Scientists have warned that a volcano in Iceland is about to erupt, with one researcher saying that “there is no way of telling when it will erupt, just that it will.”
The Sunday Times reported that Katla, which is 5,000 feet tall, is showing signs it is “about to erupt.”
Researchers from Leeds University in the United Kingdom said that the volcano, Katla, is due for an eruption. It last erupted in 1918, having previously erupted every 50 years, according to the Evening Standard, citing research in the Geophysical Research Letters.
In the journal, the team said: “Through high-precision airborne measurements and atmospheric dispersion modelling, we show that Katla, a highly hazardous subglacial volcano which last erupted 100 years ago, is one of the largest volcanic sources of CO2 on Earth, releasing up to five per cent of total global volcanic emissions.”
Researchers said that the volcano is releasing dozens of kilotons of carbon dioxide every day—amongst the most in the world.
“Katla, a highly hazardous subglacial volcano which last erupted 100 years ago, is one of the largest volcanic sources of CO2 on Earth, releasing up to 5% of total global volcanic emissions. This is significant in a context of a growing awareness that natural CO2 sources have to be more accurately quantified in climate assessments and we recommend urgent investigations of other subglacial volcanoes worldwide,” reads an abstract of the study.
Sarah Barsotti, coordinator for volcanic hazards at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said to The Sunday Times that “there is no way of telling when it will erupt, just that it will.”
Evgenia Ilyinskaya, a researcher with the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics at Leeds University, said that “something is going on” due to the carbon dioxide buildup.
She said, “There must also be a magma build-up to release this quantity of gas. This is a clear sign we need to keep a close eye on Katla. She isn’t just doing nothing, and these findings confirm that there is something going on.”
In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted a number of times, leading to heavy air travel disruptions across Europe.
Eyjafjallajökull lies about 16 miles west of Katla.
One Researcher Skeptical
Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a professor in geophysics at the University of Iceland, said that more research is needed before any conclusions can be made about the volcano’s imminent eruption. In a Facebook post, he said there is a lack of historic data on gas emissions from the mountain.
He wrote: “Even more unclear is whether these massive emissions are directly connected to an underground magma chamber, or what [Katla’s] connection to the magma chamber in the volcano is.”
“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.”