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Turrialba Volcano Emits Yellow Dust and Gases

September 11, 2009

Scientists from the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), based at the National University (UNA) in Heredia, recently noticed some changes to the landscape at Turrialba Volcano, southeast of the Central Valley.

Researchers who toured the area during the last two weeks of August reported that “yellow, straw-colored circles” covered approximately four kilometers of trees.

Other plants appeared to have sustained wind damage.

Investigators also discovered new crevices that had opened and were emitting plumes of steam and sulfur. Cracks of up to 12 centimeters wide and gases rising to 300 meters also were noted.

“These observations are more intense than ones we have noticed before, but it’s nothing extremely dangerous,” said Juan Segura, a volcanologist at the OVSICORI.

Segura said the trees could have been turned yellow by the vapor the new crevices are emitting or by this year’s dry weather conditions.

Still, some families living near the volcano have been voluntarily leaving the area of late after noticing changes to vegetation and cattle paths.

The National Emergency Committee (CNE) hosted a meeting at the church in nearby Santa Rosa last week to inform residents of the situation, Turrialba neighbors told The Tico Times.

Segura noted that those who want to visit the area should do so on the volcano’s south and southwest sides to avoid inhaling the toxic gases the mountain is releasing. So far, no mandatory evacuations have been ordered.

–Mike McDonald

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