Earthquake pulses in Katla volcano

Today (27-November-2022) two pulses of earthquake activity took place in Katla volcano. No eruption happened following this earthquake activity. This earthquake activity is interesting but it is unclear what is going on. This can be normal earthquake activity in Katla volcano, even if the earthquakes are larger than normal or this is a step that is going to result in an eruption happening in the future. At the moment, there’s no way to know what is the fact here. The earthquake pulses did come in two activity spikes, the first one started at 03:41 and lasted until 03:53 UTC. The second earthquake pulse did come at 11:48 and lasted until 12:12 UTC.

Two green stars in Katla volcano inside Katla volcano caldera. The green stars are on a line that is south-west and north-east. Few smaller earthquakes are also in the same area. Two yellow dots are also on the caldera, showing smaller earthquakes in Katla volcano.
Earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Picture from Icelandic Met Office.

The largest earthquakes had a magnitude of Mw3,0 and Mw3,1 and Mw3,4. This is not a dyke intrusion of magma. Such activity behaves differently in a volcano than just surface level earthquake activity as took place in Katla volcano. Based on what I am seeing, it is possible that more earthquake pulses like this are going to happen in next few days or weeks.

People advised not go to Mýrdalsjökull glacier

The police and Icelandic Met Office have now advised people not to go to Mýrdalsjökull glacier. This is after the earthquake swarm earlier today. According to Icelandic Met Office this earthquake swarm is similar to what happened before the minor eruption in Katla volcano in July 2011 that resulted in a glacier flood down Mýrdalssand and destroyed the bridge over the glacier river in that area. All trips to see ice caves in Mýrdalsjökull glacier have been temporarily forbidden by the Icelandic Police.

Two green stars and few red dots in Katla volcano caldera on the east side of the volcano under Mýrdalsjökull glacier
Earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

In July 2011 it took around 24 hours from the start of the earthquake activity then until something happened. If that is going to be case now I don’t know. That this activity is similar to July 2011 eruption is worrying. The eruption in July 2011 was minor and didn’t break the glacier, but it resulted in damage in that area from the glacier flood.

Largest earthquakes now have the magnitude of Mw3,8 and Mw3,0 (few of them). Other earthquakes have been smaller in magnitude but that might change without warning.