Katla is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland and is characterised by persistent seismicity. It is partly covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and its historic activity is dominated by phreatomagmatic eruptions within the caldera associated with catastrophic glacial floods. In July 2011 a sudden jökulhlaup was released from the glacier, associated with tremor, elevated seismicity inside the caldera and a new cluster of seismicity on the south flank. This was likely caused by a hydrothermal or magmatic event, possibly a small subglacial eruption. Similar unrests occurred in 1955 and 1999. We have identified changes of the seismicity pattern coinciding with the 2011 unrest, suggesting a modification in the volcanic system. It may be speculated that if the persistent seismicity at Katla is an indication of a pressurized magma system ready to erupt, small events like those of 1955, 1999 and 2011 may trigger larger eruptions in the future. We have also conducted a pilot study of the geology of the southern flank, where the new seismicity is recorded, and identified sources for flank eruptions in the recent eruptive history of Katla. These include rhyolitic domes and surtseyan craters. Therefore, a wide range of volcanic processes have to be taken into account as possible source for the new seismicity and volcanic hazard.

The 2011 unrest at Katla volcano: seismicity and geological context

Giulia Sgattoni
;
Federico Lucchi;Claudio Antonio Tranne
2019

Abstract

Katla is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland and is characterised by persistent seismicity. It is partly covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and its historic activity is dominated by phreatomagmatic eruptions within the caldera associated with catastrophic glacial floods. In July 2011 a sudden jökulhlaup was released from the glacier, associated with tremor, elevated seismicity inside the caldera and a new cluster of seismicity on the south flank. This was likely caused by a hydrothermal or magmatic event, possibly a small subglacial eruption. Similar unrests occurred in 1955 and 1999. We have identified changes of the seismicity pattern coinciding with the 2011 unrest, suggesting a modification in the volcanic system. It may be speculated that if the persistent seismicity at Katla is an indication of a pressurized magma system ready to erupt, small events like those of 1955, 1999 and 2011 may trigger larger eruptions in the future. We have also conducted a pilot study of the geology of the southern flank, where the new seismicity is recorded, and identified sources for flank eruptions in the recent eruptive history of Katla. These include rhyolitic domes and surtseyan craters. Therefore, a wide range of volcanic processes have to be taken into account as possible source for the new seismicity and volcanic hazard.
Giulia Sgattoni, Federico Lucchi, Páll Einarsson, Olafur Gudmundsson, Gianfilippo De Astis, Claudio Antonio Tranne
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/738184
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