Logo link to homepage

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

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 8 (August 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Strong degassing; explosion seismicity

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, 17:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199208-345020.

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)


Strong degassing occurred in the active crater. Some seismic signals with durations of up to 3 minutes were recorded during August, interpreted by ICE geologists as probably associated with small or moderate eruptions from the hot crater lake. However, no deposits of mud were found on the crater rim during fieldwork on 28 August, so any deposition must have been confined to the interior of the crater. Parts of the rim rise >150 m above the lake. A UNA seismic station (RIN3) 5 km SW of the main crater recorded 11 low-frequency events in August, with brief (1-6 minute) periods of tremor at frequencies of <2.5 Hz.

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: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.