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Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — April 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 4 (April 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Continued block lava extrusion and Strombolian explosions; frequent tremor

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199204-345033


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Block lava extrusion from the summit area began soon after the start of the eruption in 1968. Since then, an extensive lava field has developed on the W side of the volcano. The northernmost lobe of the W-flank lava flow stopped growing in April. Its southernmost lobe, however, continued a slow advance to 775 m elevation, reaching the forest, and burning some 20,000 m2 of fields. Strombolian explosions continued, at intervals of several minutes to hours. During 12-22 April fieldwork by OVSICORI and SI scientists and volunteers, 539 seismic events were recorded. The majority of the signals were associated with gas and ash emissions with locomotive and jet-engine sounds (figure 47). Continuous tremor of low, medium, and high frequency, associated with lava extrusion, was recorded almost 24 hours/day during this period. Seismicity decreased moderately from previous months (recorded at the ICE station "Fortuna", 4 km E of the summit), with a maximum of 16 earthquakes/day (18 April), and an average of 6/day. High levels of continuous tremor were recorded on 9-15, 21, 23, 25, and 27-28 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Seismicity at Arenal, 12-21 April 1992. The 21 April data only include 17 hours of measurements. Courtesy of OVSICORI.

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: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI; G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; W. Melson, SI.