Katla volcano has magnitude 4,3 earthquake

Today (26.01.2017) at 15:14 UTC a magnitude 4,3 earthquake took place in Katla volcano. This earthquake was felt in Vík í Mýrdal (village) and nearby area. A second earthquake with the magnitude of 3,0 took place few moments after the largest earthquake, a magnitude 2,9 earthquake (3rd largest) took place soon after the magnitude 3,0 earthquake. Other earthquakes have been smaller in magnitude (at the moment).

The earthquake in Katla volcano, green star is the magnitude 4,3 earthquake. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The magnitude 4,3 earthquake in Katla volcano as it appeared on my geophone in Heklubyggð (distance ~53 km). This image is under Creative Commons licence, please see CC Licence website for more details.

No major change has happened in tremor plots around Katla volcano following this earthquake. Unclear signals on one SIL stations suggest that hydrothermal areas might have gotten exited just before the main earthquake, but that is unconfirmed and unclear if it can be confirmed at all.

This article is going to be updated as new activity happens (if there is a reason to do so).

Update 27.01.2017

Science council of the Civil protection agency in Iceland (Almannavarnir) has issued the following statement. This is a rude translation of that statement since none has been issued in English yet.

Increased risk of eruption in Katla

Earthquake activity in Katla has been unusually high since August 2016, with three earthquakes larger than magnitude 4,0 and many more earthquakes with magnitude 3,0. Earthquake activity is shallow and spread around the caldera. No harmonic tremor has been detected following this earthquake activity. Following this increase in activity small increase in geothermal heat has been observed. GPS station show that small inflation has been taking place since 2010 in the top kilometres of the crust. When activity increases in Katla, as has been the case now, the risk of eruption grows and that has to be considered by the emergency response teams.

(The rest is about Bárðarbunga, just the basic translation of it.)

Since September 2015 Bárðarbunga has been inflating slowly under the caldera. It might be many years until the next eruption, until magma pressure is at the same levels before the eruption started in 2014. It is impossible to exclude new eruptions in next few years. Limited measurements are on geothermal activity in Bárðarbunga, to the best knowledge little has changed in last few months. It is important to monitor geothermal activity due to risk of water collection in the caldera.

My note: Water collection increases the risk of sudden glacier flood from Bárðarbunga.

The news announcement in Icelandic

Fundur í Vísindaráði almannavarna
Auknar líkur á eldgosi í Kötlu (Rúv News)


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Article updated on 27.01.2017 at 18:53 UTC.

51 Replies to “Katla volcano has magnitude 4,3 earthquake”

  1. Jon, if I am wrong then I am wrong, but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Katla might not do the big rumble of earthquake activity before she erupts because Katla she is already full to bursting, could this be plausible?

    1. I don’t think so, since the magma has to break the crust before an eruption happens (that crust is reasonably hard to crack for the magma). There is going to be a earthquake swarm before an eruption, a swarm that is going to be felt nearby to Katla volcano.

  2. I am sure that Katla is going to erupt shortly as predicted in the channeling site I mentioned. They made a prediction in November and that’s the reason I am here. Its not only about Katla. There will be volcano eruptions all over the world and ash will cover the upper atmosphere and cut out sunlight, leading to crop failure. This is what they said about katla…
    Katla which is a large Icelandic volcano is very soon to start erupting. There will be little or no warning by way of seismic activity that this is the case. The eruption will shoot a large amount of ash into the atmosphere which will cause much disruption, especially to air travel as has been seen before in the recent past
    The key thing about this eruption is not only its sheer size, but also the fact that it will continue to pour ash into the atmosphere for an extended period. During this period there will be other volcanoes around the world which start erupting such that you will become aware that you are in fact witnessing the start of the phase of the changes you have dubbed the ‘dim period’
    They followed up with this prediction….
    We mentioned to you earlier today that the level of volcanic activity around the globe is about to increase really quite dramatically
    It’s been fairly quiet for quite a while now. Of course there are always the fairly low-key and localised eruptions which are taking place, and these are well documented, but it is the large scale eruptions which are about to occur that will really grab the headlines
    We don’t want to over-dramatise the situation but the time is now right for these volcanic events to take place
    We’ve already mentioned one which is on the island of Iceland. In a short while we confidently predict that there will be at least one of these types of eruption taking place on most of the significant land masses of the world. So most of the large continents of the world will have at least one of these massive eruptions taking place
    It will come as no surprise that these eruptions will not be short-lived; they will continue for an extended period and probably the most important effect will be to pour enormous quantities of ash into the atmosphere
    you’ve seen eruptions on this scale in the last few years, and you’ve seen the disruption that they cause, and of course this will be attendant with these coming events, but it will be the volume of ash; it will be the extended period of the eruption; and it will be the combined effect of these eruptions and others which will follow, that will catch the attention of the world media
    Because this is not going to be a short-lived event; this is not going to be over as quickly as more recent eruptions of this scale. These are going to run and run, and the ash which they produce will be held in the upper atmosphere for an extended period of time, and the volume of ash will build
    Interesting times ahead !

      1. I wouldn’t have bothered if the prediction related to the next decade, let alone next 50 million years. The prediction is about events taking place in the next 6 months to a couple of years. And the effects would last for a decade. The series of events supposed to take place is nothing like what you have seen before. Let’s see 😉

      2. But…but…the map doesn’t seem to tell what will happen to Iceland? =/ 😀

        Answering (partly) my own question: I think it will continue to grow, in particular to southeast as the hotspot seems to be moving that way. If the climate keeps on warming, I hope it will also drift northwards so that future puffin generations may thrive.

      3. I’d be cool with nonsense replies like this being deleted, like, please feel free to censor your blog, I would.

    1. Sorry but this rubbish is always talked about by man geology is fact this is fiction

    2. Satanu, there is no way to know or predict this. These predictions come out of the fear of what is occurring now in the world with all the social upheaval and countries getting ready for war. Non-scientific beliefs, especially of a religious nature or doomsday nature, are not the purview of this blog. Attempts to do so result in ridicule and shaming. Its Jon’s board so he sets the rules. I know, its very tempting and I have given into this temptation many times. There are other sites for this type of speculation.

    3. I wish nutters like you stayed in your own little echo chambers, or are you crazy enough to think educated informed people are actually going to believe you?? Go away.
      Thank you Jon for your blog, i check it daily. Donation on its way

      1. Thanks for the support. 🙂

        There isn’t much I can do about people ignoring the facts. Lucky for me, reality doesn’t care about people ignoring it when it comes and walks all over them.

  3. Thanks Jon, did you get the donation OK ,and will give you a donation every 4 weeks, I know its not a lot but hope it helps you.

      1. I would say thanks, but donations of 1€ results in me getting 0€ since everything goes into cost for PayPal (since PayPal always takes its share). At best I get few cents.

        Update: I get 0,62€ from a 1€ donation.

  4. Jón, isn’t this the largest earthquake during the current activity period (since last September)?

    Remembering the events of Fall, I wonder if/when Katla’s status goes from green to yellow again. There have not been quite as many eq’s as in October, but the timing compared to Katla’s usual ways is now more unusual and the earthquakes now seem to come in swarms with at least one 3 or bigger among them. Though, I’m sure that other known facts are also considered when making those decisions.

    1. This earthquake is larger then the earthquake activity in September, those earthquakes where only magnitude 3,9 (see linked articles). Largest earthquakes took place on 29th August-2016 and had magnitude of 4,5 and 4,6.

      Based on current pattern. I’m expecting more earthquake activity, but it happens in pulses with quiet period between them.

      August 2016.


      September 2016.


      1. Thanks for the links, Jón!
        I think in late August I was still recovering from a trip to Iceland and enjoying my copy of The Living Earth, little knowing that in fact I could and soon also would follow the activity of Icelandic volcanoes easily from my own couch.

      2. Jon, please don’t take this the wrong way but you are using the word “then” when you should be using “than”. Then is time dependent as in if that happens, then this will happen. Than is used to compare such as in this will happen rather than that happening. You are not the only one to do this. It is a very common mistake even with people who are English speaking natives. Have a good one Gary.
        P.S. see here http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/than_then.htm

      3. @Gary Meyers, Thanks. I try to use English correctly, but I’m always mixing up the rules for Icelandic, English, Danish, German (learning) and Spanish (learning) at the moment. I’ll do my best having this correct.

  5. Shes warming up. Just hoping that if it does go everyone gets outta the way quick enough ?

      1. Wow. 2 hours. I bet most/ all people living close by know the risk so hopefully are pre- prepared.

  6. It is getting close to 99 years since last major eruption in Katla volcano. If nothing happens in 2017, the 100 years without major eruption is in 2018.

  7. Jon… what is the current concensus over the magma chamber under myrdasljokull…Several separate magma chambers or one big one or several possibly interlocking?

  8. Would be nice to be able to see those magma chambers , someone come up with an idea how to shoot dye in there and xray it. lol I think your wrong about Iceland though, as it is on a riftal zone it will get larger as that rift opens more I figure in 25 million years it will be more the size of Australia !

  9. What are they thinking about? Phreatomagmatic explosion, hydrovulcanism or hydromagmatism ? I think this is happening right under the glacier

    1. It doesn’t state it explicitly but it seems this statement also encompasses Bárðarbunga – odd that they don’t mention the volcano by name but that’s what they must be talking about:

      (Giggle translate)

      “Following the large eruption of the volcano and subsidence of the caldera decreased kvikuþrýsingur much under the volcano. During these events was the very high seismic activity in the caldera that fell largely down to the end of the eruption in late February 2015. Seismic activity began again in September 2015 and has remained high since then with dozens of tremors of magnitude M3,0 to M4,5 . Deformation measurements show that the expansion began immediately after the eruption and magma has been accumulated steadily under the caldera caldera of the time. Probably many years until the dynamic pressure reaches similar levels as before the eruption of 2014, but can not rule out volcanic activity in the coming years. Limited measurements of geothermal activity, but as far as is known, has been little change in recent months in the caldera. It is important to keep abreast of geothermal heat for possible water retention within the carton.”

      1. Giggle error: the Icelandic original does mention BB:
        “Í kjölfar stórgossins í Holuhrauni og öskjusigsins í Bárðarbungu lækkaði kvikuþrýsingur mikið undir eldfjallinu.”

  10. An explanation of the Toba supervolcano eruption has recently been published. An excerpt from the ScienceDaily article– ‘The low ratio of 18O to 16O contents in the crystal rims indicate that something in the magmatic system changed drastically just before the big eruption. The explanation behind these chemical signatures is that the magma melted and assimilated a large volume of a local rock that itself is characterized by a relatively low ratio of 18O to 16O . This rock type also often contains a lot of water, which may be released into the magma, producing steam, and thereby an increased gas pressure inside the magma chamber. This rapidly increased gas pressure eventually allowed the magma to rupture the overlying crust, and send thousands of cubic kilometres of magma into the atmosphere,’ explains Dr. Frances Deegan at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University.


  11. Jon just to let you know the statement should say it is impossible instead of not impossible. 🙂

  12. Jon; why are some websites saying that katla hasnt inflated? I thought she had?!

  13. Jon; why are some websites saying that katla hasnt inflated? I thought she had?!
    …and why are people telling you how to write??!! I think its rather rude- jon does a fantastic job writing up; i couldnt do it in icelandic, german or any language other than english. Who cares about whether he spells wrong or mixes words round- i know what hes on about and i think many other people do! ☺

    1. I don’t know why some websites say that. The fact is that Katla volcano has inflated a lot in recent decades and has in recent months had some localized inflation inside the caldera (source: Icelandic Met Office, GPS data).

      The problem here is that since monitoring started (around 1990-ish) Katla volcano was already inflated to the point it was ready to erupt (as the idea goes), that suggests that more inflation is not going to happen. With next magma injection from deep mantle there is going to be an eruption.

      The data now (earthquake swarms) suggests that minor injection of fresh magma from the depth. The pathway for the magma seems to be clear from the deep mantle, based on the lack of deep earthquakes in Katla volcano.

    2. Learning languages is tough. Folks aren’t being rude, just trying to help him with grammar. Lord only knows my Spanish is rusty as heck and I take any help I can get. I’ve been reading Jon’s site for over 2 years and his English continues to improve. Most folks who offer grammar and spelling suggestions are pretty awesome about it.

    3. Indeed Jen, nobody cares if Jón isn’t using the English grammar properly on his blog, but the followers of his blog make the corrections to Jón’s use of English with the best and politest intentions. Lets not forget that Jón lives in Denmark and like all Scandinavian countries is English a second language there. And also here jn the Netherlands. I’m sure sometimes Jón has to write official letters to Danish businesses.
      We learn a lot about volcanies from Jón, why shouldn’t he learn proper English from his readers?
      From time to tine I write emails to a woman from Venezuela who works in Amsterdam. She makes mistakes in her dutch and I asked her once if she would mind if I corrected her and she said: not at all. It improves her chances in Holland.
      I hope I’ve not offended you with this reply, it’s not my intention!

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