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Possible activity at Katla produces glacial flood (updated) 9 July 2011

Posted by admin in activity reports, Iceland, Katla.
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A possible small eruption under the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in south Iceland has produced a surge of glacial meltwater, a jökulhlaup, which has caused flooding and cut the main road through the area. A bridge has been swept away, and local evacuations are apparently taking place.

The jökulhlaup may be the result of a small eruption at Katla volcano, which lies beneath Mýrdalsjökull, or it could be the result of geothermal activity. Katla ‘is one of Iceland’s most active and is a frequent producer of damaging jökulhlaups, or glacier-outburst floods’, notes the Global Volcanism Program.

A small gallery of pictures of the glacial flood and resulting damage can be found at Vísir (thanks to Jón Frímann for the link).

UPDATE. The flood appears to be subsiding. Cracks have been observed in the glacier in the area from which the flood emerged, but no signs have been found indicating that an eruption of Katla has taken place, reports Iceland Review. The possiblity of eruptive activity cannot be ruled out, however. The Icelandic authorities have said that tourists are safe, despite the inconvenience of the main road around the island being breached, as long as they keep out of ‘the defined danger zone at Mýrdalsjökull and the Mýrdalssandur plains’.

There is a Katla webcam at RÚV.

News
Possibly small eruption in volcano KatlaIceland Review, 9 July 2011
Possible eruption in Katla – RÚV, 9 July 2011
Iceland’s Katla volcano shows signs of activity – Associated Press, 9 July 2011
Cracks in glacier, no sign of Katla eruptionIceland Review, 9 July 2011
Tourists safe in Iceland despite glacial floodingIceland Review, 9 July 2011

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Katla – summary information for Katla (1702-03=)

The Volcanism Blog

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