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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — December 1979


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 12 (December 1979)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Poas (Costa Rica) Small phreatic explosions resume

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1979. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 4:12. Smithsonian Institution.


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Small phreatic explosions from the crater lake resumed in September after about 9 months of quiet. Water and tephra formed frequent mushroom- or pine-tree-shaped clouds that rose 15-300 m. Tephra fall was confined to the crater lake. Vapor emission was continuous, occurring in about equal quantities from the lake and the N wall of the central "dome" [the eroded cone from the 1953-55 eruption at the S end of the lake].

On 29 November, personnel from the Volcanology Project, National University, descended into the crater. Explosions, accompanied by strong noise, occurred at 20-minute intervals. The mean lake temperature had risen to 65°C, from 30-40°C in August. Some morphological changes had taken place, for which the Volcanology Project personnel suggested two causes: the force of the explosions had dislodged material from the crater walls, especially at the S coast of the lake, and tephra fall into the lake produced wave surges, which caused landslides when they struck the crater walls. The level of the lake had risen about 2 m because of heavy rainfall.

Geological Summary. The broad, well-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, which is one of Costa Rica's most prominent natural landmarks, are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the 2708-m-high complex stratovolcano extends to the lower northern flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear and last erupted about 7500 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 the first historical eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero H., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.