Fear grows that Iceland’s largest volcano may erupt following earthquakes

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An Icelandic flag flies over Vik, a village sitting at the base of the Myrdalsjokull glacier, which is part of the ice cap sealing the Katla volcano, in Vik, on April 22, 2010. Katla, a volcano 10 times more powerful than neighbour Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted last week and impacted air traffic worldwide, has erupted in intervals of 40-80 years and its last eruption was in 1918. The village of Vik sits between the two main lava and glacial flood routes and has set up evacuation plans to abandon the village promptly if Katla erupts. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand

ICELAND — The Icelandic Meteorological Office is on alert for a possible eruption from the country’s largest volcano, Katla, after two earthquakes rattled the region.

The volcano, which stands at 1,500 meters (nearly 5,000 feet) tall, hasn’t had a major eruption since 1918. Scientists say Katla usually erupts once every 50 years.

Two magnitude 4.5 earthquakes shook the area early Monday morning.

The meteorological office confirmed an increase in seismic activity in recent weeks and said it was monitoring the situation. An eruption is not imminent, scientists said, but they can’t rule it out.

“Such summertime increases in seismicity are common at Katla and the ongoing activity within the caldera is similar to summertime unrest observed in 2012 and 2014,” the office said.

An Icelandic flag flies over Vik, a village sitting at the base of the Myrdalsjokull glacier, which is part of the ice cap sealing the Katla volcano, in Vik, on April 22, 2010. Katla, a volcano 10 times more powerful than neighbour Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted last week and impacted air traffic worldwide, has erupted in intervals of 40-80 years and its last eruption was in 1918. The village of Vik sits between the two main lava and glacial flood routes and has set up evacuation plans to abandon the village promptly if Katla erupts. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand

An Icelandic flag flies over Vik, a village sitting at the base of the Myrdalsjokull glacier, which is part of the ice cap sealing the Katla volcano, in Vik, on April 22, 2010. Katla, a volcano 10 times more powerful than neighbour Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted last week and impacted air traffic worldwide, has erupted in intervals of 40-80 years and its last eruption was in 1918. The village of Vik sits between the two main lava and glacial flood routes and has set up evacuation plans to abandon the village promptly if Katla erupts. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand

“Measurements around Katla are not detecting signs of increased ground deformation or seismic tremor, both of which could be indicators of magma movement.”

In 2010, Katla’s neighboring volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, caused chaos across Europe and shut down most of the continent’s airspace. Thousands of flights were grounded because of the volcanic ash following its eruption.

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