Giant Icelandic volcano is ‘about to erupt’ on scale that dwarfs explosion which halted air travel across Europe

Sunday, September 23, 2018
By Paul Martin

Scientists have warned that Katla is showing clear signs it’s going to blow
Katla is a close neighbour to Eyjafjallajokull that erupted devastatingly in 2010
British and Icelandic scientists say Katla is releasing C02 on a ‘huge’ scale

23 September 2018

A giant and ‘highly hazardous’ volcano in Iceland is showing signs that it could erupt on a scale that dwarfs the explosion that disrupted worldwide air travel eight years ago.

Scientists have warned that Katla, a close neighbour to Eyjafjallajokull that erupted in 2010, is showing clear signs it’s going to blow for the first time since 1918 and its not a matter of if, but when.

Katla’s cone is hidden beneath a glacier on a 5,000ft peak, making monitoring its activity difficult but Icelandic and British scientists have found by airborne measurement techniques that Katla is releasing carbon dioxide on a ‘huge’ scale.

This sort of activity indicates its magma chambers are filling and could signal a huge eruption.

Sarah Barsotti, co-ordinator for volcanic hazards at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told The Sunday Times: ‘There is no way of telling when it will erupt, just that it will.’

The translation of Katla is ‘kettle’ or ‘boiler’ and its ‘overdue’ eruption is likely to overshadow the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010, which led to thousands of passengers being stranded as the ash plume from the volcano halted air traffic across all of Europe, with a domino effect across the world.

Barsotti said the impact of the eruption on air travel ‘depends on the intensity of the eruption and the direction of the winds at the time’.

Evgenia Ilyinskaya, a research fellow in the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics at Leeds University, said an eruption is overdue with Katla having previously erupted every 50 years on average pre-1918 when it last blew its top completely.

Ilyinskaya and her fellow scientists — whose report in to the volcano was published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters — found that Katla was releasing between 12 and 24 kilotons of carbon dioxide every day.

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