Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — 12 April-18 April 2017

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 12 April-18 April 2017
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2017. Report on Poas (Costa Rica). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 12 April-18 April 2017. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Weekly Report |  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)

OVSICORI-UNA reported that a strong 40-minute phreatic eruption from an area in between the lava dome and the hot lake at Poás was recorded on 12 April starting at 1830. An eruption column consisting of water, altered rocks, sediments, and gases was produced; the height of the column could not be determined due to poor visibility. Ash fell around the crater and to the NW in Bajos del Toro. A water-level increase of 2 m in the Desague River, with headwaters at the S part of the crater, was noted. According to news articles the National Emergency Committee (CNE) evacuated residents living near the Desague River. The Poás Volcano National Park closed the next day.

At 1546 on 13 April an eight-minute-long eruption produced a plume that rose 500 m above the crater rim. The event rendered a webcam on the N rim inoperable. Events at 0758 (strong) and 1055 on 14 April generated plumes of an unknown height. A 10-minute-long event which began at 0810 on 15 April again produced a plume of unknown height. Frequent (2-3 events per hour) small short-lived phreatic eruptions were recorded by seismographs during 15-16 April. A plume that rose 500 m followed an eruption at 0946 on 16 April. Later that day, at 1350, an event generated a plume that rose 1 km. A news article reported that boulders as large as 2 m in diameter fell in an area 30 m away from a tourist trail, breaking a water pipe. Rocks also damaged fences and concrete floors in viewing areas. Small, frequent, and short-lived phreatic eruptions continued to be recorded through 18 April. A video posted by a news outlet showed an explosion ejecting incandescent material.

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.

Sources: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Tico Times, Tico Times, The Costa Rica Star, The Costa Rica Star