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Report on San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — February 1989

San Cristobal

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 2 (February 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua) Fumarole temperature measurements

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on San Cristobal (Nicaragua) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198902-344020

San Cristobal


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Geologists from INETER and Open Univ measured fumarole temperatures at several volcanoes between 17 February and 10 March. Brightness temperatures were obtained with Minolta Cyclops 33 (bandpass 8-14 µm, 1° field of view) and Cyclops 52 (bandpass 0.8-1.1 µm, 0.33° field of view) infrared thermometers. Temperatures are not corrected for emissivity and atmospheric absorption effects.

Geologists climbed the volcano 9 March. Most fumaroles were on the steep inner wall beneath the perched crater terrace. On the edge of the terrace, one 40-cm-wide crack yielded a brightness temperature of 329°C (Cyclops 33; looking down to 2 m depth from 1 m distance). A group of vigorously fuming vents at the base of the wall registered a brightness temperature of 315° (Cyclops 33) from about 40 m distance.

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: C.M.M. Oppenheimer and D.A. Rothery, Open Univ; B. van Vyk de Vries, O. Castellon, and L. Urbina, INETER.