Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull's Counterpart Long Overdue for Eruption

Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano has for the past week heavily disrupted European travel and with yet another blast of ash spewing from the mountain's bleeding crater, everyone wants to know – what's next!? Well, that brings up an interesting point...

Over the past couple days tremors from the active Eyjafjallajökull have sparked the interest of vulcanologist's who are studying a nearby dormant volcano by the name of Katla. Katla, located only 12 miles from the epicenter of last week's eruption, is connected to Eyjafjallajökull by a network of magma channels. Although it is currently showing no signs of an eruption, the last three times Eyjafjallajökull erupted, so did Katla. Additionally, Katla awakens every 80 years or so, and having last exploded in 1918, it is now slightly overdue.

Experts say Katla's substantial ice cap is a major worry and an eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into higher altitudes than its smaller neighbor. This is because the dormant Katla is buried under ice 500 meters thick beneath the massive Myrdalsjokull glacier, one of Iceland's largest. That means it has more than twice the amount of ice that the current eruption has burned through, thus threatening a new and possibly longer aviation standstill across Europe – and 'perhaps' affecting the global climate.

Only time will tell if history repeats itself, but if patterns mean anything, there is a good chance a bigger, more dangerous Icelandic volcano lurks.