Katla, a giant volcano hidden beneath the ice cap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, is busy filling its magma chambers, new research confirms. An eruption in Katla would dwarf the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, scientists have warned. The volcano is long “overdue” for an eruption, as it has historically erupted once every 40-80 years. The last known eruption in Katla was in 1918.
A group of Icelandic and British geologists have recently finished a research mission studying gas emissions from the volcano. The studies showed that Katla is emitting enormous quantities of CO2. The volcano releases at least 20 kilotons of C02 every day. Only two volcanoes worldwide are known to emit more CO2, Evgenia Ilyinskaya a volcanologist wit with the University of Leeds told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV.
These enormous CO2 emissions confirm significant activity in the volcano, Evgenia told RÚV: “It is highly unlikely that these emissions could be produced by geothermal activity. There must also be a magma build up to release this quantity of gas.”
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All of Iceland‘s major volcanoes showing unusually high levels of activity
Growing seismic activity in the major volcanic systems of Iceland has put scientists and civil protection authorities on alert. While there are no signs of immediate eruption in any of the major volcanic systems, growing seismic activity, growing geothermal activity and the expansion of the crust in these systems indicates they are all in an unusually active phase.
Iceland has at least 30 active volcanic systems, all of which are under constant observation by scientists. The four most active volcanoes and volcanic systems in Iceland are Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn both of which are located beneath Vatnajökull glacier, Katla, which is hidden under Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the cone volcano Hekla in South Iceland. Each has shown signs of growing activity in the past few months a geophysicist Páll Einarsson told the local newspaper Fréttablaðið.
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