Rincón de la Vieja

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  • Country
  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 10.83°N
  • 85.324°W

  • 1916 m
    6284 ft

  • 345020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

27 February-5 March 2013

OVSICORI-UNA received reports at 0530 on 26 February of pulsing white plumes rising from Rincon de la Vieja's active crater about every four minutes. The seismic records showed no signals associated with a phreatic eruption or sudden gas output. Cloud cover prevented views of the active crater during an overflight later that day, however clear views of the N and S flanks and areas SW showed no changes.

Source: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA)



 Available Weekly Reports


2013: February
2012: February | April
2011: September


27 February-5 March 2013

OVSICORI-UNA received reports at 0530 on 26 February of pulsing white plumes rising from Rincon de la Vieja's active crater about every four minutes. The seismic records showed no signals associated with a phreatic eruption or sudden gas output. Cloud cover prevented views of the active crater during an overflight later that day, however clear views of the N and S flanks and areas SW showed no changes.

Source: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA)


11 April-17 April 2012

OVSICORI-UNA reported that a small phreatic eruption occurred within and around the hot acidic lake of Rincon de la Vieja at 1400 on 14 April. Observers from nearby communities N of the volcano reported some sediment deposition along the outer N flanks of the main active crater and a white steam plume rising to a considerable height above the crater.

Source: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA)


22 February-28 February 2012

OVSICORI-UNA reported that seismic data revealed two eruptions on 19 and 20 February from Rincón de la Vieja's active crater. Two more eruptions also occurred on 23 February. Explosions were heard in Guachipelin (11 km SW) between 0400 and 0430.

Source: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA)


28 September-4 October 2011

On 30 September, OVSICORI-UNA reported phreatic eruptions from Rincón de la Vieja's active crater during the previous six weeks. A well-documented event on 16 September ejected sediment that covered sections of the upper N walls. Some of the material was washed down the flanks and caused changes in water quality along the main creeks and major rivers up to 18 km away from the source. The death of several fish species was noted the next day and sediment deposits 10-15 cm deep were sampled 2 km N of the active crater. Scientists conducting fieldwork during 27-29 September observed that the hot lake was convecting and grayish in color due to the suspended sediments. Preliminary deformation and temperature measurements did not indicate any significant changes.

Source: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA)


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2012 Feb 19 2012 Apr 14 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Crater lake
2011 Aug 15 ± 3 days 2011 Sep 26 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Crater lake
1998 Feb 15 1998 Sep Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1995 Nov 6 1995 Nov 13 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1991 May 7 1992 Sep Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1987 Apr 1 1987 Apr 1 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1986 Dec 31 1986 Dec 31 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1985 Sep 1986 Apr Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1984 Mar 31 1984 Apr Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1983 Feb 6 1983 Feb 21 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1970 Aug 14 1970 Aug 15 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1969 Sep 20 1969 Oct 16 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1969 Apr 22 1969 May Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1966 Nov 6 (?) 1967 Dec Confirmed 3 Historical Observations
1922 Apr 11 (in or before) 1922 Jun 4 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1917 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1912 Jun 14 Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations
[ 1902 Jun 22 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
1854 1863 Aug Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1853 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1851 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1849 Unknown Confirmed 2 Unknown
1844 May Unknown Confirmed 2 Unknown
1765 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1529 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
0430 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
1820 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Río Blanco tephra

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Alvarado G E, 1989. Los Volcanes de Costa Rica. San Jose, Costa Rica: Universidad Estatal a Distancia, 175 p.

Alvarado G E, 2000. Volcanes de Costa Rica: su geologia, historia y riqueza natural. San Jose, Costa Rica: EUNED, 269 p.

Alvarado G E, Vega E, Chaves J, Vasquez M, 2004. Los grandes deslizamientos (volcanicos y no volcanicos) de tip debris avalanche en Costa Rica. Rev Geol Amer Central, 30: 83-99.

Alvarado G, Acevedo A P, Monsalve M L, Espindola J M, Gomez D, Hall M, Naranjo J A, Pulgarin B, Raigosa J, Sigaran C, Van der Laat R, 1999. El desarrollo de la vulcanologia en Latinoamerica en el ultimo cuarto del siglo XX. Rev Geofis, 51: 185-241.

Alvarado-Induni G E, 2005. Costa Rica, Land of Volcanoes. San Jose, Costa Rica: EUNID, 306 p.

Barquero J, de Dios Segura J, 1983. La actividad del Volcan Rincon de la Vieja. Univ Nac Bol Vulc, 13: 5-10.

Barquero-H J, Saenz-R R, 1987. Aparatos volcanicos de Costa Rica. Heredia, Costa Rica: OVSICORI-UNA, 1:750,000 map and volcano list.

Boudon G, Rancon J-P, Kieffer G, Soto G J, Traineau H, Rossignol J-C, 1995. Estilo eruptivo actual del volcan Rincon de la Vieja: evidencias de los productos de las erupciones de 1966-70 y 1991-92. Rothschildia, 2(2): 10-13.

Boudon G, Rancon J-P, Kieffer G, Soto G J, Traineau H, Rossignol J-C, 1996. Les eruptions de 1966-1970 et 1991-92 du volcan Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica: exemple d'activite recurrente d'un systeme hydromagmatique. Compte Rendus Acad Sci Paris, Ser II, 332: 101-108.

Carr M J, 1984. Symmetrical and segmented variation of physical and geochemical characterisitics of the Central American volcanic front. J Volc Geotherm Res, 20: 231-252.

Carr M J, Chesner C A, Gemmell J B, 1986. Nuevos analisis de lavas y bombas del volcan Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica. Bol Vulc Univ Nac Costa Rica, 16: 23-26.

Chiesa S, Alvarado G E, Pecchio M, Corella M, Zanchi A, 1994. Contribution to petrological and stratigraphical understanding of the Cordillera de Guanacaste lava flows, Costa Rica. Rev Geol Amer Central, 17: 19-43.

Deering C D, Vogel T A, Patino L C, Alvarado G E, 2007. Origin of distinct silicic magma types from the Guachipelin caldera, NW Costa Rica: evidence for magma mixing and protracted subvolcanic residence. J Volc Geotherm Res, 165: 103-126.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Kempter K A, Benner S G, Williams S N, 1996. Rincon de la Vieja volcano, Guanacaste province, Costa Rica: geology of the southwestern flank and hazards implications. J Volc Geotherm Res, 71: 109-127.

Kempter K A, Rowe G L, 2000. Leakage of active crater lake brine through the north flank at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Northwest Costa Rica, and implications for crater collapse. J Volc Geotherm Res, 97: 143-159.

Mainieri P A, 1976. Proyecto geotermico de Guanacaste: informe de previabilidad tecnica. Inst Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), 97 p.

Mooser F, Meyer-Abich H, McBirney A R, 1958. Central America. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 6: 1-146.

Sapper K, 1925. The Volcanoes of Central America. Halle: Verlag Max Niemeyer, 144 p.

Siebert L, Alvarado G E, Vallance J W, van Wyk de Vries B, 2006. Large-volume volcanic edifice failures in Central America and associated hazards. In: Rose W I, Bluth G J S, Carr M J, Ewert J W, Patino L C, Vallance J W (eds), Volcanic hazards in Central America, {Geol Soc Amer Spec Pap}, 412: 1-26.

Smithsonian Institution-SEAN, 1975-89. [Monthly event reports]. Bull Scientific Event Alert Network (SEAN), v 1-14.

Soto G, Alvarado G E, Goold S, 2003. Erupciones <3800 a.P. del volcan Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica. Rev Geol Amer Central, 29: 67-86.

Stine C M, Banks N G, 1991. Costa Rica volcano profile. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 67 p.

Thorpe R S, Brown G, Rymer H, Barritt S, Randal M, 1985. Recent volcano monitoring in Costa Rica. Earthq Inf Bull, 17: 44-49.

Vogel T A, Patino L C, Alvarado G E, Gans P B, 2004. Silicic ignimbrites within the Costa Rican volcanic front: evidence for the formation of continental crust. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 226: 149-159.

Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Rincón de la Vieja, sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," has an estimated volume of 130 cu km and contains at least 9 major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the Rincón complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 cu km Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption from the volcano. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake (known as the Active Crater) located ENE of Von Seebach crater.