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Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) — September 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 9 (September 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Irazu (Costa Rica) Continued fumarolic activity and seismicity; crater lake rises

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199109-345060


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Crater fumarolic activity continued in September, with the most intense emissions in the N and NW sections, where distinct gas vents were visible. Gas temperatures were 90°C and condensates had a pH of 3.5. One fumarole produced a roaring sound audible at the summit rim overlook. The level of the turquoise-green crater lake continued to rise; numerous fumaroles were drowned but continued emitting subaqueously. The average lake temperature was 37°C (compared to 35°C in July), with a temperature of 90°C measured near active fumaroles in the N part of the lake. Weaker fumarolic activity occurred in the SE, E, and NE parts of the lake, and on the crater's E slope. In September, 74 earthquakes (M 1-2) were recorded, with depths <8 km.

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: J. Barquero, E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Brenes, OVSICORI.