Geology And Geophysics

Concerns Increase Eyjafjallajokull could Lead to a Katla Explosion



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In the aftermath of the massive Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland on April 14, 2010, scientists are concerned that this wave of volcanic activity could trigger another nearby volcano to erupt in the near future.

As Eyjafjallajokull settles down and calms its fury, the scientific community has turned its attention to its neighbors, particularly the Katla volcano.

If history is any indicator, the next eruption in Iceland could come from Katla. The past three times Eyjafjallaokull experienced an eruption, Katla soon followed. The other concern with Katla is the fact this volcano tends to become active approximately every 80 years.

That being the case, an awakening of Katla is more likely to occur sooner than later since the last eruption was back in 1918; the time is about right and the conditions might be ripe for another volcanic explosion in southeastern Iceland.

Katla is located about 12 miles away from Eyjafjallajokull and is buried under one of Iceland's massive glaciers, the Myrdalsjokull. The two volcanoes are linked through several channels of magma.

As of April 21, 2010, Katla has not shown any dramatic levels of activity, however, scientists are still very worried that tremors already occurring from within the earth could set off a whole new round of volcanic eruptions in the Icelandic region. Specialists have also indicated it is not uncommon for one volcano to trigger another one to erupt.

Residents of the region are reportedly making plans for evacuation in the event Katla flares up with a lively awakening because they wouldn't have extended periods of time to leave the area. The village of Vik, with approximately a population of 300, has already begun evacuation drills; reports are saying they are getting prepared in the event a disaster takes place.

Scientists say if a Katla eruption occurs, the force could be ten times stronger than Eyjafjallajokull and shoot larger and higher plumes of ash into the air. Based on the vast amount of ash Eyjafjallajokull shot up and the level of disruption it caused, this amount of volcanic material coming from Katla is hard to fathom.

The amount of water and ash that could potentially seep through Katla's opening would be a tremendous amount. If the wind conditions were strong, the ash could end up being carried and streamed across Europe all over again.

At this time Katla is experiencing minor tremors, but since its neighbor, Eyjafjallajokull, is still making movement as it settles down, Katla readings are more difficult to predict because of the activity already going on.

Scientists will be watching Katla very closely in the meantime.

Additional source: NJ.com

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