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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — June 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 6 (June 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Poas (Costa Rica) New fumaroles and hot springs, both with temperatures up to 97°C

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199506-345040


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2697 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fumarolic degassing and weak bubbling continued in the crater lake; during May and June evaporative steam clouds hovered as high as 50 to perhaps 100 m above the lake. OVSICORI-UNA reported that in May and June the lake had temperatures of 43 and 39°C, respectively, a sky blue color, and its level dropped by 1 m each month with respect to the level in April.

On the terrace SW and W of the crater lake, two nascent springs appeared in May with 95 and 97°C temperatures. The springs looked dark--the color of black coffee--an effect presumably induced by suspended sediment. In June these springs contained small rising bubbles, and the descent of the lake surface exposed a former subaqueous fumarole to direct view. Its temperature was 95°C.

During May, new fumaroles also appeared on the S and SW crater walls; they had 90-97°C temperatures, gave off minor columns of gases, and contained freshly sublimated sulfur. Continued reports from Park Guards mentioned that when the wind blows S, residents smell sulfur. Various other fumaroles remained active, for example on the S and SW shores of the lake, and from the pyroclastic cone (84°C in May, and 81-91°C in June). The N crater wall continued to slide into the crater lake.

Low-frequency seismic activity in May and June totalled 3,857 and 2,580 events, respectively. The day with the largest number of events in the two month interval was 4 May: 201 events. On 19-20 May several intervals of continuous tremor (at 1.8-1.9 Hz, 6-8 mm amplitude) prevailed for a total of 3 hours.

Only a small change in inclination took place during May (<10 µrad, located near the summit). No other significant change affected either the inclination network or the network of surveyed distances to the summit and active crater.

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: E. Fernandez, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, W. Jimenez and R. Saenz, OVSICORI-UNA; Mauricio Mora, Escuela Centroamericana de Geologia, Universidad de Costa Rica; G.J. Soto, ICE.