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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — September 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 9 (September 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Poas (Costa Rica) Small explosions and gas emission from crater lake; continued seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199109-345040


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2697 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The level of crater lake water, bright yellow and 71°C, decreased in September, despite continuation of the rainy season. Phreatic explosions in the central part of the lake ejected water to a height of 2 m. Steam and gas rose nearly continuously, creating small plumes that were carried W and SW by wind. A strong sulfur smell and respiratory difficulties were reported by park rangers on 22-23 September. The gas plume rose vertically during calm conditions the morning of 23 September, and was visible >10 km away from the Central Valley.

A daily average of 262 low-frequency (<2.5 Hz) earthquakes was recorded in September, with the highest levels of activity on the 21st-22nd. Low- and medium-frequency tremor episodes were recorded, with maximum durations of 2 hours.

Geological Summary. The broad 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 are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the complex stratovolcano extends to the lower N flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, last erupted about 7,500 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 an eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero, E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Brenes, OVSICORI.