Scientists have observed the Icelandic volcano Katla releasing higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and came to the conclusion that an eruption could be imminent.
The volcano’s name means “kettle,” and it’s 1,512 meters tall, but about 700 meters are buried under the Myrdalsjokull glacier. Last time when Katla erupted was in October 1918, and records showed that it would erupt once every 50 years. This means that an eruption was long overdue.
Leeds University scientists wrote their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, warning that the higher CO2 emissions coming from the volcano could be a sign of an imminent eruption. Currently, the volcano releases 12-14 kilotons of CO2 per day, which means that the magma chambers might be filling up.
Katla Produces 5% of Total Global Volcanic Emissions
Evgenia Ilyinskaya and her team at the university explained that Katla is “a globally important source of atmospheric CO2 in spite of being previously assumed to be a minor gas emitter,” adding that it is now considered a “highly hazardous” landmark, which accounts for “five per cent of total global volcanic emissions.”
The team also urges “more accurately quantified […] climate assessments”.
Evgenia also added that the imminent eruption would not be as big as the Eyjafjallajokull event, which was “unusual,” due to the ash cloud that halted air traffic all over the globe.
However, Sarah Barsotti (Icelandic Meteorological Office) added that the volcano will erupt, but that “there is no way of telling when it will erupt.”
Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a geophysics professor at the University of Iceland, stressed that this warning is premature and that there is an insufficient data that records the “normal” levels of the gas for Katla:
“It’s possible that Katla works as a kind of vent or exhaust channel for gasses that are emitted from magma deep under the southern part of the volcano belt.”
Nonetheless, the volcano is closely observed.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere