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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — July 1990


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 7 (July 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Poas (Costa Rica) Continued strong fumarolic activity but no phreatic explosions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199007-345040


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2697 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strong fumarolic activity continued essentially unchanged during July, but no phreatic explosions were reported. The crater lake, rich in bubbling mud and covered with a fine sulfur scum to the S, remained at low levels. It was fed by hot (44-93°C), bubbling springs and had a measured temperature of 88.7°C. Cold springs located at the base of the crater walls had temperatures of 20-25°C.

The three groups of fumaroles within the crater noted in recent months remained active. The fumaroles NE of the lake emitted gas rich in sulfur and produced little noise. To the NW and SE there were fumaroles, small mud/sulfur domes, and sulfur pools. The more energetic sulfur pools in the SE group ejected concentric pellets (up to 5 cm in diameter) that built sulfur cones, and produced small flows of sulfur-rich mud. The fumaroles N of the 1953-55 dome had temperatures of 81.8-88.6°C and fumaroles on the dome had temperatures of up to 91.5°C.

On 19 July there was a group of 14 small-moderate earthquakes (seven between M 2.3 and 3.6) centered 4-8 km SW of Poás. The majority occurred during a 1-hour period between 1750 and 1850. The earthquakes were believed to be related to a local fault.

Although guards did not evacuate the park on 4 and 8 May (as [originally] stated in 15:05), in recent months they have occasionally recommended that tourists leave when wind changes caused the highly acidic plume to blow in the direction of the overlook and tourist center.

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: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; H. Flores, UCR; J. Barquero, OVSICORI; José Manuel Cartín, Director, Parque Nacional Volcán Poás, Costa Rica.