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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — January 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 1 (January 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Poas (Costa Rica) Decreased fumarolic activity as lake water covers vents; sesimicity increases

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199101-345040


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2697 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Crater lake level rose through mid-December (from rainfall), covering many fumaroles and hiding their degassing. By 4 January, however, the lake had dropped 70 cm from its high point on 19 December. Degassing, with bubbling mud and sulfur, was again visible at the SE fumarole zone within the lake. The approximate diameter of the lake was 150 m, and the color changed from yellowish green to sky blue, with yellow areas of floating sulfur scum. Temperatures of 67.6°C (2 December), 64°C (19 December), and 64.7°C (4 January) were measured from the E and SE lake shores (separate measurements by Univ Nacional scientists yielded an average lake temperature of 68°C during December and January). Springs had temperatures of 16°C and 20-22°C at the E and SE base of the inner crater walls, respectively. The dome fumaroles had a temperature of 91°C.

The atmospheric plume produced by fumarolic activity was reduced from those of previous months, reflecting decreases in fumarolic activity on the dome and in the crater lake. The effects of acid rain had diminished and some regrowth of vegetation had occurred. A pH of 5.5 was measured on a water sample collected adjacent to the crater.

During December, 2,000 low-frequency earthquakes were recorded. Seismicity increased during January, with 5,294 events recorded by the 29th.

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; Mario Fernández and Wilfredo Rojas, UCR; J. Barquero and E. Fernández, OVSICORI.