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Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) — July 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 7 (July 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Irazu (Costa Rica) Seismicity remains high; crater lake level rises

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199107-345060


Costa Rica

9.979°N, 83.852°W; summit elev. 3432 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

In July, the turquoise-green crater lake continued to rise, eventually covering 2/3 of the crater floor, including several fumaroles that formed during early-mid June. Sulfur deposits had been observed at some of these fumaroles. On 17 July, the lake was 150 x 100 m, with a maximum depth of 2 m. Water temperatures increased with proximity to the bubbling springs (90°C), mud pots, and roaring fumaroles, ranging from 35°C to 55°C (compared to 30-48°C in late June). The lake had pH of 3.7.

Seismicity remained at high levels in July, but was decreased in comparison to late May-June (16:5-6). July's highest seismicity occurred on the 4th, when 75 earthquakes were recorded (seismic station IRZ2, 5 km WSW, Univ Nacional network; figure 3), 34 of which occurred in a NW-SE trend. The 4 July earthquakes (M 1.5-2.7) were centered 0.6-10 km from the crater at <10 km depth. Tremor episodes and B-type earthquakes continued to be recorded in July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Daily number of earthquakes at Irazú, July 1991. Courtesy of Universidad Nacional.

Geological Summary. Irazú, one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes, rises immediately E of the capital city of San José. The massive volcano covers an area of 500 km2 and is vegetated to within a few hundred meters of its broad flat-topped summit crater complex. At least 10 satellitic cones are located on its S flank. No lava flows have been identified since the eruption of the massive Cervantes lava flows from S-flank vents about 14,000 years ago, and all known Holocene eruptions have been explosive. The focus of eruptions at the summit crater complex has migrated to the W towards the historically active crater, which contains a small lake of variable size and color. Although eruptions may have occurred around the time of the Spanish conquest, the first well-documented historical eruption occurred in 1723, and frequent explosive eruptions have occurred since. Ashfall from the last major eruption during 1963-65 caused significant disruption to San José and surrounding areas.

Information Contacts: R. Barquero, Guillermo Alvarado, and Alain Creussot, ICE; Mario Fernández and Hector Flores, Sección de Sismología y Vulcanología, Univ de Costa Rica; J. Barquero, E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Brenes, OVSICORI.