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Turrialba Volcano spreads ash across Central Valley; Airport remains open

May 12, 2016

A spectacular eruption at Turrialba Volcano, some 50 kilometers east of Costa Rica’s capital, San José, spread ash across the Central Valley in the early hours of Thursday.

The eruption was recorded at 1:19 a.m.

Juan Santamaría International Airport remained open with normal operations on Thursday morning.

However, Tobías Bolaños Airport, in western San José, was closed while staff cleaned off the landing strip, the Civil Aviation Administration reported. They expect to reopen the terminal at around 11 a.m.

Javier Pacheco, a volcanologist with the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), said the eruption was very strong and reached some 3 kilometers above the volcano’s summit.

“It was a single explosion but a really strong one. This means that there was high pressure inside the volcano,” he said.

Many people posted messages and pictures on the Facebook page of the University of Costa Rica’s National Seismological Network (RSN). They reported profuse ashfall and a strong smell of sulfur in many communities of Cartago, Alajuela, Heredia and San José provinces.

RSN volcanologist Mauricio Mora said “current wind patterns caused the expelled materials to travel southeast of the volcano.”

Mora said seismic activity at Turrialba now “is relatively low but similar to that registered prior to the explosion.”

At around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, a column of vapor and gases was visible above the crater, a common sight in recent months.

Watch a video of the explosion from the National Seismological Network:

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