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Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — November 1985


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 11 (November 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Lava flows and tephra ejection continues

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198511-345033


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava production continued through early November from the active vent (Crater C), feeding lava flows that advanced NW, W, and S. A dome has formed on the W rim of Crater C. Gas emission was continuous. The ejections of pyroclastic materials that began in June 1984 were also continuing in early November. Geologists noted that when the advance of the lava flows was slow, the explosions were strong and very frequent, whereas when much lava was flowing from the crater there were almost no pyroclastic ejections. There were strong explosions during the first week in October. A 50 x 60 cm bomb fell 1 km from the crater, forming an impact crater that measured 80 x 50 cm and 20 cm deep. A block with dimensions of 90 x 30 x 20 cm formed a 90 x 100 cm crater that was 30 cm deep; this block came to rest 20 m from its initial impact crater. Small quantities of ash were emitted. Prevailing winds carried the ash about 3 km W and SW.

Further Reference. Alvarado, I.G.E. and Barquero, R., 1987, Las señales sísmicas del volcán Arenal (Costa Rica) y su relación con las fases eruptivas (1968-1986): Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, Departamento de Geología, San José, 33 p.

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: J. Barquero H. and E. Fernández S., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.