Two new explosion of gas and ash Friday mid-morning broke a brief period of low activity at Turrialba Volcano, located in the province of Cartago, 67 kilometers from the capital San José.
The new explosions follow one that occurred at 4:30 a.m. Friday and four on Thursday.
The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI)’s web cameras recorded the explosions Friday. The agency reported that columns of material reached some 1,500 meters high (4,921 feet), similar to those recorded on Thursday.
Spewings of ash and gases lasted for periods of some 30 minutes, OVSICORI reported.
Volcanologists are currently examining samples of materials expelled by the volcano in order to determine whether there’s fresh magma, Eliécer Duarte González, a volcanologist with OVSICORI’s Volcano Surveillance Department, told The Tico Times.
“So far, we don’t have any visual confirmation on magma levels rising up,” he said, “however the characteristics of the explosions suggest magma levels could be increasing inside the crater,” he said Friday morning.
Earlier on Friday, National Police officers closed all main access roads to the volcano, allowing passage only to residents and workers in nearby communities.
Following recommendations of the National Emergency Commission, Public Education Ministry officials suspended classes in 19 schools: 12 in Turrialba and 7 in other cantons of Cartago.
False rumor of water contamination
Hundreds of people reacted with alarm Friday morning to rumors circulating on social networks that the water supply in the metropolitan area had been contaminated by ash.
But Costa Rica’s Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) reported Friday that the volcano’s activity had not affected drinking water.
AyA Executive President Yamileth Astorga said the rumors were completely false.
“At the time there is no need to issue any public alert on water contamination,” she said.
Astorga said experts at AyA’s National Water Laboratory are conducting frequent monitoring at all water distribution plants. In case of any detected contamination, AyA would immediately cut off the contaminated supply.
Still, Astorga advised the population to keep fresh water on hand as a precaution, in case any increase in the volcano’s activity compromises the water supply in coming days.