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Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) — May 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 5 (May 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Irazu (Costa Rica) Tectonic earthquake swarm

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199105-345060


Costa Rica

9.979°N, 83.852°W; summit elev. 3436 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A large swarm of tectonic earthquakes was recorded just S of the crater from 2 January through the end of February. On 25 May, a rapid increase in the number of tectonic earthquakes marked the start of a second swarm in the same zone. A shock located about 1 km E of the crater was felt on 28 May (M 3.5), and two others centered near the crater were felt on 5 June at 0534 (M 3.5) and 0540 (M 3.2). Scientists believe that the seismicity may represent reactivation of the fault zone involved in the M [7.6] earthquake that occurred about 90 km ESE on 22 April. No changes in surface activity at the volcano were reported.

Geological Summary. The massive Irazú volcano in Costa Rica, immediately E of the capital city of San José, covers an area of 500 km2 and is vegetated to within a few hundred meters of its broad summit crater complex. At least 10 satellitic cones are located on its S flank. No lava effusion is known since the eruption of the Cervantes lava flows from S-flank vents about 14,000 years ago, and all known Holocene eruptions have been explosive. The focus of eruptions at the summit crater complex has migrated to the W towards the main crater, which contains a small lake. The first well-documented eruption occurred in 1723, and frequent explosive eruptions have occurred since. Ashfall from the last major eruption during 1963-65 caused significant disruption to San José and surrounding areas. Phreatic activity reported in 1994 may have been a landslide event from the fumarolic area on the NW summit (Fallas et al., 2018).

Information Contacts: R. Barquero, ICE; Mario Fernández, Red Sismológica Nacional (RSN), Univ de Costa Rica; ACAN news service, Panamá City, Panamá.