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Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — January 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 1 (January 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Continued Strombolian eruptions and lava output

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199501-345033


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strombolian eruptions and lava output from Crater C continued in January with columns reaching as high as 1 km above the crater. In the village of La Palma, located 4 km N of the volcano, the eruptions vibrated windows. OVSICORI-UNA reported that lava continued to extrude in October 1994. The lava flow branched into three lobes; in January 1995 the flow's N lobe reached down to ~900 m elevation, and the W and SW lobes, to ~1,050 m elevation.

OVSICORI-UNA registered 577 seismic events of low frequency (<3.0 Hz) during January. The majority of these events were correlated with near-synchronous tephra-bearing eruptions. During January, tremor took place for 115 hours, a duration similar to March 1994. Much of the tremor arrived between 2 and 9 January, an interval when the number of the low-frequency earthquakes was low (typically <5/day). Just over 40 low-frequency earthquakes took place on 14 January, the highest number recorded for any day of the month. Except for the lull early in the month, the number of earthquakes each day was typically between ~10 and 25.

ICE reported relatively weak effusion of lava in mid- and late-January, but in the same interval, explosive activity remained the same as in recent months. They suggested that following this interval there were stronger Strombolian eruptions between longer repose intervals.

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, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.