‘Shameful job’: Russian-Icelandic scientist lambastes Sunday Times for volcano alarmism

A Russian-Icelandic volcanologist has exploded on Twitter, berating the news media for exaggerating her research into Iceland’s Katla volcano by claiming that it was due to erupt soon, dwarfing previous major eruptions.

“Incredibly disappointing to see that The Sunday Times have gone down the route of trashy tabloids,” the Russian-born, Iceland-raised and Cambridge-educated volcanologist Evgenia Ilyinskaya wrote in a lengthy Twitter tirade, excoriating the news media’s coverage, following the publication of an interview she gave about her recently published research.

“This article misinforms their readers and undermines me as a scientist and a specialist in my field,” Ilyinskaya added.

“I said explicitly that we are in no position to say whether or not Katla volcano is ready to erupt; and that air traffic disruption in case of an eruption is unlikely to be as serious as in 2010,” she wrote.

The Times, along with other media outlets, reported that elevated levels of airborne CO2 in the area surrounding the volcano indicated that the magma chambers were filling up, marking a precursor to an event which threatened to “dwarf”the 2010 eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

That eruption forced the cancellation of roughly 100,000 flights and disrupted international air traffic for months. However, speculation about the current threat posed by Katla is premature at best and massively overblown at worst according to several scientists.

“There is no way of telling when it will erupt, just that it will,” Sarah Barsotti, co-ordinator for volcanic hazards at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said as cited by The Express.

Meanwhile, Magnus Tumi Guomundsson, a professor in geophysics at the University of Iceland, argues that given Katla’s icy mountain top peak, historical data of CO2 buildup and emission by the volcano is sorely lacking and that any claims of elevated build up are ill-informed.

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