The Queen of Icelandic Volcanoes (KH)

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28.03.2013 | 13:00

The Queen of Icelandic Volcanoes (KH)
In the past two days news broke about unusual seismic activity around the volcano Hekla.

Naturally, it became talk of the town.

Officially, a level of uncertainty has been issued and the related parties continue to monitor Hekla closely.

So can you by keeping your eyes on the volcano with this webcam.

Actually, everybody was waiting for Hekla’s neighbor Katla to blow, as an eruption is more than overdue.

Now it seems that Katla’s little sister Hekla is keeping the world on tenterhooks.

Here in Iceland, one usually refers to Hekla and Katla as the “angry sisters.”

I was once told that volcanoes had women’s names in Iceland because their nature was just like women: unpredictable and explosive.

Stratovolcano Hekla is located in South Iceland in the proximity of notorious Eyjafjallajökull and said Katla. Icelanders call it the “queen of Icelandic volcanoes” (Drottning íslenskra eldfjalla).

Its first recorded eruption occurred in 1104. Since then there have been around twenty to thirty outbreaks.

Hekla’s eruptions are extremely varied and quite difficult to predict. But there is a general correlation: the longer Hekla lies dormant, the larger and more catastrophic its opening eruption will be.

Still, no need to panic since the most recent eruption was not too long ago, in 2000.

But for now, nobody can say if Hekla will erupt soon or stay calm for many more years.

Hekla. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
That is the thing with volcanoes, we know they will erupt eventually but no one can really predict when and how powerful the eruption will be.

The recent change in seismic activity might be a hint towards a possible eruption of Hekla, but then we also had news in January 2010 that patches near the summit were not covered with snow anymore and that the pressure of Hekla’s lava chamber had reached levels similar to those before Hekla last erupted. However, no eruption followed.

As I’ve mentioned before, Icelanders aren’t panicking or scared given a possible volcanic eruption but rather curious if not indifferent.

Over the past 500 years, Iceland’s volcanoes have erupted a third of the total global lava output. Not bad for a tiny island.

Being worried and scared doesn’t help anyway and I am confident that the respective authorities are on high alert and have everything under control.

Volcanoes are dangerous, that is for sure, but they are also highly fascinating and partly responsible for Iceland’s great attraction to people ever since men set foot on this island.

In conclusion, we know nothing and everything is possible.

Happy Easter!

Katharina Hauptmann – katha.hauptmann@gmail.com

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