Less risk of large airspace disruption in a Katla volcano eruption

In the evening news in Rúv they tell about research (based on models) that suggest that it is going to be less chance of large airspace disruption like took place in Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in the year 2010. Reason for that is the fact that volcano ash from Katla volcano is normally not as small (less then 1 micron in size) as the volcano ash from Eyjafjallajökull volcano. But this small size of the early ash cloud allowed it too travel longer and hang up longer in the air then from more common ash clouds.

The reason for this is because of the fact that lava from Katla volcano are mostly basaltic and would create Hawaiian eruption if no glacier was on top of Katla volcano. Ash cloud from Surtseyan eruption is more heavy, as the volcano ash particles are larger and more heavy.

This might be a good news for the air travel industry in Europe when Katla volcano starts erupting. But this might create issues for the area closest to Iceland anyway. Depending on wind direction.

The Rúv news about this. Use Google translate at own risk.

Kötlugos hefði ekki sömu áhrif (Rúv.is)

16 Replies to “Less risk of large airspace disruption in a Katla volcano eruption”

  1. Still continuing the talk from last post:
    I think the next one is Grimsvotn. I have a feeling that Katla is not ready yet. Maybe Eyjafjallajokull alleviated the pressure of the chamber of this last one. And since Katla sometimes sleeps a long time, I think we might have to wait a few more years.

    Second, I was watching yesterday earthquakes at Eldgjá. It really seems difficult to distinguish where Eldgjá ends and where Laki begins. Almost as if the fissures from both the volcanoes in the south Iceland and the ones in Vatnajokull reach to the same area. Maybe they are a few kms apart, but geologically that’s very very near. Now, the most interesting thing I realized:

    I would say that Laki belongs to Bardarbunga rather than Grimsvotn, when looking at the map and the earthquakes aligning Bardarbunga, Hamarin and then… Laki, that were formed in these last couple of days. Quite intriguing.

    A few days ago, an earthquake swarm at Grimsvotn, made a line that connected Gjálp, Grimsfjall and went further southwest, not aligning with Laki! What do you guys think?

    Could still mean one more sign that magma is one move along the Bardarbunga long fissure?

    1. First of all; I agree that the possibility for an eruption in Grimsvötn is way higher than for Katla. Grimsvötn would also be my first choice, taking in consideration that Hekla is also on the same ranking, but her eruptions are unpredictable and therefor not really convenient to work with.

      Secondly; it has been proven in many many ways (think of magma composition, simultaneous eruptions, etc) that the Laki-fissure system is connected to Grimsvötn. Bardarbunga’s fissure swarm is located near the Veidivotn crater rows.

      Also; the alignment you saw was probably due to bad quality/location of the earthquakes, this swarm did most probably occur within Grimsvötn.

    2. Well, since they are neighbors…

      Repose time comparison of Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn


      Data note: Bárðarbunga history back to 880, Grímsvötn history back to 960. Beyond this and large skews occur in the data and artificially (in my opinion) make the average repose times much larger.

  2. M5.6 in the Gulf of Cali, the earthquakes seem to progress further north along the fault, interesting development.

  3. Well, that makes it another stress wave headed North. Looks like RonF was correct.

    1. I’ve been doing some reading related to the geological history of the Gulf of Calif, how the peninsula was created, and how its development is related to the development of the mountains that travel along the 3 major faults in So. Calif. From my incipient understanding, I am trying to understand how the stress transfer from movement along the plate in the gulf is contributing to contributing to an even higher stress on these 3 faults due to the fulcrum of movement that exists in the Big Bend portion of the SAF where the plate is locked. A work in progress.

      There have been several recent clusters of activity in the Gulf of Calif recently. Here they are below. We may be seeing the start of a 3rd cluster since Oct 2010. What I am wondering is that if these stress waves are moving like we theorize and that these recent clusters are the start of the wave, if these clusters continue to increase and are in fact adding an accelerated movement/stress to these 3 faults, given the added stress that has been occuring since the 7.2 El Major quake in April 2010, one might conclude that the SAF, etc would be more likely to release this stress resulting from one of these stress waves. In other words, if these stress waves are real and are cumulating stress on the SAF, etc over and above nominal plate movement, one could conclude this would accelerate a major event on the SAF.

      Date/Time UTC,Latitude,Longitude,Magnitude,Depth(Km),Location
      2011-04-26 21:10:26, 27.439, -111.597, 5.6, 15.1, Gulf Of California
      2011-04-26 21:10:25, 27.500, -111.660, 5.1, 10.0, Gulf Of California
      2011-03-12 17:13:01, 25.465, -109.727, 5.1, 10.0, Gulf Of California
      2011-03-12 14:11:04, 25.395, -109.651, 5.3, 12.1, Gulf Of California
      2011-03-12 13:26:02, 25.350, -109.930, 5.5, 17.6, Gulf Of California
      2010-10-28 02:22:26, 23.138, -108.496, 5.3, 9.9, Gulf Of California
      2010-10-25 10:06:14, 24.600, -109.220, 5.0, 10.0, Gulf Of California
      2010-10-21 17:53:14, 24.842, -109.171, 6.7, 10.0, Gulf Of California
      2010-10-20 06:58:15, 24.623, -108.992, 5.8, 10.0, Gulf Of California
      2010-10-20 04:15:37, 24.532, -109.103, 5.5, 10.0, Gulf Of California
      2010-10-20 04:09:44, 24.612, -109.060, 5.7, 14.4, Gulf Of California

      1. Thanks Lurking for the plot.

        Summarizing all my gibberish, I am forming a tenative hypothesis that this movement of the plates south of the SAF in the Gulf is the precursor to a larger event on the SAF. I am not equiped with the data or statistical background to draw a correlation so I will rely on any existing research and with Jon’s permission continue to post it here.

      2. Well, then here is how you should use my plot.

        That trend can be projected into the future. On future quakes, if they fall within one SD of the line, it adds to the soundness of the idea. 2 SD, not so much. 64% of the population of a Gaussian distribution are within one SD of the mean. 95% within 2 SD. Natch, the closer to the line the better it is.

        That deviation was calculated as the SD of the average difference of each point from the line.

        As for stats, I am as much a novice as anyone else, it’s more of a cursory thing picked up to augment the plots and make sense of them.

        Big ‘ole caveat… “stress waves” may not follow a Gaussian distribution.. if they exist at all.

      3. Well, not zero SD… but in the ballpark.

        Here is an updated plot with the adjusted trend line.


        The previous “waves” that I looked at also tended to arc up like this. Just keep in mind that we are both amateurs looking at weird stuff. There is some connection with prevailing ideas about migrating stress on a boundary, but most of that had to do with a fault system in Turkey. This is just something worth ruminating on.

        Also note that the energy releases we are seeing are smaller than the ones leading up to the Mex 7.2. Couple that with the large number of ways that the stress can be distributed once it gets up around the Laguna-Saluda and Imperial faults… it might diminish from view.

  4. Off-topic: My personal plans might be going down the tube if I don’t get a new apartment here in Denmark soon enough. If that happens I move to Iceland.

    1. I am a long-time lurker and never post as I am just learning about volcanoes and earthquakes. Anyway, all of your posts are followed up by interesting discussion by people who seem to have expert knowledge that they, as well as you, are willing to take the time to share. That could maybe make a good base for a discussion forum, which might generate more traffic (and more revenue), especially as one or two Icelandic volcanoes seem ready to go and because of all the fuss over aeroplanes last year. Just a thought.

  5. Hello,
    When Katla erupts do you think it will look like the Eyjafjallajökull eruption did if you were in Iceland watching it?

    Specifically I mean will it look like day turned into night and would you be unable to see your own hand in front of your face? Could it have a 10 km high ash cloud? Would there be tons of lightning bolts?

    I heard Eyjafjallajökull was like that and I’m saving up to go see the next eruption that is like that one but now I’m not sure Katla will be the same.

    1. Yes, for the eye Katla will probably (that is; incase of a regular caldera-fissure) be a lot like Eyafjallajökull. It could be a little larger. (Eyja was VEI4, VEI5’s from Katla are not uncommon)

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