Iceland’s largest volcano, Katla, was just moved to yellow status.
But that isn’t all that’s concerning. There have also been over 500 earthquakes in Iceland in the last four days.
Experts now believe that a volcanic eruption that could be quite large, may soon occur in Iceland. A series of 40 small earthquakes occurred just North East of Mount Fagradalsfjall two days ago, with the final one felt in Reykjavik, measuring at almost 4 on the Richter scale. Following tremors at Katla in South Iceland and a glacial river flood in Múlakvísl, the Icelandic Met Office has raised the status of the famous volcano on its “Aviation Colour Code Map for Icelandic Volcanic Systems” from green to yellow. People have even been warned to stay away from the Múlakvísl River because of the odor of sulfur.
An earthquake of the magnitude of 3 occurred in the Katla caldera at 00:48 last night followed by a series of smaller tremors. The seismic unrest could be connected to the glacial river flood and not connected to a possible eruption at all but the Iceland Met Office cannot be certain at this point.
Alert code yellow means that the volcano is active but that nothing points to an immenent eruption. If the colour code moves up to orange it means that the volcano is increasing its activity and an eruption is becoming likely. –Iceland Monitor
“It’s quite normal for Reykjanes, there have been a series of quakes there in the past few years,” the Met Office commented. And according to a post on volcano enthusiast site Volcanocafé, eruptions occur in Iceland every three to seven years.
“We have never seen a large powerful intrusion at a Mid Oceanic Ridge at such a well-instrumented place,” Carl Rehnberg wrote on Volcanocafé. “We now know that the initial swarm rapidly transformed from tectonic earthquakes, via volcano-tectonic, to earthquakes consistent with moving magma in a surprisingly short timeframe. As such this is turning into a potential eruption or a state of volcanic unrest.” Rehnberg believes that a major eruption could be just hours away. If, however, the “current unrest” stops, there will be no eruption.
But, he explains, “At the intensity and force of the current seismic unrest, it is likely that an eruption will occur if the seismic crisis is prolonged.”
Rehnberg speculates that there is a 50 percent chance of an eruption, and that chance is increasing by the hour. But the Icelandic Met Office, who are currently not concerned about a major volcanic eruption, citing the recent seismic activity as “normal for an active region”.
As a reminder, in response to concerns that volcanic ash ejected during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland would damage aircraft engines, the controlled airspace of many European countries was closed to instrument flight rules traffic, resulting in the largest air-traffic shut-down since World War II.