Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Geology

Calm on the Katla front, but popular travel destinations close to the volcano remain closed

By Staff

  • Under the ice cap Katla volcano is located below a the top of the 400 to 600 m (1.312-1.968 ft ) thick ice sheet of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is Iceland's fourth largest ice cap covering 596 km2 (230 sq mi). Vísir/Haraldur Guðjónsson

The seismicity in Katla volcano has been low in the last days according to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) but a few earthquakes have been detected within the caldera. The aviation code for Katla is still yellow and popular travel destinations close to Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the home of the sub-glacial volcano, remain closed for traffic.

There is no sign of volcanic tremor reports IMO and further increase in geothermal water in the rivers around Mýrdalsjökull glacier has not increased.

On Friday (30 September) IMO raised the aviation colour code for Katla from green to yellow in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures. This alert is issued when a volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.

Katla is located below the ice cap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier in South Iceland and is one of Iceland's most feared volcanoes due to its size and how close it is to village Vík í Mýrdal (population 318). Vík is a very popular travel destination on the south coast. It’s located at the bottom of the volcano, only 15 km (9.3 mi) away from Mýrdalsjökull glacier’s edge.

Read more: Iceland's most notorious volcano is kept under close surveillance
Read more: A guide to Iceland’s glaciers, what to do there & their claim to fame

The closely monitored magma chamber of Katla is 2 km (1.24 mi) below the ice cap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

imo_map_2016-10-03.png

Earthquakes locations Katla is located where the cluster of blue dots are on Iceland's south coast. The map shows the locations of earthquakes during the last 48 hours. Image by The Iceland Met Office

The colour codes
Colour codes are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano's status. Notifications are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity, and are accompanied by text with details (as known) about the nature of the unrest or eruption, especially in regard to ash-plume information and likely outcomes.

  1. GREY Volcano appears quiet but is not monitored adequately. Absence of unrest unconfirmed.
  2. GREEN Volcano is in typical background, non-eruptive state.
  3. YELLOW Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level
  4. ORANGE Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.
  5. RED Eruption is imminent or in progress - significant emission of ash into atmosphere likely.

Related content

Editor's Picks