Last week and into the weekend, Costa Rica was set rumbling by volcanic activity once again, this time by eruptions at the Poás Volcano National Park. Several eruptions propelled hot rocks, some as large as two meters in width, into the air, peppering the area and damaging trails and park infrastructure. The eruptions have also caused emission of gas and vapors and destroyed part of the dome surrounding the crater. Due to ongoing safety concerns, the park has closed indefinitely until staff can categorize the area as safe from further volcanic activity, assess the damage, and make repairs.
Located just an hour northwest of San José, Poás is perhaps the country’s most easily accessible volcano. Authorities are currently monitoring the situation closely due to the volcano’s close proximity to the capital and surrounding communities; monitoring stations across the region are reporting increased levels of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide in the air. The high levels of these gases could possibly indicate the presence of new magma near the surface of the crater.
This eruptive activity follows several recent explosions at the neighboring Turrialba Volcano, which has consistently been belching ash and vapor into the air over the last several months. According to National Emergency Commission (CNE), the eruptions are not related.
The volcano’s last major eruption took place in 1953, the event which formed Poas’ famous crater. Since then, the main crater has remained active to varying degrees; the park closed briefly in 1989 after a minor eruption, and it closed multiple times in 1995 due to lesser activity. The Poás Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s most visited volcanic attractions, hosting around 250,000 visitors a year.