Logo link to homepage

Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) — October 1993


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 10 (October 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Arenal (Costa Rica) Lava flows advance

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Arenal (Costa Rica) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199310-345033


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

October marked the second consecutive month of relative quiet at Arenal. The moderately explosive behavior seen on 28 August at the active vent, Crater C, decreased through both September and October. Fumarolic activity persisted at Crater D.

Lava flowing from crater C down drainages on the W slope of Arenal continued to advance. Scientists at OVSICORI reported that lava advanced in the Tabacón river valley (NW of the summit), and by the end of August reached 700 m elevation. They also reported that seismicity ranged from roughly 500 to 800 events/month for May through October 1993, whereas for January through May 1993, seismicity ranged from 550 to 1,300 events/month.

In the last ten days of October the daily number of earthquakes suddenly dropped. For the first 20 days of October 14-48 events/day were registered. In comparison, for the majority of the last 11 days of October <=10 events/day were registered. Thus far in 1993 continuous tremor averaged 264 hours/month; a low in continuous tremor occurred in September (109 hours), and it was above average in October (299 hours). Arenal's weakly explosive behavior was confirmed by scientists at ICE. Their seismometer, located 1.5 km from crater C (1.2 km closer to the crater than the OVSICORI seismometer), detected similar, though not identical, patterns of low seismicity and tremor.

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, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.