Turrialba in Costa Rica erupts and a close view at Poas

Yet another new eruption for 2010!

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica in an undated photo.

Turrialba in Costa Rica erupted today, prompting the evacuation of tens of people from the region near the volcano. The eruption appears to be relatively small, producing ash and some pyroclastic material. The area around the volcano is not very populated and isn't near the profitable coffee-growing region of Costa Rica. This eruption is the first at Turrialba since 1866, over 130 years ago. That eruption was a VEI 3, so Turrialba is definitely a volcano to watch if the activity continues.

Also in Costa Rica, Poas volcano is erupting. Tourists captured early stages of the eruption. A CBS affiliate in Georgia has a story about the video, although the article is pretty vague in many ways, including:

  • "He says this type of volcano doesn't put out liquid lava. It instead puts out a dry lava with steam."
  • "Tom says that this is the first time in the history of Costa Rica that anyone has recorded video of an erupting volcano."

So, a little sketchy. It think the reports got a little confused with the difference between explosive and effusive eruptions. However, the videos (click on the right side menu to see more) are rather impressive (and short), although the tourists seem a little blase about the eruption going on right in front of them. However, why Tom thinks this is the "first time in the history of Costa Rica that anyone has recorded video of an erupting volcano" is beyond me (hello, Arenal). It is interesting video nevertheless.

{Hat tip to Damon Hynes for info on the Poas video.}

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Turrialba has been acted up for several years now,maybe sometihng bigger is on the way?

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 05 Jan 2010 #permalink

Yup, there definitely has been rumbling and steaming at Turrialba, but this sounds like the first eruptive event in a long time. One to watch ...

Can't believe that just a couple of years ago people were allowed to hike all the way down into the crater, just like I did about 5 years ago, an experience impossible to forget!!! It definitely is a beautiful place to visit, once the eruptions stop of course. In the meantime you can come over and hike Rincón de la Vieja Volcano (even make it to the very summit and see the Pacific Ocean, Nicoya PenÃnsula and Nicaragua Lake) or Chirripo Mountain, the highest of Costa Rica with an impressive view -Both, Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea!!!-

I had contact with the tourist guide of Tom Wellmann, who caught this video on tape. He said he has made some photos of this eruption of Poas at the 25th of december. I suggested to send it to this blog. On youtube there is one big eruption of Poas shown form an old movie, but I think that is another volcano, so maybe wrong description at youtube. I was at the Kawah Ijen at Java last year and I imagined how an eruption of an acid lake would look like. Am I wrong or not? Is this the first time that an eruption of an acid lake-volcano was captured? I have never seen that so far....

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 05 Jan 2010 #permalink

In his interview he says it's the first time THIS volcano has been filmed in the first stages of an eruption.


The Poas eruption was certainly not the first in Costa Rica to be videoed. The old video Thomas referred to is indeed of Poas's large explosive eruption in the mid-1950s and originally comes from the OVSICORI web site, where they also have a historical video of Irazu's mid-1960s eruption. Poas has had numerous minor eruptions like that of Christmas Day 2009 in the 20th century, many of which have been photographed and filmed, and two major ones - the cited one in the 1950s and another in the late-1980s. During both the crater lake dried up, and activity seems to have become magmatic for brief periods. Quite a bit like the White Island (New Zealand) eruptions in the 1970s-1980s or Ruapehu in 1945 and 1995-1996.
The Turrialba activity is interesting, this volcano seems to be veeeeeeeeeery sloooooooooowly waking up, it's quite fascinating to see how some volcanoes go to full scale paroxysm in a few days (or, like Chaitén, in a few hours) and others take many months or years.
By the way, a source of many press volcano photos is "Daylife", http://www.daylife.com/search/photos?q=volcano - today it has a number of fine images of Nyamuragira (or Nyamulagira, as it is spelled more recently), but if you go back in time you'll come across an incredible amount of Mayon stuff ...

I should add some words about Nyamuragira and what you can see in the Daylife press photos - there are two that are especially interesting.

This photo shows a narrow (inactive but very recent) fissure, which probably represents the uppermost portion of the new flank fissure system that became active on 2 January 2010. The fissure actually cuts the rim of Nyamuragira's caldera, whose flat floor with some steaming areas are seen in the background.

This is a view of a part of the caldera, with a pit (I think this formed during the 1938-1940 eruption) that has two actively fountaining vents building a small cone. From this we understand that this eruption is a summit-flank eruption, like a few in the past (check the Global Volcanism Program's Nyamuragira entry for details: http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0203-02=)

Thanks for the Info, Boris, since it's foggy here today, i'll be there.

Yes thanks for the Infos about Poas, Boris. Mastermind of volcanos! Do you have any idea if an eruption of an acid lake is seen somewhere besides this new one of Poas?

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 06 Jan 2010 #permalink

Hi Thomas,

do you mean videos of eruptions from acidic lakes? Bear in mind virtually every crater lake is acidic to some extent, generally all the more so, the closer the volcano gets to eruption due to all the dissolved SO2. Admittedly, not all are as acidic as Poas. Even so, I believe there are some videos of Ruapehu erupting that might fit the bill.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 06 Jan 2010 #permalink

Hi Bruce, yes I´m searching for videos of volcanos with an acid lake, where you can see the beginning of an eruption (Ruapehu is already in full activity and I did not know that it had an acid lake). I´m sure there are some, even from Poas as Mr.Behnicke remarked, but are they published somewhere?

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 07 Jan 2010 #permalink

Hi hello my name is Ani.I am a student in Ca in sixth grade.Our teacher gave us a project to do on a volcano. I choose the one there in Coasta Rica named Poas volcano.For the project we need to contact somebody who was a witness of the volcano and ask the following questions:How many people visit the volcano each year,what are the weather conditions at the volcano site and are they affected by eruptions,and are there any new landforms or deformation caused by the volcano. I was also wondering if you have any contact info about the people who did witness the eruption of this volcano.Please return by email by 1/17/10. Thank You so much and I hope to hear back from you.

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