Katla volcano Iceland : evacuation has been canceled + video of the destroyed bridge

Iceland Katla volcano showed some signs of activity the last 24 hours.
Iceland civil protection has published a bulletin this morning (local time) that the bridge over the river Múlakvísl has been swept away by a glacial flood (Gel) coming from the volcano slopes (during the flood the water contains big cubes of glacier ice).  The bridge had a length of 128 meters and was built in 1990.
There is still some debate among scientists whether the glacial flood has his origin in a small volcanic eruption.
Seismicity has decreased since the Gel and an eruption seems to be subsiding.

Update 22:14 UTC : Contrary to what was reported earlier today, the Icelandic authorities have decided to start the repair works of the bridge tonight. The duration of the works are estimated to be 2 to 3 weeks.

Update 21:47 UTC : There was no more seismic activity below the glacier since 17:48 UTC

Update 19:53 UTC : An impressive hole in the glacier (click here for the RUV image) above the Katla caldera (crater) was photographed this morning during a coast guard survey.  The hole is 15 meter (50 ft) deep and as can be seen on the picture below the link, the sides are almost vertical. Some specialist explain the steep vertical walls steam or lava intrusion in glacier cracks.

Update 17:33 UTC : Work to rebuild the Múlakvísl bridge will start on Monday morning if conditions are allowing it.

Update 17:27 UTC : The flow at the Múlakvísl river has decreased a lot and is more or less back to normal.

Update 17:21 UTC : If you want to follow the tremors which are going on below the Myrdalsjökull ice field, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.  We will list the seismic activity with regular intervals.

Update 16:02 UTC : RUV, the Icelandic TV station has aired a video shot near the destroyed bridge over the Múlakvísl river. High priority will be given to rebuild the bridge. The bridge was part of the circular road around the island.
Click on the picture at right or on this link to be directed to the RUV Video (the language is Icelandic 🙂

Update 15:09 UTC : The Katla eruption alert has been canceled. Only the glacier area is kept under high alert.  All evacuation decisions have been canceled.

Update 14:38 UTC : The Icelandic Civil protection is currently meeting with scientists to decide on keeping or canceling the current alert. Some people have decided not to evacuate as requested by the Icelandic civil protection.

Update 14:22 UTC : The 128 meter long bridge has literally been pushed from its pillars by the glacial flood. The flow must have been very impressive to create this kind of damage.

Update 14:15 UTC : The flow of the river which carried the glacial flood is still very strong.  No alerting seismic activity.

French tourists were blocked at the the other side of the washed away bridge of Múlakvísl. An helicopter from the Coast Guard has transferred them into safety.

Some routes in the area remain open for SUV's and larger cars.

The Álftaver area is being evacuated and preparation for evacuating the camping area in Þakgil is underway.

People in the area have been alerted that they should be cautious for sulphur smell near the river, as it might contain  poisonous gas.

In 1955 Katla volcano had a similar suspected eruption which turned out to be only glacier flood (like today). There is a chance that this also will be the case today.

To follow eventual activity of Katla, you can check to Katla webcam (cloudy while writing this article)

Katla information :

Katla volcano Iceland - image courtesy volcano.si.edu and Smithsonian Institution

Volcano Type:     Subglacial volcano
Last Known Eruption: 1918
Summit Elevation: 1512 m (4,961 feet)
Katla volcano, located near the southern end of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone, is hidden beneath the Myrdalsjökull icecap. The subglacial basaltic-to-rhyolitic volcano is one of Iceland's most active and is a frequent producer of damaging jökulhlaups, or glacier-outburst floods.  A large 10 x 14 km subglacial caldera with a long axis in a NW-SE direction is up to 750 m deep. Its high point reaches 1380 m, and three major outlet glaciers have breached its rim. Although most historical eruptions have taken place from fissures inside the caldera, the Eldgjá fissure system, which extends about 60 km to the NE from the current ice margin towards Grímsvötn volcano, has been the source of major Holocene eruptions. An eruption from the Eldgjá fissure system about 934 AD produced a voluminous lava flow of about 18 cu km, one of the world's largest known Holocene lava flows. Katla has been the source of frequent subglacial basaltic explosive eruptions that have been among the largest tephra-producers in Iceland during historical time and has also produced numerous dacitic explosive eruptions during the Holocene.
Information text and picture :  Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program

Seismic data from the last 12 hours :
Date                 Time           Depth     Magnitude    Distance to location

As scientists are describing the seismicity during the last several hours as normal, we will stop the below list at 06:59. We will restart mentioning the tremors if the alert level would increase.

10.07.2011    06:59   3,0 km    0,3    99,0    2,9 km NV af Hábungu
10.07.2011    06:06   4,2 km    -0,3    99,0    2,5 km VSV af Goðabungu
10.07.2011    04:12   0,1 km    1,4    99,0    4,0 km VNV af Goðabungu
10.07.2011    04:12   32,7 km    0,6    45,8    6,5 km S af Básum
10.07.2011    03:12   0,7 km    -0,1    99,0    2,0 km NV af Hábungu
10.07.2011    02:28   4,4 km    0,2    99,0    7,8 km A af Goðabungu
09.07.2011    22:24   0,5 km    -0,1    99,0    2,8 km NV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    22:14   1,9 km    0,1    99,0    2,5 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    22:12   14,3 km    0,3    99,0    3,4 km ASA af Goðabungu
09.07.2011    21:58   7,5 km    0,4    99,0    15,2 km SA af Árnesi
09.07.2011    21:56   1,7 km    0,8    99,0    9,1 km N af Álftavatni
09.07.2011    21:41   3,1 km    0,5    99,0    3,3 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    17:48   0,1 km    0,2    99,0    3,6 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    17:42   0,1 km    0,2    99,0    3,3 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    17:13   2,1 km    1,3    99,0    3,3 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    16:29   14,4 km    1,2    74,62    5,5 km VNV af Goðabungu
09.07.2011    15:53   1,7 km    -0,1    99,0    4,2 km NV af Hábungu
09.07.2011    15:31   0,1 km    0,6    99,0    3,7 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011 08:46:41   1,0 km    2,0    99,0    6,6 km NNA af Hábungu (location = green arrow)
09.07.2011 07:30:01  15.5 km    1,2    99,0    3,2 km A af Hábungu
09.07.2011 05:31:52   3,4 km    1,4    99,0    3,3 km NV af Hábungu
09.07.2011 04:05:20   0,5 km    0,9    73,46    3,6 km N af Hábungu
09.07.2011 03:33:40   0,9 km    1,4    99,0    3,1 km NV af Hábungu
09.07.2011 03:31:11   0,1 km    2,3    99,0    3,1 km NV af Hábungu
09.07.2011 03:29:29   1,2 km    1,3    99,0    3,1 km N af Hábungu
09.07.2011 02:38:17   6,6 km    0,0    32,59    4,4 km N af Hábungu
09.07.2011 01:54:49   0,1 km    0,9    99,0    3,5 km NNV af Hábungu
09.07.2011 00:46:08   2,0 km    0,7    99,0    3,6 km NNV af Hábungu