The spewing of ash, rocks and gases that started Friday at Turrialba Volcano continued almost uninterrupted Monday afternoon, the National University’s Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) reported.
The volcano, located some 60 kilometers northeast of San José, recorded two explosions that exceeded 3,000 m (9,800 feet) in height Friday. A new explosion at 8 a.m. Monday reached 2,500 m (8,200 feet), the agency reported.
OVSICORI volcanologist Eliécer Duarte said the volcano has been spewing materials for over 75 hours, with only brief periods of calm.
Ashes from the explosions caused a power outage in an area within 5 kilometers of the volcano and also affected OVSICORI’s cameras and measuring instruments at the crater.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE) on Sunday banned all access to the volcano within a 2 km radius. The prohibition prevented OVSICORI from sending technical staff to repair the equipment.
Citizens over the weekend posted reports on OVSICORI’s Facebook page of ash falling in communities all over the Central Valley, which comprises the provinces of San José, Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela.
In San José most of the reports were from people in the northern cantons of Goicoechea, Coronado and Moravia.
OVSICORI also received reports of falling ash from the Heredia cantons of Santo Domingo, San Isidro and Belén, and as far as La Guácima in Alajuela province.
Communities around the volcano were affected by ash mainly in the Cartago cantons of Oreamuno and Turrialba.
Oreamuno Mayor Catalina Coghi Ulloa said material from the volcano affected some 20 dairy farms and nearly 2,000 animals in these cantons. “Milk production in the area has been reduced by at least 15 percent in the past days due to the constant ashfall,” she said.
Iván Brenes, president of the Emergency Commission, on Monday morning said that it started distributing hay bales and that experts from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) are evaluating animals.
Ministry officials also are conducting inspections to assess the effect of ash on crops.
Agriculture is one of Cartago’s main economic activities, and farmers in the north of the province are the country’s top potato producers, supplying 80 percent of all potatoes consumed in Costa Rica, according to MAG.
The region also is the largest producer of onions, while hundreds of other farmers also grow carrots, beets, cabbages, yucca, flowers and other crops.
Early estimates from MAG say ash from Turrialba would have affected some 55 percent of the crops in the region.