Sharp increase in earthquake activity in Katla volcano

In the last 24 hours there has been a sharp increase of earthquakes in Katla volcano. This started yesterday with few minor earthquakes swarms with long quiet period between activity happening. This is what happens when magma is trying to push it self out of a volcano, but doesn’t have the energy to do so just yet. It is not fully understood why most of the earthquakes happen at 0,1 km depth, but it has been theorised (not proven) that Katla volcano is already so hot in the magma tubes that no further earthquakes are possible (for now at least). Details can be found here and here (pdf).

The earthquake activity in Katla volcano during the last 24 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Largest earthquake so far had the magnitude of 3,3. Other earthquakes that have happened are smaller in magnitude at the moment. Current earthquake count is 74 earthquakes, I think that number is going to increase if this earthquake activity continues. I suspect that it is going to do so, there might however be a drop in activity for few hours, days and up to several weeks at the time. Why that happens is something I don’t know. It is also worth noticing that there has been a lot of negative value earthquakes taking place. Those don’t show up on the new Icelandic Met Office website, just the old one.

There is a good chance of conductivity changes in glacier rivers from Mýrdalsjökull glacier. That data can be viewed here, just click on station to view its data. Please note that linking to a station here (in the comment) doesn’t work, I don’t know why that is.

Update 25.01.2017

On 24.01.2017 at 11:13 UTC a magnitude 3,1 earthquake took place in Katla volcano caldera. This earthquake was close to the area where considerable earthquake swarm had taken place. Since then the earthquake activity has quieted down a bit.

The earthquake activity in Katla volcano during the last 24 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Currently there is a quiet in the earthquake activity, since it happens in pulses with drop or no activity between them. The earthquakes that have been happening and I have recorded are hybrid earthquakes (details here). I don’t know if there have been any low frequency earthquakes or very low frequency earthquakes. I expect this earthquake activity to continue.


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Article updated on 25.01.2017 at 04:38 UTC.

52 Replies to “Sharp increase in earthquake activity in Katla volcano”

  1. another green star for katla right now. What is going on over there, pretty unusual activity for katla at this time of year.

  2. Jon has Katla ever gone at this time of year before in any previous records?

    1. The eruption in 1311 started on January 18th. That eruption is poorly documented (or documents lost over history) so size and how long it lasted is not known.

    1. I guess that is the one now listed as 2.4?

      The quakes that are not verified yet seems to be deeper, that might be indicating something, but on the other hand the depth may be revised.

  3. Looking at GPS positions for Katla, the AUST, ENTA and GOLA stations are definitely showing some strange behavior. They are all on the northern side of the caldera.

  4. if yu(you) look at the 1918 eruption of katla yu can see the image of boris yetsin huw(who) then wasn’t born.his image can be seen in the modern smoke clouds of iceland other world volcanos.for a while in the 1918 smoke an unknown woman appeard(appeared).i know the persons seen in those images were with CHRIST.more imfo can be obtaind at fairfaxunderground then use their serch and serch for donald trump in clouds .

    1. usually earthquake swarms end without an eruption, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it will most likely calm down

      1. I agree that is possible, it just appears this time there is magma working its way to the surface. Personally, I do not think this will be a large eruption but as we know with Katla and it’s geographic location, even a small eruption could cause problems with air traffic and glacier floods on that southern coast.

    2. “Imminent” in geological terms can mean a considerable time. I’m also pretty sure we are – also as pointed out by Jon – seeing a start-up phase for an eruption. But it might take several years of continued build-up until Katla blows.

      Or perhaps it will not blow at all? What about possibilities for a fissure eruption taking place outside Myrdalsjökull?

      Concerning the ongoing swarm, I think it is over for now, as there have been no deep earthquakes indicating rising magma since 6:52 yesterday morning. I believe that one deep EQ caused the latest cluster of shallow EQs today.

      1. I think it will be a small eruption within the caldera. Not knowing a lot about Katla, I would thing a lot of eruptions happen in and around the caldera since the system seems more closed than the systems that sit atop the fissure swarms on the hot spot and the rift zone. Also, I just read 20 of the volcanoes last 21 eruptions (Eldja fissure) were intra-caldera. And it appears that fissure nicely propagated north into the EVZ.

      2. As a complete amateur myself, I would also say that an eruption is imminent and that the awaiting eruption will take place within the caldera. Looking at the historical records, is also plausible to guess it will be a VEI 3, 4 or 5.

        I guess I just wanted to say that the word ‘imminent’ might sound very alarming to many people. And even though an intra-caldera eruption is most likely, it still is nothing but guesswork.

        Nobody knows how Katla will erupt and when it happens.

  5. Like i said; mark my words; she will go before summer is out. Got a feeling… im slightly psychic too ?

  6. I’m noting Jen’s prediction we’ll see how psychot err I mean psychic she is!

    1. I must admit that Jen will probably make me eat my words, since I would not be hear if my Grandfather had not listened to my Grandmother when she said their ship would not make it to North America, and she got very sick. He was pretty upset until that old iceberg hit and sunk that unsinkable ship they were to be on!

  7. Ooh, I used to post under the name Jen. Since the “new” Jen, I have changed it to my full name Jenneke. I am not psychic….. Well Jen, I have seen a lot of predictions here, depending on the moon, sunspots and more. Let’s see whether your vision will turn out right ?

  8. When Katla blows from the Caldera aren’t most of its explosive eruptions though in the VEI 4-6 range though. After seeing the quakes today I was starting to get just a little bit more concerned though. I’m very glad the communitees are being readied should she blow and cause Lahars.

    1. Usually low-mid 4 to low 5. 1918 was pretty much exactly 1km3. I would say the most likely scenario this time is somewhere between Calbuco and Chaiten in bulk output. At worst a repeat of 1918 I would say.

  9. I know of at least one psychic channeling source which has predicted eruption of katla a few months ago. They said that this eruption will be a part of worldwide eruptions of ah which will eventually cut off sunlight and affect crop production. It will also affect air travel. This is the reason I have started keeping watch on the Iceland volcano data. Check out the katla eruption predictions at the website link

    1. Our universe doesn’t allow for psychics or other supernatural things (no ghosts or such things, vampires might exist).

      I don’t know why this is, but what I do know is that it has something to do with Neutrino in our universe. People can remember backwards in time (that is allowed for some reason, as is time travel). That is not being physics, that is just remembering things in backward order (not the same thing, it also almost never happens).

      If physics where to exist in our universe, it would mean that something was wrong with our current understanding of laws of physics.

      Predicting an eruption in Katla volcano is not difficult. All you have to wait for it, maybe a long time, but waiting is all that it takes.

    2. FWIW:

      I’ve sold my ’87 car yesterday.

      After having it for almost 10 years and 8000 km.

      I will always remember it.

  10. Jon this seems to be a long time for iceland to go without a major eruption or at least it seems that way for those of us who have waited and watched katla since the 2010 volcanic aero interruption incident nearby. And while staring at Katla those sneaky boilers Grimsvotn and Bardabunga shot off.
    What do you think…..will Katla be next or will Hecla surprise us this time

    1. I think that would be a million dollar question Donald if anyone knew that I would get the lottery numbers from them.

    2. At the moment it has only been 2 years, the average time between eruptions in Iceland is 3 – 4 years. So not that long in reality, it just feels longer and activity has not yet peaked in terms of eruption activity in Vatnjökull glacier area, it starts to peak from 2030 (maybe 2025).

      Then one or two eruption happens each year or more (based on limited historical data).

      1. I reckon there will be two eruptions from Grimsvotn (recent pattern suggests 2018 and about 2025); and one each from Bardarbunga, Hekla and Katla; between now and 2026.

  11. Seems there was a small swarm at the far eastern edge of the glacier, well outside the caldera. Could it be increased meltwater causing slippage or something like that?

  12. Thursday
    26.01.2017 15:14:39 63.636 -19.166 0.1 km 4.2 99.0 4.2 km E of Goðabunga

  13. Thursday
    26.01.2017 15:16:23 63.641 -19.151 0.0 km 2.9 99.0 4.9 km E of Goðabunga
    26.01.2017 15:15:18 63.633 -19.189 0.0 km 3.0 99.0 3.1 km ESE of Goðabunga

  14. When was the last quake of 4.2 scale in Katla? It seems like activity is increasing apace.

  15. But there were 2 quakes in the summer of 2016. IMO Katla has set to status yellow. Short term.

  16. How about it. Due to hydrothermal activity crashing in the Glescher ice caves. These are recorded by the seimos on the glacier but not by EMSC and USGS. For this purpose, the depth of 0.1 / 0.0 would also fit. EMSC and USGS do not show the tremors.

  17. What are they thinking about? Phreatomagmatic explosion, hydrovulcanism or hydromagmatism

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