Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — July 1998

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 23, no. 7 (July 1998)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Poas (Costa Rica) Noisy degassing continues

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1998. Report on Poas (Costa Rica). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 23:7. 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 July, the turquoise-green crater lake at Poás had a temperature of 34°C. This temperature is close to those of the recent past, although during 1993-98 the lake's temperature varied significantly, from 25°C to 70°C. Between February and July 1998 the crater lake's surface dropped 1.6 m. As late as 30 July the lake's volume was 1.3 x 106 m3. Gases noisily escaping from the pyroclastic cone (the dominant fumarolic area), formed columns reaching 500 and 600 m in height. Fumaroles on the S flank had measured temperatures of 92°C; those on the N terrace, 93°C; and those on the lake's S and SW shores, up to 94°C.

Changes in pH, Cl, and SO4 have been measured during the past 5 years. During 1993-94 the active crater lake's pH values were near 0; during 1996 they shifted upwards, and since then pH values have remained between 1 and 2. As recently as July 1998, the trends in pH, Cl, and SO4 have remained relatively consistent and followed the moderately constrained paths established during the past several years.

Since last reported on (BGVN 23:03), seismicity decreased several-fold. February established the monthly high for 1998 for both low- and medium-frequency earthquakes (2,718 and 75 events, respectively) and tremor duration (55 hours). During June and July, respectively, low-frequency earthquakes occurred 704 and 861 times; medium-frequency earthquakes took place seven times and one time; and tremor lasted for 2 and 3.5 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. Fernández, V. Barboza, M. Martinez, E. Duarte, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernández, and T. Marino, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).