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June 14, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Katla: Boom and Gloom

Good News/Bad News with Iceland’s Katla Volcano.

The Good News: It’s easier to pronounce.

The Bad News: Everything else.

Katla Erupts in 1918. Photo: Wiki

Even before the April eruption of the nearly unpronounceable volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, geologists and volcanologists would tell you that the Katla Volcano is the one that has their attention. Under approximately 2,000 feet of ice, the past two eruptions were unable to penetrate the cap known as the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Penetrating the ice this time seems to be a foregone conclusion.

This past weekend six small earthquakes (four on Saturday, two on Sunday) gently rocked the area giving experts even more reason to suspect an eruption in the near future. There have been no eruptions today, but Katla remains seismically active. At times the magma beneath the glacier (or anywhere else, for that matter) will move in "surges" further resulting in the sporadic nature of the quakes.

Should Katla erupt in the coming weeks, the plume of ash could blast through the troposphere and into the stratosphere. Katla has significantly more firepower than Eyjafjallajökull and the resulting ash cloud, according to some experts and, depending on the amount of ash, could lead to cooling on a global scale.

Iceland’s volcanic "neighborhood" includes Hekla, Askja and Grimsvotn. All of these volcanoes may be considered "on deck" and capable of their own explosive eruptions.

Iceland’s Volcanic System. Image: Wiki

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