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Volcano Katla 100 years anniversary

The volcano Katla has erupted over 20 times since the settlement time of Iceland, so on average every 60 years or so. It has been very various how long time has been between eruptions in Katla the shortest period between eruptions has been 13 years and the longest period is to become 100 years next October.

The shortest eruption in Katla was two weeks and the longest over five months.

Volcanologists believe that there have been three small subglacial eruptions in Katla since the big eruption in 1918. One in the year 1955, when there came a small glacier outburst from underneath Kötlujökull and down Múlakvísl river. Another one in 1999 when there came a small glacier outburst from underneath Sólheimajökull glacier and down the river Jökulsá á Sólheimasandi and the last one in 2011 when there came a small but powerful glacier outburst from underneath Kötlujökull and down the river Múlakvísl.

About the volcanic eruption in Katla in 1918

Last big volcanic eruption in Katla was in 1918. The eruption started around three o'clock on the 12th of October, people living in the area around Vík started to feel earthquakes few hours before they saw the plume rice over the Mýrdalsjökull glacier north of Vík. At the same time, there was a big glacial outburst breaking out from underneath the Kötlujökull glacier east of Vík with water flow estimated at around 100 to 300 thousand km3 per second. The flood did affect many farms east of Mýrdalsandur in Álftaver and Skaftártunga.

The glacial outburst brought big icebergs down to the black sand area Mýrdalssandur and it had a huge amount of dirt as well, moving the coastline further east of Hjörleifshöfði south for about 3 kilometers. The glacial outburst also caused a small tsunami affecting the coastline close to Vík and in Vestmannaeyjar islands.

The plume was estimated to be up to 14 km height and there was a lot of thunder and lightning, that could be seen and heard in many places in Iceland. The volcanic ash spread over a large area and it had a lot of effect on the farming east of Katla in the area called Skaftártunga and Álftaver.

The eruption went on for 24 days and finished on the 4th of November 1918.

No human got killed during the eruption, but many sheep and horses died.

Katla and the last few decades

There have also been some periods for the last few decades where we have seen an increase in the earthquake activity under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier inside the caldera of the volcano Katla. Indicating the volcano is still alive and preparing for the next eruption

What can we expect from Katla? It is hard to say, Katla has been on alert for many years and it's changing in behavior has been difficult to understand and to predict.

We are still waiting for Katla, on the 12th of October, this year will be 100 years anniversary since the big eruption in 1918. There will be a festival in Vík where we will celebrate this remarkable event, with entertainment and educational lectures. So if you are close by Vík you should stop by to find out more about Katla.

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