On top of a wall of blue ice is the outflow of a massive glacier that sits on top of Katla, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. An intricate system of sensors monitors the glacier’s every move, because when Katla erupts, it won’t be fire but flood waters that will engulf the valley below it.
Underneath all the ice, Katla is ready to blow, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.
Katla last erupted in 1918 when it sent a torrent of water, mud and ice into the valley below. In the past year, a series of stronger-than-usual earthquakes put everyone on high alert.
Over the past thousand years, Katla has erupted at least once if not twice a century – extending Iceland’s coastline every time. A mountain is called Peters’ Island because it used to be completely surrounded by water.
Scientists predict that when Katla erupts, the massive ice sheet sitting on top of it will melt, creating a flash flood that could wipe out everything in its path. That includes the town of Vik – the picturesque village of around 300 that now hosts up to 3,000 tourists a day.
To understand the concern, go back to 2010 when the volcano next door blew up. Eyjafjallajökull drove plumes of hot ash into the sky, crippling global aviation for a couple of days.
Earthquake sensors have been installed throughout the region to make sure the people of Iceland – and those who are visiting – are ready to evacuate when Katla comes to life. Read more at CBS.