Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — March 1996

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 21, no. 3 (March 1996)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Poas (Costa Rica) Seismicity decreased roughly 10-fold since October 1995

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on Poas (Costa Rica). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:3. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin |  Download PDF [future] |  Export Citation [future]


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During a February visit, the temperature of the turquoise-green crater lake was 26°C and its surface had risen 2 m with respect to its January level. Except that this lake-level rise had covered some active fumaroles, their behavior was similar to previous months. Fumaroles on the SE, S, and SW sides of the crater had temperatures of 93-95°C. One fumarole along the lake's W shore had migrated upward along a crack.

When visited during March, the lake appeared sky blue in color, its surface had dropped by 0.5 m compared to the previous month, and the water temperature was 30°C. Fumaroles, their gas emission rates, and temperatures were similar to previous months. A distance survey across the crater found that a 21 ppm/year expansion had occurred since mid-1995. At a spot adjacent to the lake, the survey found an 18 mm contraction since October 1995.

The pyroclastic cone, the major source of gas emission, discharged plumes 200-400 m high. Where accessible the temperatures of the emitted gases were around 94°C; gas emissions sounded like releases from a pressure valve, particularly those venting along the inaccessible N wall.

February and March seismicity consisted of a total 1,100 and 983 events, respectively, the majority being low frequency. This was a roughly 10-fold decrease since a peak in October 1995. Tremor duration was <10 hours, down from over 250 hours in November and December 1995.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA); Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismología y Vulcanología, Departamento de Geología, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).