Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — January 1996

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

Poas (Costa Rica) Seismically active with new fumaroles and some cross-crater deformation

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on Poas (Costa Rica). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:1. 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)

When visited during January, the surface of the turquoise-green crater lake had risen 45 cm with respect to its December level. At the dome's N margin a small bubbling spring discharged relatively clear water. Lake water measured at the shoreline near the spring had a temperature of 29°C and on the N shore, a temperature of 27°C. The ongoing collapse of the N wall continued, as did reports of sulfur odors at the park entrance station, ~1 km away. Within the crater a small landslide had partially covered the W terrace and local fumaroles there, but fumaroles had migrated to the NW terrace where escaping gases made loud noises. SW-terrace fumaroles also remained active.

The SE-SW portion of the crater wall contained new fumaroles. These chiefly had temperatures of 73-91°C, with the maximum fumarole temperature, 94°C, found along the S wall. During the January visit, the intracrater cone displayed an increased number of gas emission points. Although the majority were inaccessible, gas columns emanating from the crater margins gave temperatures of 94°C.

During 1995, two distance-survey lines across the active crater underwent an expansion of 19.5 ppm. During the same interval, the distance-survey network outside the crater and the tilt network both lacked significant changes.

During December 1995 and January 1996, the total number of seismic events was relatively high, 5,960 and 4,187, respectively (figure 60). These events were predominantly of low frequency. During December and January, tremor registered for a total of 259 and 6 hours, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. The monthly number of seismic events (top) and hours of tremor (bottom) at Poás for January 1995-January 1996. The December 1995 data were adjusted because the local seismic station (poa2, 2.7 km SW of the active crater) did not operate on the 16th-21st of the month. Frequency designations are as follows: intermediate (medium), 2.0-3.0 Hz; and low, <2.0 Hz. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

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: 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).