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Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — October 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 10 (October 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Block lava continues to advance; Strombolian explosions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199110-345033


Costa Rica

10.463°N, 84.703°W; summit elev. 1670 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava effusion continued through October. Two blocky flows were observed descending the WNW and SSW flanks in September, and continued to spall blocks from the advancing fronts in October. September fieldwork revealed that only blocks from the SSW-flank flow that was active in May and June reached the forest edge, and that the flow itself did not enter the forest. This flow was still hot in September and emitted vapor from its surface. Rapid erosion continued in flank ravines, carrying sediment downstream, where 14 cm of material has been deposited in Laguna Cedeño (2.5 km N) during the last 9 months.

Strombolian and fumarolic activity continued in Crater C, although explosions weakened at the end of September. During observations on 23-25 October, explosions were separated by 25-100 minutes. The daily number of earthquakes recorded by the ICE network was relatively low in September, averaging 10 (maximum 18), increasing to an average of 20 (maximum 55) in October. Significant tremor episodes occurred on 18-20 September, and 6, 12, and 26-29 October.

Geological Summary. 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. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE.