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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Eruption threat leads to extended closure of Turrialba Volcano National Park

Turrialba Volcano National Park will remain closed until at least November 19 due to the ongoing threat of volcanic activity, authorities announced.

According to the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), sensors continue to detect an increase of volcanic gases — including sulfur dioxide — at Turrialba. As a result, authorities will keep the park closed as a precautionary measure while the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) continues monitoring the stratovolcano.

Turrialba Volcano National Park was closed starting November 3, following a small eruption. A column of ash rose 200 meters above the crater (about 3,540 meters above sea level) during the event, which had a duration of one minute:

Turrialba Volcano National Park reopened last December. It had been closed to the public since 2012, when the volcano increased in activity and experienced several moderate-sized eruptions. In addition to the park’s closure, authorities had maintained a 2 km forbidden zone around the crater.

In 2015, ash from Turrialba suspended flights at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) near San José.

But the stratovolcano had decreased in activity over recent years, and SINAC constructed safety shelters and barriers — in addition to mandating hard hats — as safety measures for visitors to the active crater.

In addition to the volcano itself, on clear days visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the Caribbean plains, Turrialba valley, and Talamanca mountain range. Some 84 species of birds and 11 species of mammals inhabit the park.

Visiting Turrialba Volcano involves a 4 km (2.5 mile) hike of moderate to high difficulty from the entrance to the craters. Visitors must make prior reservations by calling 8534-1063 and enter at Finca Monte Calas (Google Maps link).

The cost is 6,000 colones for the required guide, plus 1,000 colones for citizens/residents and $12 for non-residents.

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