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Report on Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — July 2022

Rincon de la Vieja

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 47, no. 7 (July 2022)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Research and preparation by Paul Berger.

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Numerous weak explosions from September 2021 through June 2022

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 47:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN202207-345020

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Rincón de la Vieja, a remote volcanic complex in NW Costa Rica with an acid lake, exhibits numerous weak phreatic (hydrothermal) explosions along with associated gas-and steam emissions and an occasional plume (BGVN 46:11). This report covers activity during September 2021-June 2022, and is based primarily on weekly bulletins and occasional daily reports from the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) and satellites.

During September 2021-June 2022, the level of activity continued as before, with frequent weak phreatic explosions every month (table 7), except that no explosions were reported between 21 October and 25 December 2021. Based on OVSICORI-UNA reports, plumes rose no more than 500 m above the crater rim, with the exception of stronger explosions on 25 January, 7 April, and 6 June. Explosions produced lahars on 5 and 13 January. OVSICORI-UNA reports suggested that an explosion on 5 January may have been phreatomagmatic in nature (i.e., interaction between water and magma).

Table 7. Summary of activity at Rincón de la Vieja during September 2021-June 2022. Explosions were weak and phreatic. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA (compiled from weekly bulletins and occasional daily reports).

Date Description of Activity
01 Sep 2021 Small explosion. No visual observation.
29 Sep 2021 Possible explosion. No confirmation.
13 Oct 2021 Explosion at 0750 produced a plume that rose 500 m above crater rim and drifted SW.
14-15 Oct 2021 Fumarolic activity inside the crater visible. Possible explosion on 14 Oct.
21 Oct 2021 Explosion.
25 Dec 2021 Small 4-minute explosion at 1015 was recorded. No visually observation. Rain washed deposited acidic sediment downstream in the Pénjamo, Azul, and Azufrada drainages, into the aquatic ecosystem.
28 Dec 2021 Explosions recorded at 1402 and 1630. No visual confirmation.
01 Jan 2022 Small explosion at 1437 produced a plume that rose 50 m above crater rim.
04 Jan 2022 Small explosion at 0431. No visual confirmation.
05 Jan 2022 Multiple phreatic or phreatomagmatic explosions, most were small. A notable explosion at 1833 ejected incandescent material above the crater rim that was visible in webcam images for about 30 seconds. Darkness obscured views of a plume and no ash was visible in satellite images. Residents reported hearing a loud explosion and sounds indicating active lahars; lahars in the Pénjamo and Azufrado rivers reached residential areas within 50 minutes of the event.
10 Jan 2022 Explosion at 1858. No visual confirmation.
13 Jan 2022 Explosion at 0024 lasting two minutes. No visual confirmation. Residents to the N heard explosion and felt vibrations; lahars in the Rio Azul.
15 Jan 2022 Small explosion at 1153.
18 Jan 2022 Small explosion at 1243.
19 Jan 2022 Explosion.
20 Jan 2022 Explosion at 2227 lasting 1-2 minutes. No visual confirmation.
23 Jan 2022 Explosion at 0225 lasting 1-2 minutes. No visual confirmation.
25 Jan 2022 Explosion at 1139 generated plume that rose 500-1,000 m.
26 Jan 2022 Explosion at 2250. No visual confirmation.
27 Jan 2022 Explosions at 0716 and 1050. No visual confirmation.
30 Jan 2022 Explosion at 1308. No visual confirmation.
01 Feb 2022 Explosion at 0447. No visual confirmation.
02 Feb 2022 Explosion at 1853.
20 Feb 2022 Small explosion at 1649.
09 Mar 2022 Moderate explosion.
15 Mar 2022 Explosion at 0956. No visual confirmation.
19 Mar 2022 Explosion at 0405 lasting 1-8 minutes. No visual confirmation.
20 Mar 2022 Explosion at 1402 lasting 1-8 minutes. No visual confirmation.
22 Mar 2022 Explosion at 0350 lasting 1 minute. No visual confirmation.
23 Mar 2022 A series of pulses occurred over a 20-minute period, at 0140, 0146, and 0159, with additional small explosions at 1045, 1339, 1939, and 2244. No visual confirmation although according to Washington VAAC a possible ash emission was visible in satellite images at 1420 drifting W at an altitude of 2.7 km.
25 Mar 2022 Series of small explosions during 0129-0140. No visual confirmation.
26 Mar 2022 Small explosions with possible two separate pulses. No visual confirmation.
27 Mar 2022 Explosion. According to OVSICORI-UNA, 10 explosions were recorded since 15 March.
28-29 Mar 2022 Swarm of long-period earthquakes detected.
04 Apr 2022 Explosion lasting for 1.5 minutes generated plume. No visual confirmation of plume height.
06 Apr 2022 Small explosion at 0136. No visual observation.
07 Apr 2022 Two small explosions at 1141 and 1323. Plumes rose 1 km and 0.5 km, respectively, above crater.
25 Apr 2022 Small explosion. No visual confirmation.
26 Apr 2022 Small explosion at 0156. No visual confirmation.
28 Apr 2022 Small explosion.
05 May 2022 Average of two daily explosions during previous week. The events did not eject material outside of the crater and produced steam plumes that rose no higher than 200 m above the crater rim.
06 May 2022 Explosion at 1650 generated steam plume that rose 500 m.
07 May 2022 Several explosions and steam emissions.
08 May 2022 Several steam emissions.
13 May 2022 Small explosions (23) recorded during previous week. Explosions at 2328 on 10 May and 0700 on 11 May. No visual confirmation.
18 May 2022 Explosion at 1343 generated a steam-and-gas plume that rose 200 m above crater rim.
19 May 2022 Explosion at 1710 generated a gas-and-steam plume that rose 100 m above summit.
14-20 May 2022 At least six small explosions.
21 May 2022 Explosions at 0251 and 0443.
25-28 May 2022 Several small explosions. An explosion at 1730 on 25 May produced minor ashfall on local plants located on the upper flanks. Weather conditions often prevented views of plumes.
04 Jun 2022 Possible minor emission. No visual confirmation.
06 Jun 2022 Explosion at 0804 generated steam plume that rose about 3 km above the summit. Sulfur dioxide from the plume was detected by an instrument located to the S. Another explosion at 1204, but no visual confirmation.
04-10 Jun 2022 25 explosions.
11-15 Jun 2022 19 explosions.
27 Jun 2022 Explosion.

Geological Summary. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A Plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3,500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/, https://www.facebook.com/OVSICORI/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).