Globally Significant CO2 Emissions From Katla, a Subglacial Volcano in Iceland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Evgenia Ilyinskaya
  • Stephen Mobbs
  • Ralph Burton
  • Federica Pardini
  • Melissa Anne Pfeffer
  • Ruth Purvis
  • James Lee
  • Stéphane Bauguitte
  • Barbara Brooks
  • Ioana Colfescu
  • Gudrun Nina Petersen
  • Axel Wellpott
  • Baldur Bergsson


Volcanoes are a key natural source of CO2, but global estimates of volcanic CO2 flux are predominantly based on measurements from a fraction of world's actively degassing volcanoes. We combine high‐precision airborne measurements from 2016 and 2017 with atmospheric dispersion modeling to quantify CO2 emissions from Katla, a major subglacial volcanic caldera in Iceland that last erupted 100 years ago but has been undergoing significant unrest in recent decades. Katla's sustained CO2 flux, 12–24 kt/d, is up to an order of magnitude greater than previous estimates of total CO2 release from Iceland's natural sources. Katla is one of the largest volcanic sources of CO2 on the planet, contributing up to 4% of global emissions from nonerupting volcanoes. Further measurements on subglacial volcanoes worldwide are urgently required to establish if Katla is exceptional, or if there is a significant previously unrecognized contribution to global CO2 emissions from natural sources.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10,332-10,341
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
Early online date17 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2018

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