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Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) — June 1995


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

Irazu (Costa Rica) Heavy rains trigger landslides and lahars

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Irazu (Costa Rica) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199506-345060


Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

In June, the dark yellow, weakly bubbling lake rose to cover the entire crater floor at Irazú. Crater walls continued to slump into the lake on the N, E, and SE sides. At the site of the 9 December 1994 phreatic eruption (on the NW flank), the established fumaroles remained both near the collapsed wall and in the inner vent area. On the NE sector of the 9 December deposit, some fumaroles have ceased, while on the SW sector some new fumaroles have emerged. Accessible fumaroles had temperatures in the 80-90°C range.

The NE flank remained unstable and continued producing small landslides. Heavy rains have triggered lahars that have traveled down the upper to middle reaches of the Sucio river.

On 25 June, 3 earthquakes took place along local faults with epicenters 9-10 km NE of the main crater. The earthquake magnitudes were 2.5, 3.1, and 3.3; depths were 8, 6, and 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: E. Fernandez, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, W. Jimenez, and R. Saenz, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Mauricio Mora, Escuela Centroamericana de Geologia, Universidad de Costa Rica; G.J. Soto, Oficina de Sismologia y Vulcanologia del Arenal y Miravalles (OSIVAM), Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica.