Volcanic activity last year increased over recent years, according to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), based at Universidad Nacional (UNA) in Heredia, north of San José.
The volcano and earthquake study center kept tabs on Costa Rica’s volcanic activity throughout the year and made visits to the country’s five active volcanoes for field research.
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, located in the northwest province of Guanacaste, appeared stable throughout the year, despite the presence of a volcanic lake with high levels of evaporation, the researchers said in a statement released at the end of the year.
Arenal Volcano, a popular volcano for tourists located near the town of La Fortuna, northwest of San José, continued its pattern of regular eruptions of lava and gases, though lava flows and avalanches on the southwest side of the volcano in June and July caused “concern and admiration,” without damaging infrastructure or causing any injuries, OVSICORI reported.
In September, La Fortuna was sprinkled with ash, which was chalked up simply to a change in the normal direction of the wind.
At Poás Volcano, Costa Rica’s most-visited national park, located just northwest of San José, two minor eruptions occurred Jan. 28, but did not threaten visitors, and the park was not closed.
As for Irazú Volcano, located east of San José in the province of Cartago, the observatory noted “processes of physical instability” on the interior of the volcano’s crater, on the northeast flank, near the peak and on external walls. The bright green lake formed in the volcano’s crater, a popular draw for tourists to Irazú, shrunk to its lowest level since the 1980s.
The Turrialba Volcano, east of San José on the Caribbean slope, released unusually high amounts of sulfur and other gases, with “robust” columns of steam and toxic gases stretching kilometers from the volcano’s crater. The researchers also observed that natural vegetation and commercial pastures on the volcano’s slopes burned, in some cases totally, as far as four kilometers from the volcano’s peak.
The observatory concluded that the year’s volcanic activity, with the exception of Arenal, fell within normal levels.