“When you study a volcano you get an idea about its behaviour in the same way you judge a person once you get to know them well.”- Professor Pall Einarsson, Iceland University Institute of Earth Sciences

Katla's 1918 eruption

Last week the BBC reported that yet another volcano in Iceland, Katla, is gnashing its teeth and threatening to blow its top. If  Katla erupts, experts say there could be global effects such as severe flooding and climate change.

BBC reported, “Mighty Katla has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland’s east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.”

According to Don Nardo, author of the Morgan Reynolds title Extreme Threats: Volcanoes, a caldera is a large crater of depression that forms during a volcanic eruption.

Katla has been moving and shaking lately, which is often a sign that an eruption could be on the horizon. Ford Cochran, National Geographic’s expert on Iceland, told BBC that in the last month alone there have been more than 500 tremors.

BBC reported that in 1783, Katla’s volcanic chain erupted so much in an eight month span that the ash and gases produced by the eruptions “killed one in five Icelanders and half of the country’s livestock.” Cochran said that the eruptions also changed the planet’s climate, causing a cooling that in turn caused famine in several places around the world.

Katla is certainly not the only volcanic threat to our planet. But the knowledge that just one volcanic chain such as Katla’s can wreak so much havoc is unsettling at best. Knowing the fickleness of volcanoes, as Don Nardo prophesied, “humanity faces a scary volcanic future.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on volcanoes and climate change, check out the Morgan Reynolds series Extreme Threats.

Extreme Threats: Volcanoes by Don Nardo (ISBN 9781599351186)

Extreme Threats: Climate Change by Don Nardo (ISBN 9781599351193)

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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