There are no definite signs of an imminent eruption in the sub-glacial volcano Katla in south Iceland although regular series of minor earthquakes and increased geothermal heat indicate that the volcano is expanding. Katla remains under close observation.
Mýrdalsjökull, which covers Katla. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Scientists and the Department of Civil Protection have concluded that while there is no imminent risk of a volcanic eruption, these may be long-term indications that the volcano is preparing to erupt. However, similar events have occurred before without them leading to an eruption, Morgunbladid reports.
“People are very calm about it. There will be a public meeting in Vík on Monday with Magnús Tumi [Gudmundsson, geophysicist],” said Kjartan Thorkelsson, chairman of the Civil Protection Committee of the counties Rangárvallasýsla and Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla.
“The Department of Civil Protection will also meet on Monday and decide what happens next, what we take from the public meeting. We are well prepared if Katla were to erupt,” he added.
Ingi Már Björnsson, farmer at Sudur-Foss in Mýrdalshreppur, agreed that locals are calm. “I was born and raised here and one has always dismissed talk of Katla being on the verge of erupting, though I find these circumstances a little different than before.”
“One is a bit more conscious and has more belief that something like this could happen after the share that we’ve had here,” Björnsson added, referring to the three volcanic eruptions that have hit south Iceland in the past two years: Fimmvörduháls in March 2010, Eyjafjallajökull in April 2010 and Grímsvötn in May 2011.
“It would be best for the agriculture and tourism industry if the eruption were to start in the autumn. The ideal time would be November when the slaughter season is behind us and all the livestock is inside. None of the highland pastures have been herded yet so it wouldn’t be good if a volcanic eruption were to start now,” Björnsson concluded.
Sheep herding and roundup in south Iceland will begin next weekend.