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Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) — April 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 4 (April 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Irazu (Costa Rica) Rainfall-induced mass wasting and three seismic events

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199504-345060


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

OVSICORI-UNA reported that, with respect to January, the lake level in April dropped 50 cm. The greenish yellow lake constantly bubbled on its N, NE, W, and SW shores. Small landslides took place along the crater's N, E, and SW walls.

On the NW flank, where there had been a small phreatic eruption vented from a well-established fumarole in December 1994, fumaroles remained active at both the eruption site and on the adjacent crater's N wall. Rainfall caused new mass wasting that sent debris into the Rio Sucio.

ICE reported that Mauricio Mora recorded three seismic events in the vicinity of the volcano. These appeared similar to tectonic earthquakes; their hypocenters fell within about 10 km of Irazú's main crater.

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: Erick Fernandez, Vilma Barboza, and Jorge Barquero, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismologia y Vulcanologia del Arenal y Miravalles (OSIVAM), Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica; Mauricio Mora, Escuela Centroamericana de Geologia, Universidad de Costa Rica.