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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Powerful Eruption Rocks Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

The Rincón de la Vieja volcano, in northern Costa Rica, registered yesterday a “powerful” eruption with no reported effects to people or infrastructure, one month after the last notable eruptive event, authorities reported.

“Today at 14H34 (local time, 20H34 GMT) the Rincón de la Vieja volcano has made a powerful eruption,” said in a video Cyrill Müller, volcanologist of the Vulcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (Ovsicori) of the National University (UNA).

“The plume composed of water vapor and volcanic material reached a height of 3,000 meters above crater level,” he added.

This eruption was “phreatic”, and occurs when there is interaction between hot magma and water, which vaporizes and increases 1,000 times its volume in seconds, producing an explosion.

The Rincón de la Vieja volcano is one of the five active volcanoes in Costa Rica, located in the Guanacaste region about 270 km northwest of San José.

So far it is at level 2 of 4 alert, which means a state of “significant” seismicity and small eruptions with “significant emission of acid gases”, according to the Vulcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica.

Müller pointed out that the eruption, which occurs one month after the last similar one, “generated lahars on the northern flank, which are a mixture of mud and hot water that comes out of the lake when there is an eruption”.

These sediments descended through the channels of the volcano’s slopes and dragged sediments downhill, according to the National Emergency Center (CNE).

“This month the volcano has remained in constant eruption,” the CNE said, and warned the inhabitants of several localities near the volcano to “stay away from the riverbeds that could transport materials and sediments from the volcano”.

The activity registered by the Rincón de la Vieja volcano is the “most energetic of the month”, said Müller, but it is not the highest of the year.

The volcanologist added that monitoring parameters warn that “there is probably a small intrusion of magma and volcanic ridges below the crater”.

The Rincón de la Vieja volcano is a 1,895-meter-high massif located in the Central Mountain range of Costa Rica, which runs through the center of the country from north to south.

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