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Report on San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — December 1996

San Cristobal

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 21, no. 12 (December 1996)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua) December vapor plumes appear smaller than previous ones

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on San Cristobal (Nicaragua) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199612-344020

San Cristobal


12.702°N, 87.004°W; summit elev. 1745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Since the end of the last rainy season, the vapor plume continuously present over the volcano has reduced in size compared to recent years. Late in 1996, fumaroles outside the crater decreased significantly. Fumaroles inside the crater concentrated in the lower part of the S and SE walls and had temperatures estimated to be in the 650-700°C range.

During the night and early morning on 24 December several incandescent areas were observed in the crater. These areas were similar to those reported over the past 15 years. Incandescence was visible from the top of the volcano at 500 m distance, and from the rim of the 1976 crater, a feature 400 m in diameter and 100-150 m deep. During 1996 small local earthquakes were detected monthly.

Geological Summary. The San Cristóbal volcanic complex, consisting of five principal volcanic edifices, forms the NW end of the Marrabios Range. The symmetrical 1745-m-high youngest cone, named San Cristóbal (also known as El Viejo), is Nicaragua's highest volcano and is capped by a 500 x 600 m wide crater. El Chonco, with several flank lava domes, is located 4 km W of San Cristóbal; it and the eroded Moyotepe volcano, 4 km NE of San Cristóbal, are of Pleistocene age. Volcán Casita, containing an elongated summit crater, lies immediately east of San Cristóbal and was the site of a catastrophic landslide and lahar in 1998. The Plio-Pleistocene La Pelona caldera is located at the eastern end of the complex. Historical eruptions from San Cristóbal, consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been reported since the 16th century. Some other 16th-century eruptions attributed to Casita volcano are uncertain and may pertain to other Marrabios Range volcanoes.

Information Contacts: Alain Creusot, Instituto Nicaraguense de Energía, Managua, Nicaragua.