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Report on Poas (Costa Rica) — February 1981

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 2 (February 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Poas (Costa Rica) Phreatic explosions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Poas (Costa Rica) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198102-345040.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fumarolic activity continued during August and early September. Sulfurous vapors emitted under pressure from the N wall of the dome in the crater lake rose noisily in an almost continuous column about 200 m high. The lake color was turquoise green. Temperatures registered 40°C in the N part of the lake, 45°C in the S part near the "dome," and 70-90°C in accessible fumaroles on the dome.

On [12] September at 0950 an explosion from the S part of the lake (near the "dome") produced a 250-m-high column of lake water laden with ash, sand, and small blocks rich in mineralized sulfur. The ejecta fell back into the lake and onto the E shore where they covered an area of 50 m2. A landslide that originated from the NE part of the "dome," the area of greatest fumarole activity, deposited debris in the lake and changed the morphology of the E sector of the crater.

The initial activity was followed by similar explosions throughout September and October [but see 06:03 and 06:05]. Institute of Volcanology scientists had predicted resumption of phreatic activity from the thermal behavior of the lake, which had been similar to the pattern observed before previous such eruptions. Temperatures declined slightly in October, to 40°C in the NE part of the lake from 45°C in September, and to 45°C in the SE sector (near the September explosion site) from 50°C in September. Temperatures of the accessible fumaroles on the dome continued to oscillate between 70 and 90°C in September and October.

Geologic Background. 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.