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Iceland Mag

Geology

Earthquake swarm in Katla volcano not linked to volcanic activity, scientist says

  • Mýrdalsjökull glacier Mýdalsjökull is an ice cap located in south Iceland. It covers Katla volcano. Photo/Wikipedia/Leon Petrosyan

An earthquake swarm occurred in Katla volcano, south Iclenad, on Sunday night. Although an eruption is considered unlikely, geophysicist Páll Einarsson expects seismic activity will continue around Katla well into the autumn.

A swarm of earthquakes began at 01.47 on 28 August inside the volcano’s caldera. Five quakes measured more than 3 on the Richter scale, the largest measured 4.6 and could be felt in Langidalur in Þórsmörk valley.

Read more:Iceland's melting glaciers could result in more frequent volcanic eruptions

Additionally, glacial water is reportedly flowing into Múlakvísl river, located south of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. According to the Icelandic Met Office, there are high levels of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide in the area. People are urged not to travel near the river due to gas pollution.

Water levels of Bláfjallakvísl glacial river also remain unusually high.

“Earthquakes of this magnitude are not linked to volcanic activity but rather to plate tectonics,” Páll told the National Broadcasting Service.

“Katla is a powerful volcano, however, there’s nothing that points to a possible eruption at this moment. People ask: “When will Katla next erupt?” My answer to that is: “She erupted in 2011. We just didn’t notice.”

Katla volcano, located north of the village Vík í Mýrdal, is one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland. It normally erupts every 40–80 years. Its last large eruption happened 98 years ago, although there have been smaller eruptions that did not break Mýrdalsjökull‘s ice cover, including ones in 2011.

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