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Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — November 1987


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 11 (November 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Frequent explosions continue to eject ash and blocks

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198711-345033


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Eruptive activity continued in November. The volcano erupted 17 times during 14 daylight hours of observation 15-16 November. Intervals between eruptions varied from 15 to 150 minutes. Most were accompanied by loud explosions and rumbling. Clouds, often containing ash, rose 1,300-1,700 m above the summit. Summit eruptions caused light ashfall (grain size 0.25-0.50 mm) 4 km W, and threw incandescent blocks 900 m down the flanks. Very frequent rockfalls occurred on the NW side of the dome. Measurements indicated an SO2 flux of <100 t/d.

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, OVSICORI; B. Gemmel, H. Mango, K. Roggensack, R. Stoiber and other geologists, Dartmouth College.