihlid (South of transverse Graben):

    On the first two you are seeing the harmonic tremors. It is especially visible on the Krokottuvötn that lies north of the transform fault/transverse Graben that goes through both the visible outer Caldera of Krafla, and the inner hidden caldera (flooded with lava).
    The Reynihlid shows a pattern of daily tremoring, that is from the powerplant Kröfluvirkjun and is entirely normal, you should also use this as a reference for the wind, you can see that as the increase and decrease in the red line.

    As you see on all 3 graphs the red and the green follows the wind-pattern, but the tremoring pattern is asymptotic compared to all other SILs in the area including Reynihlid. Reynihlid should have shown the same pattern if the tremoring was wind-induced.
    A harmonic tremor occuring at Krokottuvötn (north of the transverse graben) would not be visible at Reynihlid due to inabillity for waveforms to go through the transverse graben due to wave-pattern scattering through difraction, refraction and plain mirroring.
    I therefore think that Krafla is having a harmonic tremoring or a hydrothermal event that is not related to normal operations in Kröfluvirkjun.

      1. Yes I agree. It seems there was a minor tremor event in Katla. Might be something hydrothermal. There were also no earthquakes related to this.

      2. “It is after all Icelands only real industry. It opened in 2007 and they are planning another one in Husavik.”

        There are 2 other smelters operating in Iceland, the first one, at Straumsvik, started in 1975 (IIRC)
        Iceland has a number of other industries, some of them quite energy intensive so this is far from being the only one.

  11. I pulled them before the debt ceiling debate, and put it back after it bottomed out. Its held steady since. I think a prolonged Katla eruption could do further damage to an already fragile global economy.

  12. Very OT!!
    Just been an article on UK tv about a drunken Swedish moose stuck in an apple tree being rescued by the local fire crew and left to sleep it off!! Apple ice wine??? Iwon’t ask Carl to comment TEE HEE!!

    1. Yes, if the apples are hanging on the tree and hit by frost they rapidly start to ferment as they thaw. Every fall there is either horses, mooses, or another animal that gets slobberingly drunk…

      Mooses on general love apples, and take every chance to get to them. But normally they do not get piss-drunk by them.

      So, not really the same process as with ice-wine, more of natural fermenting and ordinary wine…

      1. Wasps get that here when frost starts, any fermented fruit gets them nasty stinging, when I pruned a small orchard once because of storm damage some days before, wasps drunk on fermented apples stung everybody in sight when the sun came out 🙂 People and me running madly flailing arms, some running very far away, I threw my safety helmet with wasps stinging it far away 🙂 🙂 It was funny in the pub later…

  13. Thank you Jon. A very informative Video.
    My thinking whilst watching.
    1. I didn’t realise how large the caldera is. It really put scale into perspective for me.
    2. Oh! Goody! next time someone sees a wispy puff of cloud and comes in to tell us “Katla is steaming” We can direct them towards this video and tell them when they see a huge explosion like that to tell us Katla is erupting!
    3. How very organised the emergency services are. I still do not wish this on anyone. However I can see that the locals are sensible and educated and take living with Volcanoes as part of their lives. It is hard for us without this threat to quite get our heads round how one lives without worry!!
    @ Karen. The sheep have probably been taken down from the higher summer pastures to lower pastures and shelters. This is done every Autumn anyway for their safety through the winter and for the overseeing of “Tupping” (Mating) This ensures lambs are not born too early (Well! That’s what happens here in our upland farms on the Pennines near where I live). With the added uncertainty, the farmers will of course take their animals to the safest place possible.
    ven my husband in passing wanted to know about the wite van and ladders. So now Iceland prepares, even if there may be a long time before Katla erupts…They are sensibly ready.

  14. I felt severely nostalgic and went on the prowl for a piece of music to suit my mood and got stuck on an old favourite of mine.
    Oddly enough it kind of feels like a good sound-track for a Katla eruption.

    Public Health Warning! Heavy ancient electronica will blast your brain if you klick on the link. Music history lesson for those who do dare though (this is where it began)

  15. This is what you mean, perhaps?
    08.09.2011 16:46:30 63.667 -19.154 0.1 km 1.5 99.0 5.6 km ENE of Goðabunga
    08.09.2011 16:37:48 63.552 -19.111 0.1 km 0.4 99.0 3.2 km S of Hábunga

    Thanks for the video, Jón. They seem to be preparing people if the worst case scenario takes place.

    1. yep, it was those quakes, they hadn’t shown up when I posted. Also the spike was about 3 pixels wide, most of the spikes from earthquakes seem to be 1 or at most 2 pixels wide.

  16. Very good video, thank you Jon.

    As I lived in Grimsnes, close to Reykholt, it is about 100km west of Katla (50km west of Hekla). I think I don’t need to worry about our life here. But I was wandering if the eruption is large and the wind blows from the east (as it is common) I will be engulfed into the ash cloud. Even being 100km, because that has happened with Grimsvotn. Shall I be worried with volcanic lightning? Can lightning happen 80-100km away from Katla? With Grimsvotn the ash cloud (and darkness) reached us, and we were 200km away! So I naturally worry about Katla if the winds is from the east.

    The second question is what if Godabunga erupts and develops a piroclastic side cloud, similar to Mt St Helens. I stand in the line of where the cloud would probably blast but I am about 90km away. I can see Katla from here. How far can that cloud reach? How far did it reach in St Helens?

    I am trying to be more prepared in case Katla has a very large eruption and the above happens, which is unlikely but can happen.

    1. Impossible to answer with any certainty as no-one knows in advance how large the eruption will be.

      Can only suggest that you follow the advice given by the local authorities. At least with volcanoes you usually get some warning. But if the event is large, the authorities will have their hands full so make sure that you are as self-sufficient as you can be (emergency food & water, essential medication, minimum of half a tank of fuel in your car at all times, etc..). And if you are in business, make sure you have a well-rehearsed disaster / business recovery plan.

    2. Irpsit:
      I have followed Merapi eruption, where, as you might know, horrible pyroclastic flows occurred.
      Merapi is a steeper volcano, and the exclusion zone was of about 20 km radius, to 30 km, where there were river beds.
      I don’t think you should expect anything of the kind from Katla.
      But please, no Katla hiking, or, if you die, I’ll never know if I was the culprit. 🙂

    3. Ash-breather filter might be a good idea, and a lightning-rod ontop of the house is newer a bad idea. I am amazed at how few have them installed.
      For those who do not know, a lightning rod is an iron spear that you put at te highest spot/spots of your house. From the spear you run a heavy uninsulated wire (20mm steel-wire works fine). Dig down a metallic plate, copper is best but expensive, use a sheet of aluminium instead since it dieasnt rust. Then connect everything. When the lightning hits (with lightning it is never IF, it is WHEN) it will hit the lightning rod, and the electricity will run down the wire into the ground…
      Lightning rods are binary, have one have house, do not have one do not have house.
      I command Yee! Go forth into the yonder and installeth rods!

  17. @ Carl/Jon
    Just for interests sake, what is the operating mechanisms of the SIL meters on site -ie are they pressure transducers, magnetic induction as geophones are or motion sensors linked to induction coils?
    (I dont like captcha – war bilistio)!!!

    1. Moving Magnetic Coil, or MMC, think old LP-player here. Then you have one part that hangs down, and as it hangs it moves a magnetic coil that registers the energy.
      Some of the newers are probably accelerometers instead since they are easier to transform into digital without loss of coherence.

  18. A bit OT but it seems there has been a EQ in the eastern parts of the Netherlands (where I live) Ofcourse I didn’t feel anything 😉

    1. Magnitude ML 4.6
      Date time 2011-09-08 19:02:48.0 UTC
      Location 51.71 N ; 5.99 E
      Depth 10 km

      I felt it (approx 30 km of epicenter). Strange feeling and unusual sounds from my house.

      1. I noticed a small quake reading in the UK Herstmonceux seismometer around 19:04 and wondered what it was. Now I know! Netherlands! By the time it reach the UK the signal had smoothed out a bit.

  19. I might be going into lack internet connection for the next few days. But I have a backup connection over 3G. But it is not good and does not allow me to connect to my geophones and stuff like that.

    On other notes, it seems that Katla volcano is about to start a new earthquake swarm at this moment. It is hard to know for sure how it is going to develop over the next few hours.

    1. Jón as Katla get to thinking that you could start a new swarm of earthquakes
      by small peaks of tremor at the end of the story?

  20. Jón, we’ll miss you!
    He, he, Mila is taking advantage of the poor volcano. Good for us all!
    Thank you MILA!!!! 🙂

    1. I have backup 3G connection. But that is not as good as the connection that I need.

      I am going to be glad next year, back in Denmark on my own ADSL connection and none of this problem is going to happen again I hope.

  21. I lived on the San Andreas fault for years. People who live on faults or near volcanoes are usually very interested in every earthquake and volcano in the world and any science concerning the occurance. Many become more knowledgable and interested in geology generally. My father witnessed the eruption of Mt St. Helens. It was awesome..Even though it affected him locally and personally in a negative way..he still was amazed and felt privileged to be looking right at the volcano when it erupted.
    It is not morbid curiosity. It is not “wishing” it will happen. It is just the certain knowledge..based on past scientific evidence that an event is likely to occur. The more we know..the better prepared we are..
    So thanks for posting this excellent video showing one of the natural wonders of our world..and explaining how prepared the world is..or isn’t for the eventual “fallout” from such an event.

      1. She looks so tranquil. After watching that video it is scary to imagine what might be hiding under that peaceful exterior. Perhaps the calm before the storm?

  22. Great video, tried to pick out the spoken Icelandic words as shown in the translation narrative … it’s a good job this blog is written as the way the words are pronounced in Icelandic is not the same as they are read alound by this native English speaker.

  23. For godsake, maybe the only chance in my life to feel an earthquake in my hometown, and I was unable to feel it because I was at a concert. (which was great, but still I’m a bit disappointed)
    Well I guess I’ll have to wait, I’ve got a book about the Dutch geology which tells me there are some faults down in the North Sea close to my hometown, so who knows. 🙂

    1. Pieter – so often depends where you are! the Market Rasen earthquake in 2007 woke me up because my IKEA wardrobes were clattering – if they had different doors they may not have done and I would have missed it!

      Also remember a friend who worked for BGS being on holiday when the 4.1 earthquake (Melton Mowbray) happened – the one time it was on his doorstep and he missed it!

  24. Seems to be a quiet night to come. But of course we still need something to do. So I will ask if you have an idea what I saw on the good old FLIR- camera on Þórólfsfell the 23th of May last year, during Eyja’s eruption. BTW, hope they installed the same type of cam on Katla today. You can see the pictures on
    Nothing special was to be seen on the usual webcam, but the FLIR-cam showed a very bright (=warm) spot in the air, moving very slowly to the right (east or south-east I think). I watched it for a long time. Of course I thought of an UFO but maybe somebody among you have another suggestion?
    I would be very happy to hear what you think, because it bothers me a lot not to know what it was.

    1. I have seen other videos with strange things from that eruption like this one.
      The trouble is, as much as technology makes images available, it also makes us doubtful of anything we see on these videos we can’t explain. I would be very interested to see if anyone could verify these photos through Mila archives? They probably have them but don’t post anymore.

      1. maynard, Jón,

        Maynard, thank you very much for your response.

        Jón, would you please give my email adress to maynard? And do you maybe have a contact adress at Mila?

        Maynard, it is as you say, one gets easily doubtful about things one cannot explain, and making animations is easy today. But my pictures are real and I would be very interested in getting them verifyed by Mila (if somebody working at Mila reads this, please respond!). I will try to contact them. I really hope they keep the records.
        The videos at are very interesting, did not know there were so many of them, also saw one from Katla. It makes me very curious.
        PS: The object on my pictures moves to the right on the cam, that must be to the west, not to the east, as I said.

  25. Jon,

    Is there a cloud on Katla above the spot where we saw one when there was thermal activity on Katla two (?) days ago? webcam is not clear.

  26. I was awake when the Market Rasen waves hit here in Leeds. Was an eerie feeling and my late mother was awoken, wondering what it was and as she had keen hearing, she noticed the noise too. Luckily there was no damage, apart from plaster cracks.

    Anyway, back on topic…

    It’s quite interesting watching the data from Katla as she prepares for an eruption, considering it’s not happened since the monitoring network was installed. I’m guessing the tremor plots will suddenly shoot up and the earthquakes will get stronger when the magma starts it’s bid for freedom or will it start off like the recent earthquake swarms and simply get stronger?

    It’s so interesting and soon enough that question will be answered. I just hope everyone is prepared and it seems that everyone is.

  27. Saw the vid early this year, after it was uploaded on Oct 24, 2010 .

    Good graphics there … and was nice to see project manager Amy again too. 🙂 (Why bother with the ladies in Sweden, Jon, when you have ones like Amy right there in Iceland? 😉 )

    Well, back to earthy hot stuff, there was an interesting earthquake mid-way between Ayja and Katla (08.09.2011 10:35:50 63.623 -19.434 21.6 km 1.2 99.0 6.4 km SSE of Básar ) … which looked interesting because of it’s location and depth (21.6 km).

    The video posted above indicates the Katla Caldera is at a shallow depth of 2 to 5 km. So how does the 21.6 km deep quake at Fimmvoruhals fit into the picture? Is that near a location where deep magma makes a choice of whether to head towards Eyja or towards Katla?

    I think the Eyja eruption has resulted in a detour sign on the highway heading up its vent … and redirecting all magma traffic towards Katla now.

    Lurking, do you have a link for that great graphic you did (last year?) showing quakes beneath Eyja and Katla, and where there appeared to be a common connection? I’m curious how deep that was. The 21 km depth is close to moho …

  28. I would not go anywhere near Vik. the various outwash plains could trap many there for a long while, tephra would make life hell there very quickly, VE5 would not be good for Vik neither would an unfavorable wind.
    I think at the first sign of major EQ people of Vik should go away just in case, the outwash plain looks too big and too dangerous to take any chances. Foolish indeed to try to get to Vik, or stay there after major EQ.
    Infact on this occasion I would say that people should not volcano tourist Katla it is far too dangerous. Rock on head indeed.

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