Information about Katla volcano

Katla (meaning “Kettle”) is one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanos. Situated in south Iceland, Katla is partially buried underneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier and has a summit of 1512 metres.​


The volcano sits within Katla Geopark, a nature reserve covering 9542 square kilometres (roughly 9% of the country), stretching east from Hvolsvöllur to the black desert sands of Skeiðarársandur, and south from Vatnajökull to Reynisfjara beach. The area contains such natural attractions as the neighbouring ice-cap and volcano, Eyjafjallajökull and the Craters of Laki, in Vatnajokull National Park.


Of all the volcanoes in Iceland, Katla is of the greatest concern to the Icelandic people, having erupted roughly twice per century since 930 AD. As of the present day, Katla’s eruption is long overdue. Over recent years, scientists have measured an increase in seismicity and an inflation of the volcano’s caldera—clear warning signs that an eruption is on its way. The last eruption to break the glacier ice was in 1918, unleashing five times the amount that Eyjafjallajökull—its closest volcanic neighbour—did in 2010. 

Precautionary measures

Local residents receive routine evacuation training for the day Katla erupts. All mobile phones within the scope of a broadcast tower will receive an electronic warning alerting them to the present danger. Afterwards, farmers must shut down their electric fences, allow their cattle to escape to higher ground and, finally, hang a notice on their door stating that they have moved to an evacuation centre in Hella, Hvolsvöllur or Skógar.

When Katla finally erupts again, days of ashfall, tephra clouds, lightning and glacial flash floods are expected to impact the environment immediately. Past eruptions have even caused tidal waves, a concern for the residents of Vik who live in the potential fallout zone. Given the wind direction, it is also a high possibility that Katla’s ash cloud might affect European air travel, as Eyjafjallajökull did at the beginning of the decade. National TV station, RUV, constantly updates Katla’s activity at

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