Logo link to homepage

Report on Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — June 1992

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 6 (June 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Continued fumarolic activity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199206-345020.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic activity continued through June in the active crater, where it had fed a plume more than 100 m high during May fieldwork. Chemical analyses of water collected 13 May showed pH values of less than 3 in two of the three N-flank rivers sampled, and some enhancement in sulfate and chloride concentrations (table 2). A seismographic station 5 km SW of the crater (RIN3) registered seven low-frequency earthquakes in June.

Table 2. Chemistry of water collected 13 May 1992 from three rivers on the N flank of Rincón de la Vieja. Data courtesy of the Univ. de Costa Rica.

River pH Cl- (ppm) SO4-2 (ppm)
Pénjamo 2.9 1.5 392
Blanco 5.8 2.1 122
Azul 2.4 10.0 384

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Univ. de Costa Rica.