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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — June 1996


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 21, no. 6 (June 1996)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Poas (Costa Rica) Moderate seismicity during June

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199606-345040


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2697 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During June the lake at Poás had a greenish-turquoise color, a temperature of 44°C, and bubbled constantly from points on its S, SW, and W sides. A gas plume rose to between 400 and 500 m. Small rockfalls continued along the crater's N and W walls and gas escape rates in the latter area appeared low. The main source of fumarolic discharge came from the pyroclastic cone; at an accessible point on this region the temperature measured 94°C. Fumaroles on the SE, S, and SW walls maintained temperatures of 90-95°C.

OVSCICORI-UNA reported that June seismicity totalled 2,043 events, chiefly of low frequency. During June, totals for medium- and high-frequency events were 115 and 11, respectively. The low-frequency events occurred 20-157 times/day, with the highest number of events at mid-month. The high- and medium-frequency events also both peaked mid-month (with daily highs of about 3 and 13 events, respectively). The peak in high-frequency daily events took place on the 15th and coincided with the appearance of new fumaroles in the active crater.

Mauricio Mora (UCR) described six months of seismicity at Poás (table 7). A seismic peak in January was characterized by harmonic tremor and low-frequency events (both below 2 Hz). Tremor decreased during the first half of the year but a small peak in seismicity appeared in June. Mora also discussed January-June activity in the three primary areas of fumaroles, including: 1) the S crater wall, which appeared to be growing SW (91°C); 2) the dome and crater's S border, which issued plumes to 30 m height (~90°C); and 3) the crater's W border, which in March was covered by a landslide of hydrothermally altered wall rock.

Table 7. Number of low-frequency and A-type seismic events at Poás (recorded at station VPS2, 1 km SW of the active crater), January-June 1996. Courtesy of Mauricio Mora.

Month Low-frequency events A-type events
Jan 1996 4,475 --
Feb 1996 1,651 2
Mar 1996 1,800 --
Apr 1996 1,214 --
May 1996 1,721 4
Jun 1996 2,994 6

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Guillermo E. Alvarado, and Francisco (Chico) Arias, Oficina de Sismología y Vulcanología, Departamento de Geología, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica; Mauricio Mora F., Sección de Sismologia, Volcanologia y Exploración Geofisica, Escuala Centroamericana de Geología, Universidad de Costa Rica, Apdo. 35-2060, San José, Costa Rica