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Report on Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — January 1996

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 21, no. 1 (January 1996)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Eruption on 11-13 November followed by decreasing seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199601-345020.

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)


The eruption that began on [6] November had ended by 13 November (BGVN 20:11/12), yet somewhat elevated seismicity (4 events/day) prevailed through late November. Although the seismic system (RIN3, 5 km SW of the active crater) later failed (all or partly inoperative, 3 December-3 January), it received low-frequency events during most of 1-10 December at the rate of 1-3 events/day, and on 6 December it recorded eight events. During January, RIN3 registered near background levels of seismicity: 8 events/month, consisting of two at low frequencies and six at high frequencies.

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: Rodolfo Van der Laat, Vilma Barboza, Erick Fernández, Jorge Barquero, Franklin de Obaldia, Tomás Marino, and Rodrigo Sáenz, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.