Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — August 1995

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 8 (August 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Poas (Costa Rica) Elevated seismicity and continued fumarolic activity within the N crater

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Poas (Costa Rica). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:8. 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)

During August, the level of the sky blue lake within the N crater climbed 1.5 m with respect to its position in June. The lake's temperature was 37.5°C. Fumaroles on the W lake terrace generated gas columns <50 m high; those on the NW lakeshore continued their constant bubbling. The gases escaping from the pyroclastic cone had an 89°C temperature. Fumaroles on the S and SW crater walls had 94°C and 96°C temperatures and produced columns reaching over 50 m high. When the wind blew towards the S, Rangers at the park entry station smelled sulfur.

Poás was very active in terms of both moderate- to low-frequency earthquakes and tremor. There were 5,651 seismic events in August, predominantly low-frequency (table 6). Both medium- and high-frequency events prevailed when seismicity peaked on 25 August with 312 events.

August can be compared to the 17 other months where data were available during 1994-95 (table 6). The number of low-frequency events was fourth largest in August 1995. The largest value for the 1994-1995 interval was 7,119 events (March 1994). Tremor in August 1995 took place for 9 hours; this compares with high values seen in April 1995 (11 hours) and June 1994 (307 hours).

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. Fernandez, E. Duarte, R. Saenz, W. Jimenez, and V. Barboza, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).