Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — January 1993

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 1 (January 1993)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Poas (Costa Rica) Gradual deflation; active fumaroles; fumarole gas analyses reported

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Poas (Costa Rica). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:1. Smithsonian Institution.

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Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Gas plumes rose to 500 m above the crater lake in January. Fumaroles remained active in the N and NW part of the crater. Noise from some fumaroles was audible from the overlook. Phreatic eruptions ejected material to 1-2 m above two sulfur terraces that had formed in the SE part of the lake. The lake's temperature was 65°C, its pH was 1.3, and its surface was 50 cm lower in January than in December.

The nearest dry-tilt station (1 km from the crater) has shown a general tendency toward slow deflation (6.4 µrad/year) since 1982. Measurements began on the distance-measuring network that covers the active crater in 1989. Minor expansion was detected in 1989 and in December 1990, but no significant changes have been evident since then.

On 19 November 1992, Marino Martini, Franco Prati, and Erick Fernández collected gas samples from a fumarole (table 4). An apparent equilibrium temperature of 368°C was calculated, similar to the 390°C obtained in 1989, suggesting a substantially constant rate of magmatic degassing with some fluctuations caused by rainwater.

Table 4. Analysis of gases collected at Poás and Irazú, November 1992. Percentages shown are for dry gas. Poás: 19 November 1992; sample included 88.46 volume % water; temperature 118°C. Irazú: 21 November 1992; sample included 89.54 volume % water; temperature 93°C. Courtesy of M. Martini.

[Skip text table]
    Gas    Irazú      Poás

    CO2    98.91      42.40
    SO2     --        34.16
    H2S     0.80      11.62
    HCl     0.37      11.27
    HF      0.0064     0.26
    H2      0.87       0.26
    CO      0.0001     0.0003
    N2      1.03       0.027
    B       0.0041     0.0056

Geologic Background. The broad, well-vegetated edifice of Poás, one of the most active volcanoes of Costa Rica, contains three craters along a N-S line. The frequently visited multi-hued summit crater lakes of the basaltic-to-dacitic volcano, which is one of Costa Rica's most prominent natural landmarks, are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the 2708-m-high complex stratovolcano extends to the lower northern flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear and last erupted about 7500 years ago. The more prominent geothermally heated northern lake, Laguna Caliente, is one of the world's most acidic natural lakes, with a pH of near zero. It has been the site of frequent phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions since the first historical eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obadía, T. Marino, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; M. Martini, Univ di Firenze, Italy.