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Increased Risk of Katla Eruption

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Increased Risk of Katla Eruption

Mýrdalsjökull.

Katla volcano. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Travel service companies are encouraged to reinforce their contingency plans, due to an increased risk of eruption in Katla volcano, mbl.is reports. The South Iceland Police Department has met with representatives of parties in the tourism service in the area, since scientists have concluded that recent seismic activity in the volcano indicates an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption.

Police Chief Kjartan Þorkelsson stated there is an increased emphasis on taking extensive measures earlier, such as closing tourist trails to prevent people from being in areas where the reaction time is shorter than elsewhere.

Kjartan indicated three possible routes a glacial outburst flood could take, in case of an eruption. It could flow down Mýrdalssandur, which is the likeliest, through Sólheimasandur or down Markarfljót river.

A meeting was held Friday to discuss recent seismic activity in Katla, as well as in Bárðarbunga volcano. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the police chiefs of South Iceland, Vestmannaeyjar islands and North Iceland, from the Icelandic Met Office and the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences.

At the meeting, it was noted that since August of last year, seismic activity has been unusually high in Katla, with three earthquakes registering in excess of magnitude 4 and numerous ones in excess of magnitude 3.

A statement sent to the press, following the meeting, reads, “The seismic activity has been accompanied by some increase in geothermal heat. GPS equipment near the caldera rim of Katla indicates an expansion of the top kilometers of the earth’s crust since 2010. When activity in Katla increases, as now is the case, then the likelihood of an eruption must be regarded to be greater than usual, and this is something that monitoring and response parties must keep in mind.”

As for Bárðarbunga volcano, the experts believe many years will go by before magma pressure reaches a level as high as it was prior to the eruption of 2014, but they do not rule out volcanic activity in coming years.

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