Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — December 1981
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 12 (December 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.
Arenal (Costa Rica) Block lava emission continues from summit crater
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198112-345033.
10.463°N, 84.703°W; summit elev. 1670 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Block lava emission continued from the single crater near the summit at a rate of ~1 m/hour. By 3 December this flow had reached a cliff SW of the crater, and incandescent material cascaded in spectacular avalanches from the flow front. A continuous white gas column was only briefly observed due to poor weather conditions at the summit.
Geologic Background. Conical Volcán Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1670-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. Arenal lies along a volcanic chain that has migrated to the NW from the late-Pleistocene Los Perdidos lava domes through the Pleistocene-to-Holocene Chato volcano, which contains a 500-m-wide, lake-filled summit crater. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7000 years ago, and it was active concurrently with Cerro Chato until the activity of Chato ended about 3500 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. An eruptive period that began with a major explosive eruption in 1968 ended in December 2010; continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows characterized the eruption from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.
Information Contacts: R. Stoiber, S. Williams, H.R. Naslund, J.B. Gemmell, and D. Sussman, Dartmouth College; E. Malavassi R. and J. Barquero H., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.