Katla, Iceland’s largest volcano, might erupt at any time, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. The agency issued a warning about a possible eruption after two magnitude 4.5 earthquakes stuck the region on Monday.

Explosion imminent?

Scientists cannot say for sure Katla is about to explode, but they are definitely concerned. With the recent surge of seismic activity in the area, the meteorological office intends to closely monitor the volcano for signs of an eruption. Similar seismic activity was measured in 2012 and 2014, but no eruption occurred. Although this could quickly change, there are not currently any “signs of increased ground formation” or other indicators that magma is moving below the surface.

Gassy water

The office has detected an increase in sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide in the Múlakvísl River. While the increased gases present in the water do not necessarily predict a looming Katla volcano eruption, they are related to increased seismic activity. When the Earth moves, these gases are heated by magma and rise to the surface.

A history of restlessness

Katla, located in southern Iceland about 87 miles (140 kilometers) from Reykjavik, is almost 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) tall and usually erupts once every 50 years. It was nearly 100 years ago, in 1918, since the volcano had a major eruption. Scientists are getting nervous now since a large eruption is “overdue.” However, Katla has experienced some smaller eruptions over the years.

Katla erupted once in 1955 and again in 1999, but neither was strong enough to break through the ice at the volcano’s top.

Recent volcano activity

Six years ago, a nearby volcano erupted that caused numerous problems across Europe. When Eyjafjallajokull exploded and spewed volcanic ash into the atmosphere, thousands of flights were canceled across the continent and disrupted travel for several weeks.

With new surges in seismic activity occurring in the region, the Icelandic Meteorological Office has made monitoring signs for a potential Katla volcano eruption a top priority.

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