“Highly Hazardous” Iceland Volcano Katla Releases 5% of Global Volcanic CO2 Emissions


The emissions analyzed by researchers near the Katla volcano seem to be higher than previously estimated. The CO2 emissions could become “highly hazardous” if the Icelandic volcano erupts, warn scientists.

Eight years ago, a smaller volcano called Eyjafjallajokull created a huge ash cloud which also affected air traffic all over the globe.

Kalta – its name translates to “kettle” or “boiler,” last blew in 1918, and 50 years before that, so the volcano is long overdue for the next explosion. This volcano is 25km away from Eyjafjallajokull, on Iceland’s southern coastline.

Sarah Barsotti (Icelandic Meteorological Office) explained in an interview that they don’t know when the volcano will erupt, “just that it will.” She noted that air travel would also be disrupted and it all “depends on the intensity of the eruption and the direction of the winds at the time.”

Kalta Released 12-14 Kilotons of CO2 Per Day

According to a report published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by a team of British and Icelandic researchers, Katla is not a minor gas emitter as previously believed, but a “globally important source of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

Researchers found that this volcano released 12-14 kilotons of CO2 every day, making it the “largest volcanic sources of CO2 on Earth, releasing up to 5 per cent of total global volcanic emissions.”

One of the researchers at the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics at Leeds University, Evgenia Ilyinskaya, explained that this study confirms that something is going on in that volcano, but that they cannot yet assume the volcano is ready to erupt.

She added that the Katla volcano shouldn’t cause a bigger problem than the Eyjafjallajokull event, as it was “very unusual.”

A professor in geophysics, Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson (University of Iceland) wrote on social media that this issue needs to treated with caution and the emissions measurements were “remarkable.”

He too concluded that it was too early to link the larger CO2 emission with an imminent eruption.


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