Turrialba

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  • Last Known Eruption
  • 10.025°N
  • 83.767°W

  • 3340 m
    10955 ft

  • 345070
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Most Recent Weekly Report: 17 July-23 July 2013


OVSICORI-UNA reported significant seismic activity at Turrialba starting on 14 July. Low-frequency signals indicating fluid movement grew from an average of less than 200 events per day to over 600 events on 14 July, reaching a peak of activity with over 1,000 events on 15 July. Low-frequency tremor was detected during 18-19 July. Elevated seismicity remained at least through the report posting on 20 July. No morphological changes at the surface were observed.

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


Most Recent Bulletin Report: February 2013 (BGVN 38:02)


Decreased seismicity and emissions in 2012

As noted by our previous report (BGVN 37:06), on 12 January 2012 Turrialba emitted ash for a few hours due to the opening of a vent, named 2012 Vent, on the SW inside slope of Central Crater. Since then, 2012 Vent has been an active contributor to the regular plume generation at the volcano. Our previous report noted activity through May 2012. This report primarily highlights activity through December 2012, based on online documents from the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) showing a diminution in activity during 2012 compared to 2010 and 2011.

Seismicity. According to OVSICORI-UNA, the seismic activity at Turrialba in 2012 was characterized primarily by shallow and volcano-tectonic events concentrated in the upper part of the edifice, and minor seismicity in nearby faults. In general, seismicity was lower in 2012 than in 2011, and notably lower than that in 2010. Seismic activity climbed slightly during September-October 2012 (from about 20/day, peaking at 150/day on 13 October, and then declining back to normal values after 1 November; figure 30). OVSICORI-UNA noted that seismic activity in 2012 was caused by water and heat interactions causing gas pressure.

Figure 30. The number of seismic events registered per day at Turrialba during 2012. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Deformation. OVSICORI-UNA reported that during 2012 the distances between the Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) station “Pilar” and several nearby reflectors contracted from 2 to 7 cm/year, with the highest value at the N reflector and lowest at the ENE and NE reflectors (see figure 31 for EDM station locations).

Figure 31. The location of geodetic monitoring stations at Turriabla during 2012. Red circles are reflectors of the EDM network, and measurements were made from the Pilar station (red square). Blue circles are permanent GPS stations (CAPI and GIBE). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Emissions. According to OVSICORI-UNA, the opening of the 2012 vent was not associated with new magmatic activity. Vent temperatures measured with a thermocouple were similar during 2010-2012, suggesting to OVSICORI-UNA a sustained and common magmatic source. Measured vent temperatures also correlated with CO2 and H2S gas emissions (figure 32).

Figure 32. (Background image) Thermal image of Turrialba’s W wall in Cráter Central (Central Crater) on 27 October 2012. Two vents are indicated, Boca 2012 (2012 Vent) and Cráter Oeste (West Crater). (Plots) For the measurement locations indicated by arrows, plots compare CO2 flux measurements (black) to both H2S flux measurements (blue) and thermal measurements acquired at 10-cm depth (red). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA; thermal photo taken by G. Avard.

OVSICORI-UNA noted that gas emissions during 2012 had decreased considerably compared to those during 2010 and 2011. OVSICORI-UNA suggested that this decrease might be due to various factors, including a decline in rainfall that resulted in less water vapor, the primary component of the emissions. In a report discussing activity during January-February 2013, OVSICORI-UNA noted that the emissions from 2012 Vent had decreased, even though nighttime incandescence could be observed. Emissions drifted primarily NW during 2012.

Figures 33 and 34 summarize SO2 measurements from both miniature Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer (mini-DOAS, fluxes) and OMI satellite data (masses). SO2 fluxes were lower than those in 2010-2011 when fluxes often reached above 1,000 tons/day (and in one case, nearly 4,000 tons/day; figure 34).

Figure 33. (Left) Daily SO2 flux (metric tons/day) at Turrialba measured by a mini-DOAS station at La Central school, ~2.2 km SW of West Crater, between 1 May 2012 and 1 January 2013. (Right) SO2 mass (uncorrected for any noise) emitted by Turrialba as recorded by NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) aboard the AURA satellite during 2012. The SO2 mass corresponds to the total mass detected by the OMI sensor in the Central America area at 1800-1900 UTC. According to OVSICORI, both mini-DOAS and OMI measurements were consistent and of the same magnitude. The red-shaded area in the satellite data represents the time period corresponding to that of the mini DOAS data. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA and NASA-OMI.
Figure 34. SO2 mass emitted by Turrialba as recorded by NASA’s OMI instrument aboard the AURA satellite between 1 October 2008 and 6 November 2012. These represent masses in the atmospheric column that are thought to have roughly 1 day residence times. Courtesy of NASA-OMI.

As in previous years, rain and fog absorbed volcanic gases in 2011 and 2012, producing acid rain with consequent damage and destruction to vegetation, especially in downwind areas in the sector sweeping clockwise from SW to N from the vents (figure 35).

Figure 35. Annotated photo of Turrialba taken on 26 August 2012. The vegetation on the top and on the flanks of the edifice (zone 1) showed severe effects such as necrosis. The pasture vegetation (zone 2), used for milk production, turned yellowish (chlorosis). Interestingly, part of the native vegetation such as the tall trees (Quercus species) showed a stronger resistance to environmental acidification. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA; photo taken by G. Avard.

OVSICORI-UNA observed that hydrothermal activity modified the mineralogy and decreased the cohesion of the rocks in contact with the fluids, which alter and reduce the stability of the slopes of the volcanic edifice, triggering gravitational collapses, rockfalls, and strong erosion during the main rain events. These phenomena were especially observed after storms on 15 August and in November 2012, when coarse and fine material was transported from the walls to the bottom of Central Crater, deepening the W and NW gullies.

In an M.S. thesis, Rivera (2011) compared SO2 concentrations in Turriabla’s volcanic plume using a ground-based mini-DOAS and three new data analysis techniques using NASA’s OMI instrument. The three new techniques were the MODIS smoke estimation, OMI SO2 lifetime, and OMI SO2 transect techniques. All four techniques involve UV sensor analysis. She found that the OMI SO2 lifetime technique provided qualitative agreement between the ground-based and satellite-based data, while the OMI transect technique provided occasional quantitative agreements with the mini-DOAS measurements. The MODIS smoke estimation technique was inaccurate in estimating SO2 emission rates.

Reference. Rivera, A.M., 2011, Comparisons between OMI SO2 data and ground-based SO2 measurements at Turrialba volcano, M.S. Thesis, Michigan Technological University.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/).

Index of Weekly Reports


2013: May | July
2012: January | February
2011: January | June
2010: January | March | May | July | August
2009: June | September | December
2008: January | September | October
2007: May | August | September | December
2006: September | October

Weekly Reports


17 July-23 July 2013

OVSICORI-UNA reported significant seismic activity at Turrialba starting on 14 July. Low-frequency signals indicating fluid movement grew from an average of less than 200 events per day to over 600 events on 14 July, reaching a peak of activity with over 1,000 events on 15 July. Low-frequency tremor was detected during 18-19 July. Elevated seismicity remained at least through the report posting on 20 July. No morphological changes at the surface were observed.

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


29 May-4 June 2013

OVSICORI-UNA reported that on 29 May a pilot flying past Turrialba about 40 km away observed a blackish plume. Officials from the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba observed a gas plume that was slightly darker than usual between 0730 and 0745; seismic records showed no abnormal activity at those times or during the previous 48 hours. In addition, web camera images showed no noticeable ash emissions since 23 May. Gas plumes over 750 degrees Celsius were emitted from Boca 2010 (on the W wall) and Boca 2012 (on the E wall). The plume from Boca 2010 was whiter than the plume emitted from Boca 2012, mainly due to the difference in the ratio of magmatic gases and aerosols, and no ash.

On 4 June slight ashfall was reported in Pacayas and San Pablo in Oreamuno de Cartago (25 km SW). An observer in the National Park noted that between 1400 and 1500 gas emissions were slightly stronger and also grayish.

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


22 May-28 May 2013

OVSICORI-UNA reported that an eruption from Turrialba's West Crater on 21 May was preceded by seismic activity characterized by more than 150 volcanic earthquakes per day since 18 April.

Increased gas emissions were detected on 20 May, producing a sky-blue plume visible from nearby areas. Hybrid earthquakes also increased and became numerous at 0452 on 21 May. Continuous harmonic tremor followed and then increased at 0720. Eruptions from West Crater occurred at 0830 and after 1100 from two vents which opened in January 2010 (Boca 2010, on the W wall) and January 2012 (Boca 2012, on the E wall). The eruptions generated ash plumes that rose more than 500 m; ashfall was reported in the area of Picada (N), and in San José (35 km WSW) and Heredia (38 km W) of Ipís de Guadalupe, Goicoechea (28 km WSW), la Fazio, Zetillal (43 km W), San Isidro-San Pedro de Coronado, and San Luis de Santo Domingo (28 km W). At around 1200 ash emissions ceased and seismicity decreased.

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


15 February-21 February 2012

OVSICORI-UNA reported that while conducting field work at Turrialba during 2-3 February, scientists observed incandescence with temperatures between 600-700 degrees Celsius from the three main vents of the W crater. The vents are comprised of the 2010 vent (on the SW rim), the 2011 vent (on the N side at the bottom of the crater), and the 2012 vent (on the SE flank).

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


18 January-24 January 2012

OVSICORI-UNA reported that on 12 January a new vent opened on the SE flank of the W crater of Turrialba and ash emissions drifted NNE; ashfall was reported in Tres Ríos (27 km SW). During the evening of 18 January scientists observed gas emissions and ejection of tephra from the vent. They also observed reddish flames from combusting gas, estimated to be about 700 degrees Celsius. Residents reported a dark ash cloud and ashfall in La Central (4 km SW). An OVSICORI-UNA pilot observed an ash plume that rose to altitudes of 4.3-6.1 km (14,000-20,000 ft) a.s.l. on 18 January.

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


11 January-17 January 2012

OVSICORI-UNA reported that on 11 January local people around Turrialba heard several instances of rumbling. On 12 January an eruption occurred from a fissure on the SE flank of the main crater, in an area called La Quemada. An ash plume rose 500 m above the crater and drifted NNW, rising to an altitude of 4 km (13,000 ft) a.s.l. Later that day residents reported: a dark plume from La Quemada and a white vapor plume that rose from the fumarolic vent formed in the main crater on 5 January 2010.

According to a news article, the Turriabla National Park closed on 12 January and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) raised the Alert Level from Green to Yellow in the communities of La Central (34 km SW), Santa Cruz (7 km SE), and around the perimeter of the crater. Towns of Jiménez (21 km N), Oreamuno (45 km SW), Alvarado (38 km SW), and Cartago (25 km SW) remained at Alert Level Green.

Sources: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA); La Nacion


15 June-21 June 2011

OVSICORI-UNA reported that on 9 June scientists conducting fieldwork at Turrialba observed a new crater lake in the W crater, which opened in January 2010 and was the center of the most recent activity. Since February, rock landslides along with abundant mud and clay had accumulated in the bottom of the crater, blocking the vent. Meteoric water from rains starting in May had formed a light-green-colored lake that was 70 by 70 m and about 1 m deep. Minor bubbling in the SW and NE shores was noted, and steam and sulfur dioxide gas emissions rose from many fumarolic vents around the crater.

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


12 January-18 January 2011

According to news articles, people near Turrialba reported minor ashfall 2 km SE, rumbling noises, and a strong sulfur odor on 14 January. A few people were evacuated. OVSICORI-UNA noted that a blue and white gas plume rose from Turrialba the next day.

Sources: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA); La Nacion


11 August-17 August 2010

The Washington VAAC reported that on 15 August ash emissions from Turrialba were seen through an OVSICORI-UNA web camera, about 600 m E of the active crater. Satellite imagery showed an approximately 10-km-wide ash plume drifting 15 km W.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


21 July-27 July 2010

Based on web camera views of Turrialba, the Washington VAAC reported that on 24 July a plume of steam, gas, and ash drifted W. Over the next three hours the plume became more diffuse and steam-rich.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


12 May-18 May 2010

OVSICORI-UNA reported that during April a majority of the gases emitted from Turrialba originated from the vent that opened in January, producing plumes that rose 2 km. Gas was emitted from other areas including from fissures SW of the W crater and from multiple vents and fissures in the main crater. Gas plumes mainly drifted NW, W, and SW, coincident with areas that had the most vegetation impact from the plumes.

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


10 March-16 March 2010

OVSICORI-UNA reported that scientists visited Turrialba at night on 7 March. A gas plume, commonly seen drifting with prevailing winds, was seen that night rising 1.5 km above the crater and drifting NW. Noises from the crater were described as sounding like a jet engine and rumblings. A vent, formed in January, emitted gas at temperatures between 300 and 320 degrees Celsius. Small blocks 3-12 cm in diameter and different colors dominated the surface around the vent. Lithics ejected 30-50 m away from the vent measured 170 degrees Celsius. Incandescence seen at night originated from the vent which ejected reddish-colored tephra.

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


13 January-19 January 2010

Based on multiple METAR weather notices during the previous few days, the Washington VAAC reported on 16 January that gas plumes containing some ash rose from Turrialba. Ash was not seen in satellite imagery that day or the next.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


6 January-12 January 2010

OVSICORI-UNA reported that a phreatic eruption from Turrialba that began on 5 January was preceded by a day of increased seismicity and about 30 minutes of almost constant tremor. Two events detected about 15 minutes apart were followed by reports of ashfall as far away as 30 km. Field observations on 6 January revealed that two small vents had opened and joined together on the SE inner wall of the SW crater. Gas emission temperatures were more than 350 degrees Celsius. On 8 January seismic activity and gas emissions decreased. Observations the next day revealed that the combined vent was about 25 m wide and 80 m long. Around 60 people had evacuated from nearby farms.

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


30 December-5 January 2010

On 5 January, OVSICORI-UNA reported that an eruption from Turrialba produced ashfall in local areas, particularly in areas to the SW, including near Irazú volcano (11 km SW). According to news articles, about 20 people evacuated the area.

Sources: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA); Reuters


23 September-29 September 2009

On 25 September, scientists from OVSICORI-UNA reported results from three field trips to Turrialba to inspect new fissures and to assess the impact of gases on surrounding areas. Winds carrying toxic gases 10 km SW, to the S side of Irazú volcano, caused trees to exhibit mild burns to a greater degree than effects from the previous year. Vegetation within a 4-km-radius on the W, NW, and E flanks was also burned more severely that previously noted. Several elongated fissures in the rim S of the W crater were documented, as well as 1 km down slope NW of the crater. One E-W-trending crack that was first seen several months before had opened up as much as 12 cm, and emitted gas and vapor at 90 degrees Celsius. On the NW lower flanks, at least three radial fissures emitted high gas-and-vapor plumes. Some fissures near the summit were 5-10 cm wide. The last of the remaining settlers in the affected areas had moved away due to the intensification and impact of the gases.

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


10 June-16 June 2009

On 14 June, OVSICORI-UNA reported that fumarolic activity from Turrialba had been observed all around the upper flanks of the active W crater. During the previous two months, the fumarolic activity was accompanied by widening of radial cracks (1.5 cm on average), 1-2 km tall gas-and-vapor plumes, and one sustained discrete seismic swarm. Temperatures of fumarolic vents in the lower parts of the crater were between 120 and 160 degrees Celsius. The temperature of summit cracks was 94 degrees Celsius. Dairy pastures and forests had been burned as far away as 3.5 km NW and W.

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


1 October-7 October 2008

According to news articles, access to Turrialba Volcano National Park was closed on 30 September because the S and SE winds, typical for the time of year, were blowing toxic gases to the area of the park where visitors enter and view the volcano.

Source: La Nacion


24 September-30 September 2008

OVSICORI-UNA reported that fieldwork on 23 September revealed severely impacted vegetation on Turrialba's flanks and inner caldera in areas only mildly affected during the previous three years of sustained degassing. Vegetation in the S and SE summit areas was severely burned and infrastructure was impacted during August and September. Along the flank, S of the W crater, plants were burned down to the soil. Trees in lower-altitude areas were yellowed and seared due to extreme acidification. Pastures and areas along canyons and depressions were also affected. OVSICORI-UNA recommended that precautions should be taken when carrying out activities in the affected areas.

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


10 September-16 September 2008

OVSICORI-UNA reported that fumarolic activity and gas discharge in and to the W of Turrialba's central crater continued throughout August. Multiple fumaroles and sulfur deposition were noted in both the central and W craters. Fumarolic emissions on the S and SE flanks of the W crater continued to damage vegetation in that area.

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


9 January-15 January 2008

OVSICORI-UNA reported that fumarolic activity and gas discharge in and to the W of Turrialba's central crater continued throughout December. Some fumaroles were 278 degrees C and exhibited sulfur sublimate deposition. Fumarolic plumes were visible from many kilometers away. Gases were emitted from cracks on the S external wall and burned vegetation was noted. Vegetation on the internal walls to the SW and towards the E was withered.

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


5 December-11 December 2007

OVSICORI-UNA reported that members of the media and local communities observed a gas-and-steam plume from Turrialba that rose to an altitude greater than 5.3 km (17,400 ft) a.s.l. on 5 December. Fieldwork confirmed an unusual output of gas from several fumaroles along the S outer wall. Areas burned by acute acidification have extended in the last month. Pastures turned yellowish near the upper areas, and native and exotic tree species were impacted as well as birch tree patches along most drainages. Within the W crater, temperatures of fumaroles reached 280 degrees Celsius and native sulfur was present.

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


5 September-11 September 2007

OVSICORI-UNA reported that fumarolic activity and gas discharge in and to the W of Turrialba's central crater continued throughout August. New points of gas discharge, small landslides, and accelerated vegetation die-off were noted from various locations within and around the crater. Fumaroles were active in almost all directions in the central crater; many exhibited sulfur deposits and those in the S, SE, and SW reached a temperature of 91 degrees C. Fumaroles at the bottom of the W crater reached 176 degrees C on 16 August. Small sulfur flows from a few of the fumaroles descended about 2 m from the emission point. Steam plumes from fumaroles on the W wall rose to an altitude of 3.8 km (12,500 ft) a.s.l.

New fumaroles appeared on the SW flank and N and NW of the central crater. Some of the fumaroles corresponded to two widening cracks, to the SW and NW of the W crater. Vegetation affected from gas and steam discharge and sulfur deposits were noted. People living on the N flank and from areas to the NW and W reported constant gas emissions from cracks in an area of about 20 by 50 meters, NW of the W crater.

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


8 August-14 August 2007

OVSICORI reported that from mid-June through 8 August, several changes occurred at Turrialba, including opened fractures, spreading fumaroles, and an acute impact of gases on vegetation. Wide spreading of fumaroles on the upper edifice correlated with enhanced seismicity in mid-July. The principle fumarole in the bottom of the W crater reached 138 degrees C and produced a distinctive sound of a "high pressure valve" heard as far as 500 m away. The fumarole melted observable amounts of sulfur, a phenomenon not seen by the OVSICORI team in 25 years of continuous monitoring.

Multiple cracks associated with the expansion of the fumarolic areas around crater W were noted. A wide fumarolic field resided between two cracks about 100 m in length that propagated radially from the W and NW crater edges. Vegetation on the NW, W, and SW flanks appeared yellowish and dark brown, and patches of forest burned. Effects from the gases were observed in commercial farming areas.

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


2 May-8 May 2007

On 6 May, scientists from OVSICORI declared a Low Alert Level for Turrialba based on rapid changes during the previous three months, and intensified their fieldwork and data collection efforts. During aerial observation in February 2007, trees looked yellowish due to sustained gas emissions from the W crater. Vegetation growth was noted in previously burned areas on the W and SW flanks near the summit. On 21 April, a hot area (40° C) was noted 1.5 km SW of the summit, at the base of the volcanic edifice, that coincides with the WSW-ENE-trending Ariete fault. On 2 May, two larger hot and fuming spots were documented along the same fault, about 200 m SW of the first area. The vapor plumes were spotted from several kilometers away, above the forest canopy. Heat destroyed vegetation in an approximately 300 square m area along the S fault's plane.

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


18 October-24 October 2006

Fumarolic activity and gas discharge in and to the W of Turrialba's central crater continued throughout September. New points of gas discharge, small landslides, and accelerated vegetation die-off were noted from various locations within the crater.

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


6 September-12 September 2006

Fumarolic activity and gas discharge in and to the W of Turrialba's central crater continued throughout August. On 30 August, scientists visiting the area noted that localized vegetation in and around the summit area had been heavily impacted by gases. Areas not affected by increased fumarolic activity in June 2005 had been singed by noxious gases, including a tree belt on the NW outer flank. Below the tree belt, farmers reported an intensification of gas odors. The shapes of the gas-scarred areas reflected prevailing wind directions.

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


Index of Bulletin Reports


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

07/1981 (SEAN 06:07) Low-temperature gases collected

05/1982 (SEAN 07:05) Fumarole temperature measurements

12/1982 (SEAN 07:12) Activity level unchanged; no activity seen in the E crater

01/1983 (SEAN 08:01) Temperature and gas data

10/1983 (SEAN 08:10) Fumarolic activity

07/1985 (SEAN 10:07) Gas emission

08/1987 (SEAN 12:08) Fumarolic activity from two craters

04/1990 (BGVN 15:04) Continued summit fumarolic activity

09/1990 (BGVN 15:09) Low-temperature fumarolic activity

01/1991 (BGVN 16:01) Continued fumarolic activity; rockfalls

04/1991 (BGVN 16:04) New fractures found after major 22 April earthquake

01/1992 (BGVN 17:01) Continued fumarolic activity

02/1992 (BGVN 17:02) Continued fumarolic activity

03/1992 (BGVN 17:03) Continued low-frequency seismicity

04/1992 (BGVN 17:04) Occasional seismicity; gas emission

06/1992 (BGVN 17:06) Occasional seismicity

07/1992 (BGVN 17:07) Fewer seismic events

08/1992 (BGVN 17:08) Continued seismicity and fumarolic activity

09/1992 (BGVN 17:09) Occasional seismicity

12/1992 (BGVN 17:12) Fumarolic activity

01/1993 (BGVN 18:01) No deformation detected since 1982

04/1993 (BGVN 18:04) Fumarolic activity unchanged

05/1993 (BGVN 18:05) Seismic activity continues

09/1993 (BGVN 18:09) Regional earthquake causes visible cracks in crater area

03/1994 (BGVN 19:03) Weak fumarolic activity

03/1995 (BGVN 20:03) Weak fumarolic activity

01/1996 (BGVN 21:01) Weak fumarolic activity

06/1996 (BGVN 21:06) Microseismicity escalates from 0 (background) to 246 events/month

08/1996 (BGVN 21:08) Fumaroles at 90°C with pH values of ~4

12/1996 (BGVN 21:12) Number of microseismic events continues to increase

05/1997 (BGVN 22:05) Fumarolic temperatures near 90°C; two M 2 earthquakes in May

09/1997 (BGVN 22:09) Modest number of monthly earthquakes during June-August

03/1998 (BGVN 23:03) Fumarolic condensate data and monthly earthquakes to March 1998

06/1998 (BGVN 23:06) Fumarolic activity and small landslides continue; new fumaroles in April

07/1998 (BGVN 23:07) Not erupting; seismicity and fumarolic condensate chemistry

06/1999 (BGVN 24:06) A 4-fold increase in microseisms during December-April 1999

03/2000 (BGVN 25:03) Microseisms diminish in number during July-November 1999

11/2001 (BGVN 26:11) Seismic and fumarolic activity during January 2000-August 2001

08/2007 (BGVN 32:08) Increased degassing and opening of fissures

01/2008 (BGVN 33:01) Fumarolic increases during August 2007-January 2008

09/2009 (BGVN 34:09) Non-eruptive in August 2009, but degassing and with widening cracks

02/2010 (BGVN 35:02) Phreatic eruption of 5-6 January 2010 opens SW crater's upper wall

09/2011 (BGVN 36:09) Frequent degassing and occasional ashfall, March 2010-June 2011

06/2012 (BGVN 37:06) New fumarolic vent opens on the SW flank of the W crater on 12 January 2012

02/2013 (BGVN 38:02) Decreased seismicity and emissions in 2012




Bulletin Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.


07/1981 (SEAN 06:07) Low-temperature gases collected

Between 14 June and 11 July, personnel from PIRPSEV, CNRS, and the volcano observation section of IPG sampled gases from five Central American volcanoes. Low-temperature gases were collected at Turrialba and Irazú.

Information Contacts: H. Delorme, Univ. de Paris; J.L. Cheminée, IPG, Paris.
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05/1982 (SEAN 07:05) Fumarole temperature measurements

Fumarole temperatures averaged 86°C.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero H., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.
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12/1982 (SEAN 07:12) Activity level unchanged; no activity seen in the E crater

Activity remained the same as in previous years. The mean temperature was 86°C in the central crater and 89°C in the W crater. The E crater showed no activity.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero H., E. Malavassi R., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.
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01/1983 (SEAN 08:01) Temperature and gas data

Between 5 December and 20 December, 1982, a team from PIRPSEV (CNRS) and a volcanological team from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica sampled gases from Turrialba (table 1).

Table 1. Average values of gas compositions collected between 5 and 20 December 1982 compared to earlier data.

    Year  SO2%  CO2%  H2%  H2S%  CO%  CH4% He ppm

    1981  0.016 99.95 0.022  0.003 0.001  0   4.7
    1982  0.018 99.93 0.047  0.008 0    0   1.7

Information Contacts: J. Cheminée, IPG, Paris; M. Javoy and H. Delorme, Univ. de Paris.
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10/1983 (SEAN 08:10) Fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued in the central and W craters, where a mean temperature of 89°C was measured.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero H. and E. Fernández S., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.
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07/1985 (SEAN 10:07) Gas emission

Fumarolic activity continued, with temperatures averaging 90°C in the W crater and 85°C in the central crater.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero H. and E. Fernández S., Univ. Nacional, Heredia.
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08/1987 (SEAN 12:08) Fumarolic activity from two craters

Fumarolic activity continued, with temperatures of 91°C in the W crater and 85° in the central crater, similar to those measured in mid-1985 (10:07).

Information Contacts: J. Barquero, OVSICORI.
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04/1990 (BGVN 15:04) Continued summit fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued from the main crater, with temperatures of 90°C, and from the N wall of the central crater.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero, OVSICORI.
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09/1990 (BGVN 15:09) Low-temperature fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued with an average temperature of 90°C. Similar temperatures have been reported since 1982.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero, OVSICORI.
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01/1991 (BGVN 16:01) Continued fumarolic activity; rockfalls

Continued fumarolic activity in the central and SW craters was noted during fieldwork on 3 January. Fumarole temperatures ranged from 84° to 89°C. Minor morphologic changes had occurred, caused by rockslides down the inner walls of the SW crater, possibly related to an [M 5.7] earthquake near Puriscal (roughly [60 km] WSW of Turrialba) on 22 December.

Information Contacts: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; Mario Fernández and Wilfredo Rojas, Escuela Centroamericana de Geología, Univ de Costa Rica.
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04/1991 (BGVN 16:04) New fractures found after major 22 April earthquake

Shortly after the [M 7.6] earthquake on 22 April [85 km WSW], numerous small concentric fractures were found along the S and SW rims of the central crater and the W rim of the main crater. Small landslides continued on the S, SW, and N walls of the main crater, and fumarole temperatures remained at 89°C.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Barquero, OVSICORI.
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01/1992 (BGVN 17:01) Continued fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued in the central and SW craters. Fumaroles on the N and W walls of the SW crater were at 89°C in January; temperatures have been similar since 1982 (15:9, and 16:1 and 4). Small landslides continued to occur on the S wall of this crater.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Barquero, OVSICORI.
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02/1992 (BGVN 17:02) Continued fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued in February, with temperatures of 90°C. Similar temperatures have been measured since 1982. A monthly total of 37 low-frequency earthquakes, a maximum of 4/day (4 February), was recorded (at station VTU, 0.7 km from the crater).

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, V. Barboza, and R. Van der Laat, OVSICORI.
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03/1992 (BGVN 17:03) Continued low-frequency seismicity

Low-frequency seismicity continued at levels similar to February. An average of 1-2 events were recorded daily (at station VTU, 0.5 km E of the crater), with a maximum of four events on 6 March.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.
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04/1992 (BGVN 17:04) Occasional seismicity; gas emission

Low-temperature (89°C) fumarolic activity continued in and between the central and SW craters. Low- and medium-frequency earthquakes were recorded sporadically, totalling 32 in April.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI; G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE.
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06/1992 (BGVN 17:06) Occasional seismicity

A telemetering seismic station (VTU) 0.5 km E of the active crater recorded 17 events in June. The maximum daily number, 4, occurred on 13 June.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.
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07/1992 (BGVN 17:07) Fewer seismic events

The seismic station (VTU) 0.5 km E of the main crater recorded six low-frequency events in July, compared to 17 in June.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.
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08/1992 (BGVN 17:08) Continued seismicity and fumarolic activity

Fumarole temperatures in the central crater were <=93.6°C during fieldwork by ICE geologists on 13 August, similar to observations in previous years. No changes in surface activity were evident. The UNA seismograph (VTU) 0.5 km E of the main crater recorded 14 low-frequency events in August.

Information Contacts: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.
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09/1992 (BGVN 17:09) Occasional seismicity

Only 13 low-frequency events were recorded in September by UNA station VTU, 0.5 km E of the main crater; three occurred on 29 September.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI; G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE.
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12/1992 (BGVN 17:12) Fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued on the N, W, and SW walls of the main crater, at temperatures of about 90°C. One condensate sample had a pH of 4.8. Small landslides continued from the crater's S and W walls.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández and J. Barquero, OVSICORI.
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01/1993 (BGVN 18:01) No deformation detected since 1982

Tilt measurements made quarterly beginning in 1982 and twice a year since 1987 have revealed no changes above detection limits. Turrialba's last eruption, in 1864-66, produced ash and pyroclastic surges.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldía, T. Marino, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; M. Martini, Univ di Firenze, Italy.
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04/1993 (BGVN 18:04) Fumarolic activity unchanged

Fumarolic activity continued in the N, W, and SW walls of the main crater. Temperatures at the fumaroles, 90°C, have remained relatively unchanged since 1982 (17:02). A condensate sample had a pH of 4.5, similar to the pH of 4.8 recorded in December 1992 (17:12). Small landslides from the N, S, and W walls continued.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, V. Barboza, and Walter Jimenez, OVSICORI.
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05/1993 (BGVN 18:05) Seismic activity continues

A seismograph 0.5 km E of the active crater recorded 18 low-frequency events during May. Seismicity has remained at approximately the same level for the past year. There were 17 low-frequency events recorded in June 1992, 6 in July, 14 in August, and 13 in September (17:6-9). Tilt measurements reported in January revealed no changes since 1982 (18:01). Fumarolic activity and landslides from the main crater walls were continuing in April (18:04).

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, F. De Obaldía, T. Marino, R. Van Der Laat, V. Barboza, and R. Saenz, OVSICORI.
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09/1993 (BGVN 18:09) Regional earthquake causes visible cracks in crater area

Seismic station VTU, 0.5 km E of the main crater, recorded sporadic low-frequency microseismic activity in June-September. The number of events recorded ranged from 28 in June to 5 in July; specific values were not reported for August and September. An earthquake of M 5.0 took place on 10 July about 25.5 km to the SE. As a result of the earthquake, small cracks developed along the S margin of the central crater. Fumarolic activity continued from the N, NW, and SW walls of the main crater. On 13 July, fumarolic gases had a temperature of 90°C and a pH of 4.6. Temperature measurements in 1982 and 1985 show comparable values of 86°C and 85°C, respectively.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI.
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03/1994 (BGVN 19:03) Weak fumarolic activity

A visit on 25 March revealed almost no activity at the central part of the main crater, and very weak fumarolic activity at the SW part. Maximum temperature at the SW part of the crater reached 89°C -- nearly the same as measured in July 1993.

Information Contacts: G. Soto, Guillermo E. Alvarado, and Francisco (Chico) Arias, ICE.
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03/1995 (BGVN 20:03) Weak fumarolic activity

"Weak fumarolic activity was witnessed in the SW and Central craters during an overflight in February." Previously described tilt measurements in 1994 (18:01) disclosed no changes above detection limits.

Information Contacts: G. Soto, ICE.
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01/1996 (BGVN 21:01) Weak fumarolic activity

During January, observers witnessed weak fumarolic activity continuing along the NE, N, NW, and W walls. Fumarole temperatures measured 83-89 °C. Mass wasting had taken place mainly on the S and W walls.

Information Contacts: Rodolfo Van der Laat, Vilma Barboza, Erick Fernández, Jorge Barquero, Franklin de Obaldia, Tomás Marino, and Rodrigo Sáenz, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
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06/1996 (BGVN 21:06) Microseismicity escalates from 0 (background) to 246 events/month

After 23 May Turrialba's seismic station (VTU, located 0.5 km E of the active crater) registered a sudden increase in microseismicity. During the first four months of 1996 nearly no events were registered. In late May there were over 50 events; in June, 246 events. The dominant frequency of these events varied between 2.5 and 4.0 Hz.

Information Contacts: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
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08/1996 (BGVN 21:08) Fumaroles at 90°C with pH values of ~4

During July observers witnessed weak fumarolic activity continuing along the NE, N, W, and S sides of the crater. Small landslides were prevalent along the main crater's N, S, and W walls. Annual fumarole temperature and condensate pH measurements (figure 1) show a rough correspondence with variations in other observed activity. Seismicity recorded at station VTU (0.5 km E of the active crater) during July included 146 local earthquakes. In August, local earthquakes took place 299 times; some of their signals had dominant frequencies around 2.5-4.0 Hz.

Figure 1. Turrialba's annual fumarole temperatures and condensate pH values, 1992-1996. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, E. Duarte, V. Barboza, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernandez, M. Martinez, and R. Sáenz, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
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12/1996 (BGVN 21:12) Number of microseismic events continues to increase

Microseismic events, which were only detected locally, appeared 540 times during September, leading to the largest monthly total yet seen in 1996. The totals for October and November were 308 and 220 (the latter was extrapolated from 17 days of recording). Monthly microearthquake totals were essentially zero for the first four months of 1996 and generally grew steadily through September. The seismic station (VTU) lies 0.5 km SW of the active crater. The cumulative dry-tilt for the first 10 months of 1996 measured 10 µrad. The temperature and pH, however, remained relatively stable for the two available measurements during 1996 (BGVN 21:08).

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, E. Duarte, V. Barboza, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernandez, M. Martinez, and R. Sáenz, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
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05/1997 (BGVN 22:05) Fumarolic temperatures near 90°C; two M 2 earthquakes in May

Fumaroles emitted comparatively little gas but remained active in the main crater's NE, N, NW, and W parts, with temperatures in the range 89-90°C. In the N and S parts of the crater, small areas of mass-wasting covered some fumaroles. Seismicity at a station 500 m E of the active crater (station VTU) has been measured consistently since May 1996; reported local earthquake counts included 72 in December 1996, 146 in January 1997, 194 in February, 182 in March, and 137 in April. During May, seismic station VTU registered a total of 72 earthquakes. On 10-11 May, four of these were located at 5-6 km depths at 8-9 km distances NE of the crater, with magnitudes of 2.1-2.6. Their origin was possibly related to a local fault.

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, W. Jimenez, R. Saenz, E. Duarte, M. Martinez, E. Hernandez, and F. Vega, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
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09/1997 (BGVN 22:09) Modest number of monthly earthquakes during June-August

OVSICORI-UNA continues to monitor Turrialba's seismicity. Available monthly earthquake totals were as follows: June, 90 (all of small magnitude); July, 33; and August, 29.

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, W. Jimenez, R. Saenz, E. Duarte, M. Martinez, E. Hernandez, and F. Vega, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; G.J. Soto, Oficina de Sismologia y Vulcanologia del Arenal y Miravalles (OSIVAM), Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica.
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03/1998 (BGVN 23:03) Fumarolic condensate data and monthly earthquakes to March 1998

OVSICORI-UNA scientists have taken sporadic samples of the chemistry, pH, and temperature of Turrialba's fumaroles (figures 2 and 3). During January, fumaroles had low emissions but the temperature of one fumarole remained fixed at 90°C (figure 3). Small landslides down the N and S sides of the crater walls covered fumaroles on the crater floor during January; however, during this time new fumaroles also appeared on the crater floor as well.

Figure 2. Chlorine and sulfate in Turrialba fumarolic condensate at [nine] sampling dates during late 1996-early [1997]. For sampling and analytical methods, contact the authors. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure 3. The pH and temperature of Turrialba fumarolic condensate at four sampling dates during the interval late 1996 to early 1998. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

The local seismic station ("VTU," located 500 m S of the active crater) was out of service during September-December 1997. After that, the station registered microearthquakes as follows: January, 53; February, 83; and March 96. Two of the February earthquakes, one high- and one low-frequency, also registered on the more distant seismic station IRZ2, ~15 km from the active crater. Besides the 96 microearthquakes registered during March, several more low- and high-frequency earthquakes also took place.

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, V. Barboza, R. Van der Laat, R. Saenz, E. Duarte, E. Malavassi, T. Marino, M. Martinez, and E. Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Mauricio Mora Fernandez, Sección de Sismologia, Vulcanologia y Exploración Geofisica, Escuela Centroamericana de Geología, Universidad de Costa Rica, P.O. Box 35-2060, San José, Costa Rica (Email: mmmora@cariari.ucr.ac.cr).
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06/1998 (BGVN 23:06) Fumarolic activity and small landslides continue; new fumaroles in April

During April-June, fumaroles on the NE, N, W, and SW flanks continued to discharge modest emissions with temperatures around 90°C (see plot, figure 3 in BGVN 23:03). Small landslides continued along the N and S walls of the principal crater.

Scientists collect condensate from one low-temperature fumarole one to three times per year. The temperature of this fumarole has remained stable at 89-90°C; however, the sulfate and chloride concentrations have varied from low values of around 5 ppm to values over ten-fold larger. The most recent reading was taken on 22 April 1997. The sulfate concentration, about 70 ppm, was higher than those for many of the past few years (see plot, figure 2 in BGVN 23:03 but note the correction below).

Around the time the higher sulfate concentration was measured, new fumaroles opened in the central crater, and the local seismic system registered increased monthly counts of high-frequency earthquakes (seen during both April and May, table 2). On 2 May a M 1.6 earthquake occurred at 7 km depth centered 6.5 km SW of the principal crater.

Table 2. Earthquakes at Turrialba during the first half of 1998. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

  Month (1998)     High-frequency  Low-frequency  Microseisms

  January                0               0            53
  February               1               1            83
  March                  3               2            96
  April                 12               1            28
  May                   15               4            99
  June                   2               3            60

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, V. Barboza, E. Duarte, R. Saenz, E. Malavassi, M. Martinez, and Rodolfo Van der Laat, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.una.ac.cr/ovsi/).
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07/1998 (BGVN 23:07) Not erupting; seismicity and fumarolic condensate chemistry

During July, the main crater continued to weakly emit fumarolic gases with temperatures of 90°C. These escaped along the crater's NE, N, W, and S walls, and small landslides along the crater's N and S walls have partly covered the crater floor. Also, in the central crater, new points appeared on the N side where sulfur-rich gases gently escaped; gas temperatures measured 88°C.

Condensate chemistry and fumarole temperatures taken during 1992 through July 1998 appear on figure 4. Elevated SO4 was measured in condensate sampled on 22 April 1998 (figure 4). This coincided with the appearance of high-frequency earthquakes. Although the SO4 concentration declined in the next condensate sample (22 July), there were 68 high-frequency earthquakes from April through July (table 3).

Figure 4. Turrialba fumarolic temperature (top) and condensate chemistry (bottom) shown for the interval 14 January 1992 to 22 July 1998. The measured pH appears as a series of points; Cl and SO4 concentrations, as shaded and unshaded bars, respectively. Note that the horizontal scale ("Sample date") is non-linear and that the lower right-hand vertical axis (Cl and SO4 concentration) is broken into segments of dissimilar scale. Courtesy of OVSICORI-LAQAT (National University).

Table 3. Seismicity registered at Turrialba's seismic station VTU, January-June 1998. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

  Month     High-frequency  Low-frequency  Microseisms

  January         0              0              53
  February        1              1              83
  March           3              2              96
  April          15              1              28
  May            15              4              99
  June            2              3              60
  July           36              4              61

During 1998 the seismic system (station VTU, 0.5 km NE of the active crater) registered fewer than either 100 microseisms a month or five low-frequency earthquakes a month (table 3). The growth in the number of high-frequency earthquakes was thought to be related to the above-mentioned appearance of the new fumaroles in the central crater. Microseisms were generally weak, with amplitudes below 10 mm.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, M. Martinez, E. Duarte, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernández, and T. Marino, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.
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06/1999 (BGVN 24:06) A 4-fold increase in microseisms during December-April 1999

During the 17 months ending in May 1999, microseisms varied from ~30 to ~180 a month (figure 5). A 4-fold progressive increase began after December 1998.

Figure 5. A histogram showing Turrialba's monthly microseisms during January 1998- April 1998. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

In March 1999, the main crater's fumaroles were visible on the NE, N, NW, E and SW walls. Escaping gases appeared constant and had a temperature of 89°C. During March, the seismographic station VTU, located 0.5 km NE of the active crater registered a total of 252 earthquakes. Of those 81 had high frequency, with S-P duration of less than 1.5 seconds and frequencies greater than 3.0 Hz. The 166 microseisms registered had amplitudes under 10 mm, short durations, and frequencies between 2.1 and 3.0 Hz. An earthquake registered at 1846 on 7 March, with a Richter magnitude of 2.3, a depth of 7 km, and an epicenter 4 km NE of the main crater.

During April, the station VTU registered 287 earthquakes. Of those, 105 were of high frequency (with S-P of less than 1.5 seconds and frequencies above 3.0 Hz), and 4 were of low frequency. The 178 microseisms registered were of short duration; their dominant frequencies were between 2.1 and 3.0 Hz.

During May, a total of 309 events were recorded, of which 120 were type AB with S-P less than 1.5 seconds and frequencies less than 3.0 Hz. There were 3 low-frequency events. The 186 microseisms registered had amplitudes under 10 mm.

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, V. Barboza, E. Duarte, R. Saenz, E. Malavassi, M. Martinez, and R. Van der Laat, T. Marino, and E. Hernandez; Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.una.ac.cr/ovsi/); Wendy Perez Fernandez, Seccion de Seismologia, Vulcanologia y Exploracion Geofisica, Escuela Centroamericana de Geologia, Universidad de Costa Rica, POB 35-2060, San Jose, Costa Rica (Email: wendyp@cariari.ucr.ac.cr).
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03/2000 (BGVN 25:03) Microseisms diminish in number during July-November 1999

Mass wasting and elevated seismicity continued at Turrialba during July-November 1999 (table 4). The seismicity has appeared anomalously high since it increased suddenly during May 1996, escalating to 540 such events in September 1996. Microseisms have dropped since then, although they still remained at over 100 per month during September and October 1999. Between April and August 1999 scientists made surveys of the distance to a reflector 500 m from the active crater on the SW flank; these failed to show significant changes in length. After 18 September three new seismic receivers helped detect and locate three earthquakes, M 1.7-2.8, at depths of 3-11 km centered 2.5-10 km E, SE, and SW of the volcano.

Table 4. Monthly seismicity at Turrialba as recorded at station VTU, ~ 0.5 km E of the active crater. Microseisms were defined as earthquakes registered on the local seismic system with amplitudes under 15 mm. NR indicates information not reported. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

    Month       Total    Microseisms  Type-AB    Tremor       Max
             earthquakes             earthquakes duration  fumarolic
                                                              temp.

    Jul 1999     89          54          35         NR        NR
    Aug 1999    155          99          55         NR        90°C
    Sep 1999    213         134          76         NR        91°C
    Oct 1999    209         120          39       9 minutes   90°C
    Nov 1999    144          39          42      35 minutes   90°C

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, E. Duarte, V. Barboza, R. Sáenz, E. Malavassi, R. Van der Laat, T. Marino, J. Barquero, and E. Hernández, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.una.ac.cr/ovsi/).
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11/2001 (BGVN 26:11) Seismic and fumarolic activity during January 2000-August 2001

During January 2000 to at least August 2001, seismic and fumarolic activity continued at Turrialba (table 5). On 12 March 2000 an M 3.2 earthquake was registered at a depth of 7 km, 6.5 km E of the active crater. The EDM lines (radial lines of distances) as well as the dry clinometers did not show significant changes during 2000.

Table 5. Summary of earthquakes and fumarolic temperatures at Turrialba during January 2000 to August 2001, registered by a seismograph at station VTU, located ~0.5 km SE of the active crater. Microearthquakes were defined as earthquakes registered on the local seismic system with amplitudes under 15 mm. Missing months indicate that no data was available for that month. NR indicates information not reported. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

    Month      AB   LF   Micro-       Total   Maximum fumarolic
                         earthquakes          temperature (°C)
      Comment

    Jan 2000   29    2      33          64          NR
      Seismicity registered only 13 days.
    Feb 2000   91   --      75         166          NR
      Seismicity registered only 16 days.
    Mar 2000   44   --      65         113          91
    Apr 2000   NR   NR      NR          NR          90
    May 2000  286    5     330         616          NR
    Jul 2000   50   --     104         167          90
    Aug 2000   76   --     148         229          89
    Sep 2000  243   --     244         493          89
    Oct 2000   NR   NR      NR          NR          93
    Mar 2001  399  948     718        2075          NR
    May 2001  128   --     334         464          92
      An average of 15 earthquakes per day.
    Jun 2001   3    --     185         194          92
      Six VT earthquakes.
    Jul 2001   24   --     310         334          91
    Aug 2001   14   --     261         275          90

Fumarolic activity was persistent in the N, NW, NE, and E walls of the main crater. Fumarolic activity in the S and SW walls diminished by July 2000 and began to reappear during October 2000. Activity in the N wall during May 2001 was more vigorous than previously. Small landslides persisted in the walls of the main crater, covering some fumaroles at the bottom and revealing other new ones.

During March 2001 sulfur precipitation and gaseous emanations in the internal walls occurred throughout most of the central craters. Gaseous activity also persisted in the W crater walls. During June 2001, a small patch of vegetation at the center of the main crater showed partial burns due to the gas escaping in the NE part of the main crater.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.una.ac.cr/ovsi/).
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08/2007 (BGVN 32:08) Increased degassing and opening of fissures

Non-eruptive fumarolic activity was reported at Turrialba through August 2001 (BGVN 26:11). This report covers the time interval January 2002 to mid-2007. Central and W craters were both scenes of fumarolic activity, and reports mentioned generally modest seismicity.

No eruption occurred, although fumarolic and seismic activity remained elevated and some other noteworthy changes also took place. Figure 6 presents a summary of seismicity measured during 1990-2006. Seismicity increased beginning in 1996, reached a peak in 2001 and although it remained elevated, it decreased somewhat from the peak through 2006. In general seismic activity was modest and of short duration with numerous micro-earthquakes of amplitude smaller than 15 mm, and frequencies between 2.1 and 3.0 Hertz (Hz).

Figure 6. The numbers of earthquakes recorded at Turrialba during 1990 through 2006. Courtesy of Vilma Barboza (OVSICORI-UNA ).

Fumarolic activity of 2002-2006. A summary of fumarolic activity at the central crater during the period 2002 through 2006 indicated the S, SW, NW, and N walls were collecting sulfur as a product of gas emissions. Monthly vapor temperatures at the central crater ranged from 87 to 91°C. In March 2006, a pair of cracks continued to be visible in the central crater's S, SE, and SW walls. By August 2006, a pair of cracks in the central crater were particularly significant. Visiting scientists noted that during August 2006, localized vegetation in and around the summit area had been heavily impacted by gases. Areas not affected by increased fumarolic activity in June 2005 had been burned, including a tree belt on the NW outer flank. Below the tree belt, farmers reported an intensification of gas odors. The shapes of the burned areas reflected prevailing wind directions.

From 2002 through 2006, Turrialba's W crater displayed fumarolic activity in the N, NE, W, NW, and SW sides with low levels of emission and gas temperatures remaining consistent from 88 to 93°C . New points of sulfur deposition were noted throughout the period.

An interval of increased seismicity (a pulse) recorded by station VTU located 0.5 km NE of the active crater occurred during 9 July to 14 September 2003. Through December 2003, the emissions continued to increase in the main crater, gradually generating gas columns that were carried W. Observers noted that the vegetation of the SW wall and W of the central crater continued to deteriorate, as well as effects such as heating of the ground, salt deposition at the surface, and escaping gases.

In June 2005, a significant increase in fumarolic gas emission was noted by OVISCORI-UNA and they also indicated changes in gases venting at the W crater. Chemical analysis indicated carbon dioxide gas had decreased and sulfur dioxide had increased, with the result that bushy species and minor plants that managed to survive in the open summit area (inner walls) became completely burned (figure 7). In the external walls to the N, NW, and W, the gases killed the vegetation.

Figure 7. Increased degassing and resultant burned vegetation around Turrialba's W crater, as illustrated in this photograph from June 2005. Courtesy Eliécer Duarte, OVISCORI-UNA.

A 2006 report noted that bushy species and minor plants that had previously managed to survive in the open summit area (inner walls) had by August 2006 appeared completely burned (figure 8). The tree belt on the NW outer flanks (reported in 2005 as partially burned) contained a significant percentage of dead birch (Alnus acuminata). The belt, ~ 200 x 900 m in area, included species taller than 25 m, and was visible from the lower inhabited farms where residents reported increasingly potent gas odors. The shape and location of the belt correlated with the seasonal prevailing wind directions.

Figure 8. Aerial photograph depicting vegetation impacts at Turrialba and to its W, emphasizing zones affected by increased gas emissions from June 2005 through August 2006. Spanish labels translate as follows: 1) Coyote habitat, 2) Inhabited farms, 3) Area of partial deforestation, 4) Area of totally killed vegetation, 5) W crater, and 6) Central crater. Courtesy E. Duarte, OVISCORI-UNA.

Behavior during January-August 2007. At the end of February 2007, a flight over Turrialba's summit revealed significant growth in the area of burned vegetation. On that day, dwarf and tall trees looked yellowish due to sustained degassing from the W crater.

On 21 April, observers measured the temperatures of fumaroles emitting steam at ~ 40°C as far as 1.5 km SW of the summit, a spot coinciding with the well known, ENE-trending Ariete fault. Two larger fumaroles were reported on 2 May located 200 m SW from the first one along the same fault. This site released significant vapor plumes (~ 90°C) that rose above the thick forest.

During June and July 2007, enhanced fumarolic activity was accompanied by new fractures at the summit. The fumaroles spread over a larger area and their temperatures increased to ~ 90°C. Micro-seismicity also grew.

The main fumarole at the bottom of W crater reached 138°C producing a distinctive sound similar to a high pressure valve; this sound could be heard up to ~ 500 m away. These fumaroles had melted sulfur, a phenomenon previously not seen in OVISCORI's more than 25 years continuous monitoring. Sulfur condensate colored most of the inner crater walls with a fine yellowish film.

Besides the multiple cracks associated with the expansion of the fumarolic areas around the W crater, two new ones appeared. Such cracks (longer than 100 m) oriented radially from the volcano's W and NW borders suggested a significant degree of summit instability. A wide fumarolic field between these two fractures along with the large number of vapor and gas spots on the outer walls also reflected considerable permeability in that area (figure 9).

Figure 9. The three fumarolic fields and their associated cracks on Turrialba's NW outer wall, as seen 10 August 2007. Fumaroles are indicated by patten of white lines; cracks ("grietas") indicated by rows of dots. From left to right, the three fields are associated with cracks aligned approximately NW-SE, W-E, and S-N. The latter site contains two N-trending cracks adjacent new fumaroles. Courtesy OVISCORI-UNA.

The effect of gases on the surrounding vegetation (in a 4-km radius) expanded to areas previously protected from damage by prevailing winds (figures 10-11). Acute chemical burning of important patches of natural forest had occurred. Vegetation to the NW, W, and SW appeared yellowish to dark brown (figure 10). By mid-2007 some of the effects had reached potato fields and dairy pastures.

Figure 10. Acute effects of gases on vegetation are easily visible on Turrialba's steep NW outer wall (25 July 2007). Burns on leaf tissue diminish with distance from the source. Zones of dead climbing vines are visible at closest range in the photo's lower right corner. Courtesy OVISCORI-UNA.
Figure 11. Despite the rainy season at Turrialba, the impact of volcanic gases on both exotic and native vegetation increased during June and July 2007. This 27 July 2007 photo identifies three zones of chemical burning, efectos agudo (acute effects), efectos intermedios (intermediate effects), and efectos menores (minor effects). Courtesy E. Duarte, OVISCORI-UNA.

On 5 September 2007, OVSICORI-UNA visited Turrialba's outer NW wall to document the gas damage to vegetation in the area from the crater to the seismic station PICA, a distance of 2.5 km. The observers found three bands of severe damage: across an upslope area, a forested zone, and dairy-farm fields.

The upslope band contained a smaller, dense zone of sparse, dwarfed, woody bushes abutting the forest in a fine loose soil in steep terrain. Plants here were very dry and showed a surface layer of white-yellowish material. This effect was most intense within 100 m of the crater, but still partly visible up to 400 m away in patches. A second section with very dense growth was dead.

The mid-slope band through primary forest contained several tree species, including Jaúl and oak. Although all the trees in portions of this band had apparently died, they did so episodically with varying species seemingly more or less resistant to volcanic gases. The upper parts of the trees showed the greatest visible changes. Among the other plant species killed was a climbing vine that where killed turned an intense coffee color.

The topographically lowest band, consisting of pastures with occasional trees, had burned completely over a zone 400 m from the lower line of the forest, leaving grasses a straw-yellow color, and sufficiently brittle to be easily broken by contact. Gasses had also strongly corroded relatively new barbed wire in the ESE sector, and in lower parts of this zone they reacted with fixtures on buildings and damaged gardens.

The August 2007 OVSICORI-UNA report described ongoing fumarolic activity at Turrialba. At the Central and W craters, the respective maximum temperatures were 91°C and 176°C (up from 138°C during late July). Deposition at the fumaroles included sulfur and sulfurous sublimates, in some cases draping walls and forming minor flows up to 2 m from the point of emission. Small landslides were apparent on many sides of the W crater's walls, and these too were places where sulfur or sulfurous sublimates were seen. One of two major fracture directions trended SW; it was visible as a crack 100 m in length and underwent a maximum opening of 1 to 3 cm between 28 July and 16 August.

Information Contacts: Eliécer Duarte, Erick Fernández, and Vilma Barboza, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apdo. 2346-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Francois Robichaud, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 boul. de l'Université, Sherbrooke, Québec J1K 2R1, Canada.
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01/2008 (BGVN 33:01) Fumarolic increases during August 2007-January 2008

Enhanced fumarolic activity accompanied by new fractures at the summit was noted during June-September 2007 (BGVN 32:08). The earlier report noted that the fumaroles had spread over a larger area and contained molten sulfur, a condensate previously not seen here in more than 25 years of continuous monitoring by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA). By mid-August 2007, acute chemical burning of important patches of natural forest had occurred. This report covers the period from October 2007 through January 2008.

During October, new sites of gas discharge, small landslides, and accelerated vegetation die-off were noted from various locations within and around the crater. Fumaroles were active and widespread across the central crater. Many exhibited sulfur deposits and those in the S, SE, and SW reached a temperature of 91°C.

Areas burned by acute acidification extended during November. Fieldwork conducted by OVSICORI-UNA confirmed an unusual output of gas from several fumaroles along the S outer wall of the volcano. Pastures turned yellowish near the upper areas, and native and exotic tree species were impacted as well as birch tree patches along most drainage basins.

During December, within the W crater, fumarole temperatures reached 280°C and significant sulfur deposits were noted. Local residents confirmed an unusual output of gas from several fumaroles along the S outer wall of the volcano. Areas burned by acute acidification extended during the month. On 5 December, members of the media and local communities observed a gas-and-steam plume from Turrialba that rose to an altitude greater than 5.3 km (figure 12).

Figure 12. Column from Turrialba observed and photographed from Heredia City, located 40 km W of the volcano taken at 0540 on 5 December 2007. Courtesy OVSICORI-UNA.

On a team visit between 30 and 31 January 2008, OVSICORI staff documented the progression of fumarolic activity in the W crater, the external W crater walls, and distant areas towards the W, NW, and SW. Some of the fumaroles correspond with two fractures. One to the SW of the W crater, trending SW, was 100 m in length and 2 to 3 cm wide, and deposited sulfur. The second crack to the NW of the W crater, also trending SW , had temperatures of 72°C and discharged steam and gas affecting the adjacent vegetation. To the NW of the W crater, the team studied an area of about 20 x 50 m with constant gas emission and a temperature of 88°C.

Information Contacts: Eliécer Duarte, Erick Fernández, and Vilma Barboza, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apdo. 2346-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Tellez and Francois Robichaud, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 boul. de l'Université, Sherbrooke, Québec J1K 2R1, Canada.
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09/2009 (BGVN 34:09) Non-eruptive in August 2009, but degassing and with widening cracks

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) continued monitoring the Turrialba non-eruptive interval of February 2008 through August 2009. As during the previous four months (BGVN 33:01), Turrialba continued to emit sulfurous gas from its central and W craters, and elsewhere, including some new cracks.

Activity during February-December 2008. During February 2008, the area around Turrialba affected by acid rain increased due to degassing. The degassing vents on the N, NW, W, and SW walls were rich in sublimated native sulfur. Gas-emission temperatures ranged from 72 to 132°C. Owing to prevailing winds, the vegetation most affected was on the N, NW, and SW flanks. The effects ranged from discoloration to death of various plant species. Residents in the area reported occasional nausea and irritation of the skin and eyes. On 22 February, local observers reported a gas plume up to ~ 2 km in height.

On the SE and SW walls of the central crater two cracks 2-3 cm wide and 100 m long continued to emit gases at ~ 90°C and produced sulfur deposits (figure 13). In stable atmospheric conditions gas columns often rose ~ 500 m above the crater. Rockslides sometimes covered emitting fumaroles, and new sulfur deposits tended to develop in these areas.

Figure 13. Elongated cracks (red lines on colored version) mapped at Turrialba during in August 2009. From first being noticed in mid-2009 to being measured in August 2009, some cracks opened by as much as 12 cm. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

During 7-8 March 2008, gas sampling at the summit fumaroles determined the maximum temperature at the largest W wall vent was 278°C. Degassing vents were also noted at spots in the middle of the forest. In some cases emissions had killed all local vegetation.

On 7-8 March 2008, Erick Fernandez and Eliécer Duarte of OVSICORI, and the National University (UNA) took gas samples. The analysis, done by Jorge Andrés Diaz and Sergio Achí of the University of Costa Rica, revealed the presence of He at 80,000 ppm (parts per million), whereas the typical He concentration in the neighborhood of a volcano is 25 ppm.

OVSICORI-UNA reported continued degassing during August and September 2008. Multiple fumaroles and areas of sulfur deposition were noted in both the central and W craters. Fumarolic emissions on the S and SE flanks of the W crater continued to damage vegetation in that area.

On 23 September 2008, OVSICORI fieldwork confirmed a severe impact of acid-rain on areas that had been only mildly affected during the preceding 3 years of degassing. At least three sectors showed new impacts on vegetation and infrastructure, from the summit downhill ~ 3 km along the S and SE flanks. The upper sector, which includes the entire caldera and lower sectors to the E, S, and SE near the summit, had been severely burned during August and September. This area goes from the summit down to an elevation of ~ 2,900 m. By 23 September, weeds, dwarf vegetation, and trees had been completely burned; however in these areas some resistant species maintained some green and appeared seemingly viable. Along the external walls to the S of the W crater, plants had been burned down to the soil. Due to the removal of that natural coverage, erosion had cut extended radial gullies.

Between the elevations of 2,900 and 2,600 m, significant forest patches have been partially seared by extreme acidification, particularly the dense birch forests. Below 2,600 m elevation mild burns to the tree canopy and pasture areas were evident. The evidence of chemical burns due to the heavy gases are amplified along canyons and depressions. These conditions caused residents to voluntarily leave their farms in 2007.

Monitored SO2 emissions during the early part of 2008 had been ~ 750 metric tons per day (t/d). At the end of April 2008, an increase to ~ 1,000 t/d was noted, which then increased to ~ 2,000 t/d well into July. During the end of July the emissions declined to ~ 1,100 t/d. The increase in SO2 flux corresponded to increases in vegetation damage.

Activity during January-June 2009. In May 2009 OVSICORI reported ongoing fumarolic degassing during the preceding months from the central crater, from the N, NW, W, SW and S walls, from new vents on the S and SW walls, and other locations. Some locations continued to form sublimated sulfur deposits. The two cracks in the SE and SW walls had temperatures of ~ 87°C. The emissions in the W wall registered ~ 91°C and displayed sulfur deposits. In meteorologically quiet conditions, gas plumes were noted up to 500-600 m above the crater floor. All of these areas had experienced small landslides that occasionally covered some vents.

SO2 flux was variable during early 2009 (figure 14). The flux data were collected with a roughly consistent sun angle, between 0900 and 1100 in the morning on the SW flank. In the graph the SO2 flux varies between ~ 0 and ~ 2,000 t/d, the maximum flux occurred on 23 April.

Figure 14. SO2 fluxes measured at Turrialba during April 2009 (with y-axis showing SO2 flux in metric tons per day and x-axis dates in the format, month/day/year). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

On 14 June 2009, OVSICORI-UNA reported that fumarolic activity from Turrialba had been observed all around the upper flanks of the active W crater. During the previous two months, the fumarolic activity was also accompanied by widening radial cracks (1.5 cm on average), 1-2 km tall gas-and-vapor plumes, and one sustained seismic swarm. Temperatures of fumarolic vents in the lower parts of the crater were between 120 and 160°C. The temperature of summit cracks was 94°C. By mid-June, dairy pastures and forests had been chemically burned as far away as 3.5 km NW and W. During the last week of August 2009, the W and NW lower flanks, sectors previously reported with moderate effects, showed acute burns, and yellow pastures within 3 to 4 km radius (figures 15, 16, and 17).

Figure 15. Vegetation damage as of late August 2009 at Turrialba plotted on a shaded relief map by F. Robichaud. E. Duarte and others found that damage was generally within several kilometers of the volcano and in broader areas on the W flanks. The large dotted line indicates the boundary of detectible damage. Severe damage covered an irregular area, a strip both directly W of the active crater and a lobe to its SW as well. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure 16. Newly emerging fumaroles on Turrialba's upper NW flank and burns on vegetation, August 2009. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure 17. A view from Turrialba's seismic station PICA on the NW flank, showing active degassing from a variety of locations in August 2009. Left mid-ground shows plumes from the lowest fumaroles yet developed on this flank. Green grass is in the foreground, but most of the other foliage is brown to orange. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Near the Toro Amarillo river (4 km E of the crater) chemical burning surrounds stands of trees. Such whitening effect had been previously reported at the end of 2007 for areas closer to the active crater, 1.5 km W (figure 18).

Figure 18. An example of a zone with intense burns on grass at the foot of injured trees, damage attributed to acidic gases from Turrialba. The spot is near the Toro Amarillo river in late August 2009. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Several elongated cracks were mapped just south of the W crater as well as 1 km downslope NW. One main crack, noticed during mid-2009 due to sulfur depositions on the surface, was opened by August in places as much as 12 cm. In late August 2009 it emitted gasses at 90°C. The crack trends E-W, in places intersecting a trail used to reach the summit's SW and W sides.

The last two years have caused residents to leave owing to the burned and dead pastures. Some commented on their apprehension related to the emergence of the lower fumaroles. Along the S side of the Irazú summit located 10 km SW of Turrialba's summit, mild burns have been observed on patches of birch, eucalyptus and pine. Lesser impact was reported last year in that same area.

False eruption report. The Washington VAAC received surface observations from an airport near the volcano erroneously indicating an eruption on the morning of 23 September 2009.

The VAAC decided to initially describe the activity as an eruption because it was the first time the airport had reported emissions, the volcano was known to have been degassing for some time, and early morning satellite imagery showed cloud cover, preventing good analysis. In addition, attempts to reach local volcanologists by telephone using contact numbers from the ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] handbook and the OVSICORI webpage were not successful. OVSICORI-UNA personnel reported a few hours later that the volcano had not erupted. As a result of the incident, the VAAC has obtained current contact numbers, including personal cell phones, for future use.

Information Contacts: Eliécer Duarte, Erick Fernández, Vilma Barboza, S. Miranda, L. Ortiz, G. Chavez, Jorge Brenes, Thomás Marino, Javier Pacheco, Juan Segura, andRodolfo van der Laat, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apdo. 2346-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/informacion_general/prensa.htm or http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/vulcanologia/Volcan_Turrialba.htm); Francois Robichaud, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 boul. de l'Université, Sherbrooke, Québec J1K 2R1, Canada; Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/).
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02/2010 (BGVN 35:02) Phreatic eruption of 5-6 January 2010 opens SW crater's upper wall

Since 2002, elongate cracks have opened at Turrialba, and new points began degassing, emitting high levels of sulfurous gas and helium, but no eruptions had occurred (BGVN 32:08, 33:01, and 34:09). Ongoing fumarolic activity through August 2009 caused significant damage to local vegetation (BGVN 34:09). This report continues through February 2010. Phreatic eruptions on 5 and 6 January 2010 resulted in ashfall ten's of kilometers from the active W crater. New vents formed on the crater wall, ultimately merging into an elongate fissure.

On 25 September 2009, scientists from the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) reported results from three trips to inspect new fissures and to assess the impact of gases. Gases blown 10 km SW mildly burned trees to a greater degree than the previous year. Vegetation within a 4-km radius on the W, NW, and E flanks was also burned more severely that previously noted. Several elongated fissures were documented on the rim S of the W crater, as well as 1 km downslope to the NW. One E-W-trending crack that was first seen several months before had opened as much as 12 cm, and emitted gas and vapor at 90°C. On the lower NW flanks, at least three radial fissures emitted high gas-and-steam plumes. Some fissures near the summit were 5-10 cm wide. The last of the remaining residents in the affected areas had moved away due to the intensification and impact of the gases.

Report from the Red Sismológica Nacional, January 2010. Gerardo J. Soto sent a report by the Red Sismológica Nacional (National Seismological Network; RSN: UCR-ICE) summarizing events during early January. The seismic signals recorded during 2009 consisted mostly of B-type earthquakes, tremor, and some A-type earthquakes. The seismic records through the afternoon of 3 January remained typical, but after 1000 on 4 January signals underwent a sudden change. Tremor became common and was of long duration (~ 4 events/hour with typical durations of 10-20 minutes), but signals did not suggesting internal fracturing. Abundant low-frequency signals (B-type earthquakes) corresponded with substantial gas plumes. After 1400 on 5 January tremor occurred almost constantly. Two strong earthquakes occurred, at 1429 and 1445.

These two earthquakes coincided with the first reports of ash, which fell mainly over the farms adjacent to La Central and La Silvia, Capellades town. Finer ash was reported at Tierra Blanca, Llano Grande and Tres Ríos, ~ 25 km SW, and in eastern San José, ~ 30 km away. The ash was expelled for over 22 hours, in a continuing sequence of pulses.

The RSN report further stated that field and aerial trips inspected the two small pits that opened on the upper SE wall of the SW crater. These pits later joined and formed a fracture-like structure (aligned N40°E, the same trend as the tectonic depression and faults on the summit). The ash emitted from the pits was devoid of new (juvenile) magma material and most clasts were hydrothermally altered. Fumaroles expelled gas and ash at high pressure with a jet-type noise heard several kilometers away. Observers approaching the pits on the 6th watched pulsating emissions coming from both new vents on the upper wall.

Report from OVSICORI-UNA, January-February 2010. An OVSICORI-UNA report written on 6 January also noted that the phreatic eruption began at 1400 on 5 January, followed by reports of ashfall as far away as 30 km, particularly in areas to the SW. Residents of the village La Central located ~ 4 km SW of the crater heard nothing but received fine ash (figure 19) accompanied by rain. In contrast, in the village of La Silvia located roughly the same distance W of the crater, people heard noises attributed to eruptions. Erupted material was generally fine-grained (sub-millimeter in diameter) and dark.

Figure 19. Sketch map of Turrialba emphasizing the fresh deposits mapped on 6 January 2010 (shaded area). The town of La Central (~ 4 km from the W crater) lies on the approximate dispersal axis and received 1-1.5 mm of ash fall. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Mapping by OVSICORI-UNA on 6 January traced the deposit WSW (figure 21); the deposit had a thickness of 1-1.5 mm between La Central and La Silvia. At 8 km from the vent on the road near Oreamuno the deposit was ~ 0.5 mm thick. Some fine ashfall was seen 15 km from the vent (at Llanos Grande) and reached ~ 30 km away to neighborhoods of SE San Jose. The delicacy of the deposit and the associated rain meant that some of the best samples came from roof tops and plant leaves. On corrugated roofs the uppermost portions of the ridges still preserved considerable ash. Some of the near-source ejecta were on the order of a meter in diameter.

Field observations on 6 January revealed that two small vents had opened and joined together on the SE inner wall of the SW crater. Gas emission temperatures were more than 350°C. On 8 January seismic activity and gas emissions decreased. Observations on 9 January revealed that the combined vent was about 20-25 m wide and 65-80 m long (figures 20 and 21).

Figure 20. An aerial view on 9 January 2010 of Turrialba's W crater and one or more new cavities developed in the upslope area (see enlarged view in next figure). Courtesy OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure 21. Close-up of the area affected by Turrialba's phreatic eruption as seen from the air on 9 January 2010. The vent on the far wall began as two small separate ones. The cover of fresh fine-grained deposits appears as a smooth area around the new vent. Some of the larger near source ejecta reached on the order of a meter or so across. Courtesy OVSICORI-UNA.

A plume on 15 February that reached 1.5-2 km in height was photographed by OVSICORI-UNA (figure 22). The noise from the emission was heard 4 km to the SW.

Figure 22. Photograph of a weak, inclined steam-and-gas plume from Turrialba taken on 15 February 2010. Courtesy OVSICORI-UNA.

Aviation notices, January 2010. Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports started on 7 January, and began with pilot reports of ash to the E of the summit, but analysts lacked clear evidence of ash based on satellite imagery. METAR reports (routine, in most cases hourly, aviation weather reports from places such as airports) continued to mention the plume on the 7th, but weather clouds prevented detection of possible ash clouds. Later on the 7th, analysts began to rely on a wider array of data, and although still unable to see the plume in imagery, they began to put out numerous regular reports through the 9th. On 16 January the VAAC reported that the "Observatory has confirmed that there are no ash emissions at this time. Gas and steam emissions are possible."

Information Contacts: E. Duarte, E. Fernández, J. Brenes, R. Van der Laat, and T. Marino, Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Gerardo J. Soto, Red Sismológica Nacional, Escuela Centroamericana de Geología (UCR). Apdo. Postal 214-2060, San José, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.rsn.geologia.ucr.ac.cr/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/).
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09/2011 (BGVN 36:09) Frequent degassing and occasional ashfall, March 2010-June 2011

During 5-6 January 2010, Turrialba discharged a phreatic eruption that resulted in a new vent and ashfall up to 30 km from the crater (BGVN 35:02). This report discusses activity from February 2010 through October 2011. Portions of this report were initially synthesized and edited by Shereena Dyer, as part of a graduate student writing assignment in a volcanology class at Oregon State University under the guidance of professor Shan de Silva.

Since the January eruption, Turrialba (figure 23) has continued to eject gas and ash intermittently, maintained elevated fumarolic output and temperatures, and produced strong SO2-bearing plumes from the vent. This activity continued over much of the reporting interval. The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) annual report highlighted the 5-6 January eruption as the key event during 2010. According to OVSICORI-UNA, field observations on 6 January found that two small vents had opened and joined together on the SE inner wall of the SW crater. Current monitoring includes a web camera 600 m from the active crater that takes an image every 10 seconds.

Figure 23. View of Turrialba's SW crater (depression in foreground) and central crater (at distance). The photo documents the character of persistent ongoing fumarolic degassing on an unstated day in January 2011. The yellow zones on the hillsides represent sulfur-bearing deposits sublimated from the sulfur-rich gas emissions. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

After the 5-6 January eruptions, emission levels dropped. In late February 2010, scientists found a pool of molten sulfur at the base of the S crater wall with a temperature of 153°C.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that scientists visited Turrialba on 7 March 2010. A gas plume, common with this volcano, was observed that night rising 1.5 km above the crater and drifting NW. Noises from the crater were described as sounding like a jet engine and rumblings. The January 2010 vent emitted gas in March with surface temperatures between 300 and 320°C. Small blocks 3-12 cm in diameter and of different colors dominated the surface around the vent. Lithics ejected 30-50 m away from the vent measured 170°C. Incandescence seen at night originated from the vent that ejected reddish-colored tephra. Two SO2 measurements taken on or around 13 March from a ground-based spectrometer yielded 1,100 and 750 t/d, the former taken closer to the volcano.

According to OVSICORI-UNA, most of the gas emitted in April originated from the January 2010 vent; in April it produced plumes that rose 2 km above the crater rim. Gas also rose from other areas, including fissures SW of the W crater and from multiple vents and fissures in the main crater. Gas plumes mainly drifted NW, W, and SW, coinciding with areas where vegetation had suffered the greatest damage from the gases.

In April 2010, OVSICORI-UNA reported that multiple years of rain data had been collected at the station La Silvia on the W flank and was frequently found to be acidic (pH often well below 5). During 2007 though mid-2010, the rain had pH 2.8-5.7 and elevated specific conductivity (figure 24). Note that the lowest pH values on the plot were collected during 2009 and 2010.

Figure 24. Specific conductivity (microS/cm) and pH of rainfall collected at La Silvia station associated with Turrialba during parts of the 1980s and then from 2007 through mid-2010. Note break in horizontal scale owing to absence of data. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA/CONARE.

In May scientists noted that on the NW, W, SW sides there were new effects of acid-rain-damaged leaves and vegetation up to 4 km from the main crater. During August, observers noted farms 18 km SW of Turrialba with burns on onions, chemical damage attributed to volcanic gases.

A farm 3 km NW of the summit appears in comparative photos from 2007 and 2011 (figure 25). The houses in the photos were abandoned for a few months after the seismic swarms in the middle of 2007. The residents returned during February-March 2008, only to permanently leave in the middle of 2008 due to harsh atmospheric conditions. This farm remained abandoned in November 2011. Many others were also abandoned in areas of intense impact.

Figure 25. For Turrialba, comparative views from 2007 (top) and 2011 (bottom) of a farm below the crater and to the NW. These photographs show the effects of acidification on the vegetation and infrastructure. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Based on web camera views, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported that on 24 July 2010 a plume of steam, gas, and ash drifted W. Over the next three hours, the plume became more diffuse and steam-rich. Another ash emission was observed on 15 August 2010; the plume drifted about 600 m E of the active crater. Satellite imagery showed an approximately 10-km-wide ash plume drifting 15 km W.

The volcano was relatively quiet during November and December. In January 2011, vegetation damage from acid rain could be observed on the SW, W, and NW flanks. Residents in the village of Silvia, 2.3 km SW of the crater, reported a strong stench of SO2 during the month. On 14 January, nearby residents reported minor ashfall and rumbling noises, and again, strong sulfurous odors. OVSICORI closed the Turrialba Volcano National Park temporarily, evacuated a few people as a precaution, and installed a surveillance base in the town of La Central (~4 km SW of the crater). OVSICORI-UNA noted that a blue-and-white gas plume rose from Turrialba the next day.

During a visit to the volcano in January 2011, OVSICORI-UNA found that a 2- to 5-cm-thick layer of freshly ejected material, with clasts ranging in size from a few millimeters to 5 cm, blanketed the W edge of the crater. Officials discovered two small landslides on the walls of the crater. The walls were considered unsafe due to the loose material. The cavity in the crater that formed in January 2010 had been widened as a result of falling material and the W part of the cavity was offset by about 4 m. A new cavity in the vent appeared to have formed from one of the explosions. Heavy rainfall created a large gully, incising the W edge of the crater at a depth of 0.4-1.5 m. Despite the intense rainfall, the crater was covered in sulfur-bearing deposits. An "eerie sound," which at times could be heard kilometers from the summit, was associated with the emission of gas. A gray plume had a temperature at the vent ranging from 480-498°C.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that on 9 June 2011 scientists conducting fieldwork at Turrialba observed a new lake in the SW crater. Since February, rock landslides along with abundant mud and clay had accumulated in the bottom of the crater, blocking the vent. Meteoric water from rains starting in May had formed a light-green-colored lake that was 70 m in diameter and ~1 m deep. Minor bubbling in the SW and NE shores was noted, and steam and sulfur dioxide gas emissions rose from many fumarolic vents around the crater.

OVSICORI-UNA reported on 12 October 2011 that degassing at Turrialba had affected the vegetation, soil, infrastructure, and economy (figure 25). Acidification of the soil had impaired, possibly permanently, vegetation growth; the economic effect on farms and livestock has yet to be determined. A school building near the volcano was still used by students and teachers, despite having been deemed unsafe. The extent of the effect of acidification on livestock and the economy had not yet been determined.

Reference. OVSICORI-UNA, 2010, Real-time webcamera of Turrialba volcano, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/vulcanologia/videoturri.html)

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/).
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06/2012 (BGVN 37:06) New fumarolic vent opens on the SW flank of the W crater on 12 January 2012

Turrialba is the eastern-most of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes, located 65 km E of the capitol, San Jose. The previous Bulletin report discussed frequent degassing and occasional ashfall between March 2010-June 2011 (BGVN 36:09). This report discusses activity between July 2011 and May 2012.

A recent comprehensive report prepared by Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) provides an excellent background of activity at Turrialba: “Since May 1996, Turrialba volcano has shown an important increase in activity, which can possibly be interpreted as precursory of a new eruptive phase. The volcano-tectonic activity and degassing increase is particularly noticeable since 2007, and even more since the opening of the first fumarolic vent in the W crater [the main crater ‘pLa Quemada’] in January 2010, which suggested a magmatic intrusion between 2005 and 2007 as well as the beginning of a new eruptive phase. A new vent opened on January 12th, 2012, (Boca 2012 or 2012 vent) on the southeast external flank of the W crater, with few hours of ash emission, followed by a second ash emission from the same vent on January 18th, 2012.” A chronology of events leading up to the 12 January 2012 event is shown in Table 6.

Table 6. Events since 1996 leading up to the 12 January 2012 vent opening event, and associated previous Bulletin coverage. Dates and event descriptions courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Date     Remarks                                                            BGVN report(s)1996     During the first four months of 1996 nearly no events were         21:06 (Jun 1996)           registered. After 23 May Turrialba registered a sudden           21:08 (Aug 1996)           increase in microseismicity. In late May there were over         21:12 (Dec 1996)           50 events; in June, 246 events. During July, observers           witnessed weak fumarolic activity continuing along the NE,           N, W, and S sides of the crater which included 146 local           earthquakes. In August, 299 local earthquakes were detected.2001     Seismic swarms and increase in the fumarolic activity with the     26:11 (Nov 2001)           appearance of magmatic gases.2003-    Seismic swarms and increase in the fumarolic activity with the     32:08 (Aug 2007) 2005      appearance of magmatic gases.2007     Seismic swarms and increased fumarolic activity at the bottom      32:08 (Aug 2007)           of the W crater, forming a plume up to 2 km hight.2007-    Increase in the fumarolic activity with a strong magmatic          33:01 (Jan 2008) 2012      component and high temperatures.                                 34:09 (Sep 2009)5-6 Jan  Phreatic eruption and opening of the 2010 vent on the W flank      35:02 (Feb 2010) 2010      inside the W crater accomanied by ash emission.14 Jan   Small Ash emission. 2010Early    “Roaring” sound from the vent located on the N side of the W       36:09 (Sep 2011) 2011      Crater. This vent may have opened at the beginning of the           rainy season, around May 2011; no confirmation possible.5 Jan    Eruption and local area ashfall in areas to the SW. New vent       Current report 2012      suspected in main crater.12 Jan   Opening of the 2012 vent on the SE flank of the W crater           Current report 2012      accompanied by an ash emission.

Seismicity at Turrialba from early November through December 2011 was variable with event frequency ranging from as low as 20 events per day to an occasional high of 80 events per day. The frequency of events dropped significantly in early December to generally less than 60 per day until there was a dramatic increase on 31 December when 155 seismic events were recorded. Event frequency in early January 2012 showed a steady increase from 40 events per day reaching about 80-100 events per day between 6 and 13 January. This increase in seismic events was concurrent with emissions recorded on 5 January and 12 January (table 6).

On 5 January 2012 an eruption at Turrialba produced ashfall in local areas, particularly in areas to the SW, including areas near Irazú volcano (11 km SW). Later reporting suggested a new fumarolic vent may have opened in the main crater on 5 January. According to news articles, about 20 people evacuated the area.

2012 vent opens. After midnight on 9 January 2012, residents of the Central Valley heard booming and crashing sounds. Investigators at OVSICORI-UNA reviewed the seismic records but did not find associated seismic or volcanic activity. On 11 January, residents again reported several instances of rumbling. On 12 January, OVSICORI-UNA reported that a new vent, located on the SE flank of the volcano’s W crater had opened. According to OVSICORI-UNA, the new vent exhibited “a vigorous output of bluish gas at high temperature (T > 592°C) that generated a jet-like sound audible from the visitor lookout.” This activity included a few hours of ash emission. A second ash emission from the same vent occurred on 18 January (see subsection below). Seismic recordings, deformation, and diffused gas flux measurements allowed the conclusion that the opening of the 2012 fumarolic vent is not due to a change in the magmatic activity but to an excessive shallow accumulation of gas. This conclusion is substantiated by information obtained from a network of Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) equipment using five reference points (prisms) which have been taking measurements since 2009. No significant variations of the distance relationships that would coincide with the ash emissions of 2010 and 2012 had been noted. EDM data after March 2011 showed a decrease in measured distances, mainly in the N direction with small variations in the other directions. This information is considered corroborated by Global Position System (GPS) data provided by two GPS stations which show a small but continuous trend of decreasing distance observed during April 2010-January 2012.

Similar vent openings occurred at Turrialba prior to the 1864-66 eruption and at Irazú volcano prior to its 1963-65 eruption. Hence, other openings of fumarolic vents can be expected in the future, especially along the fractures and weak zones aligned in a SW-NE direction that passes by the three upper craters of Turrialba.

The activity of 12 January was a pressure release on the SE flank of the W crater. OVSICORI-UNA considered the release to have penetrated weakened rock, not a magmatic or phreatic (steam-driven) eruption. (The rock at the summit of Turrialba is considered to be very weak due to the intense rainfall and the persistent hydrothermal activity at the summit. This weakness facilitates the development of vents.) An ash plume rose ~500 m above the crater and drifted NNE and NNW, rising to an altitude of ~4 km. Later that day residents reported a dark plume coming from the main crater and a white vapor plume that rose from the fumarolic vent which had formed in the main crater on 5 January 2010. The emissions caused OVSICORI-UNA to raise the Alert Level to Yellow in the communities of La Central (34 km SW), Santa Cruz (7 km SE), and around the perimeter of the crater. Towns of Jiménez (21 km N), Oreamuno (45 km SW), Alvarado (38 km SW), and Cartago (25 km SW) remained at Alert Level Green. Ashfall was reported in Tres Ríos (27 km SW).

Gas emission analysis the day before the opening of the 2012 vent (11 January) showed high values of CO2 and H2S over the entire E flank of the W crater. A 115-m-long liquid sulfur flow was observed in the main crater from the E side of W crater.

18 January eruption. During the evening of 18 January 2012, scientists observed gas emissions and ejection of tephra from the vent. They also observed reddish flames from combusting gas, estimated to be ~700°C. Degassing of Turrialba is considered a normal ongoing activity. An OVSICORI-UNA pilot observed an ash plume that rose to altitudes of ~4.3-6.1 km.

The seismogram from the 18 January eruption (figure 26) showed strong tremor coincident with the tephra and gas emissions. The tremor, which started at 1455, was most intense between 1502 and 1610 according to OVSICORI-UNA. Figure 26a shows >5,000 seconds of the most intense part of the tremor having significant variations in amplitude, especially at the beginning of the activity. Figure 26c shows the signal’s frequency content over the same interval, with the highest normalized amplitudes having peaks between 5 and 15 Hz.

Figure 26. (a) A seismic recording for Turrialba on 18 January 2012 at station VTUN showing the most intense phase of the tremor that prevailed during the eruption that day. (b) Spectrogram of the seismicity shown in (a). (c) Normalized frequency spectrum of the seismic signal; the main peaks are between 5 and 15 Hz. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

A false color satellite image of Turrialba taken on 21 January 2012 highlights ongoing impacts to vegetation from high gas emissions (figure 27). One of the concerns of the government is the amount of acid rain that has fallen on the region surrounding Turrialba. The acid rain, with a pH as low as 3.2, has degraded the local agricultural and livestock economy.

Figure 27. A false-color satellite image of Turrialba (a combination of near infrared, red, and green light) acquired on 21 January 2012. Healthy vegetation appears bright red, while vegetation damaged by years of acidic gas emissions is brown. Bare ground in the summit craters is brown or gray. This image was acquired by NASA’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Reflecton and Emission Radiometer (ASTER) instrument aboard the TERRA satellite. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Vent incandescence in February 2012. A nocturnal visit to the W crater by volcanologists from OVSICORI-UNA on 2 February revealed several incandescent spots. Figure 28 (a view from the overlook taken on 9 February), shows a panoramic view of vent locations in relation to the West, Central, and East Craters.

Figure 28. A panoramic view of the relative locations of the three vents which have been the sites of activity since 2010. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Each vent had different gas and vapor output, and different incandescence intensities. The 2012 vent, which opened on 12 January, registered temperatures above 700°C on 22 February. Continued degassing was noted in conjunction with incandescent spots at several locations on the W crater (figure 29).

Figure 29. A view of the 2012 vent from the overlook taken on 9 February 2012. The insert on the right is the second ash emission from the 2012 vent on 18 January. Courtesy of G. A. Avard, OVSICORI-UNA.

March-May 2012. Residents reported that two large steam-and-gas emissions (~90% water vapor) rose above the volcano on 27 March. The two gas columns rose ~1 km in height and drifted towards the N face of the volcano. A small phreatic eruption was noted on 12 April.

On 2 May 2012, following an increase in seismic and degassing activity with vigorous steaming, there were occasional phreatic explosions that produced ash. According to Tico Times, on 20 May the government raised the Alert Level to Yellow. Temperatures around some fumaroles had risen to as much as 800°C. High-temperature gas emissions (including SO2) increased and caused incandescence in some of the fumaroles.

On 23 May, based on seismometers in Turrubares and Puntarenas, OVSICORI-UNA reported an earthquake with an epicenter ~84 km WSW of Turrialba. The M 3.9 earthquake was at a depth of ~14 km. The earthquake was reported to be a very brief jolt for residents of Esparza, Jaco Beach, and Puntarenas. Some residents of Monteverde, San Pedro, and Santa Ana reported having felt an earthquake of very slight intensity. It is not clear whether the earthquake and the earlier increased Turrialba activity were related.

Information Contacts: Avard G., Pacheco J., Fernández E., Martínez M., Menjívar E., Brenes J., van der Laat R., Duarte E., Sáenz W., Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/); Tico Times (URL: http://www.ticotimes.net/); Reuters (URL: http://www.reuters.com/); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).
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02/2013 (BGVN 38:02) Decreased seismicity and emissions in 2012

As noted by our previous report (BGVN 37:06), on 12 January 2012 Turrialba emitted ash for a few hours due to the opening of a vent, named 2012 Vent, on the SW inside slope of Central Crater. Since then, 2012 Vent has been an active contributor to the regular plume generation at the volcano. Our previous report noted activity through May 2012. This report primarily highlights activity through December 2012, based on online documents from the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) showing a diminution in activity during 2012 compared to 2010 and 2011.

Seismicity. According to OVSICORI-UNA, the seismic activity at Turrialba in 2012 was characterized primarily by shallow and volcano-tectonic events concentrated in the upper part of the edifice, and minor seismicity in nearby faults. In general, seismicity was lower in 2012 than in 2011, and notably lower than that in 2010. Seismic activity climbed slightly during September-October 2012 (from about 20/day, peaking at 150/day on 13 October, and then declining back to normal values after 1 November; figure 30). OVSICORI-UNA noted that seismic activity in 2012 was caused by water and heat interactions causing gas pressure.

Figure 30. The number of seismic events registered per day at Turrialba during 2012. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Deformation. OVSICORI-UNA reported that during 2012 the distances between the Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) station “Pilar” and several nearby reflectors contracted from 2 to 7 cm/year, with the highest value at the N reflector and lowest at the ENE and NE reflectors (see figure 31 for EDM station locations).

Figure 31. The location of geodetic monitoring stations at Turriabla during 2012. Red circles are reflectors of the EDM network, and measurements were made from the Pilar station (red square). Blue circles are permanent GPS stations (CAPI and GIBE). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Emissions. According to OVSICORI-UNA, the opening of the 2012 vent was not associated with new magmatic activity. Vent temperatures measured with a thermocouple were similar during 2010-2012, suggesting to OVSICORI-UNA a sustained and common magmatic source. Measured vent temperatures also correlated with CO2 and H2S gas emissions (figure 32).

Figure 32. (Background image) Thermal image of Turrialba’s W wall in Cráter Central (Central Crater) on 27 October 2012. Two vents are indicated, Boca 2012 (2012 Vent) and Cráter Oeste (West Crater). (Plots) For the measurement locations indicated by arrows, plots compare CO2 flux measurements (black) to both H2S flux measurements (blue) and thermal measurements acquired at 10-cm depth (red). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA; thermal photo taken by G. Avard.

OVSICORI-UNA noted that gas emissions during 2012 had decreased considerably compared to those during 2010 and 2011. OVSICORI-UNA suggested that this decrease might be due to various factors, including a decline in rainfall that resulted in less water vapor, the primary component of the emissions. In a report discussing activity during January-February 2013, OVSICORI-UNA noted that the emissions from 2012 Vent had decreased, even though nighttime incandescence could be observed. Emissions drifted primarily NW during 2012.

Figures 33 and 34 summarize SO2 measurements from both miniature Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer (mini-DOAS, fluxes) and OMI satellite data (masses). SO2 fluxes were lower than those in 2010-2011 when fluxes often reached above 1,000 tons/day (and in one case, nearly 4,000 tons/day; figure 34).

Figure 33. (Left) Daily SO2 flux (metric tons/day) at Turrialba measured by a mini-DOAS station at La Central school, ~2.2 km SW of West Crater, between 1 May 2012 and 1 January 2013. (Right) SO2 mass (uncorrected for any noise) emitted by Turrialba as recorded by NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) aboard the AURA satellite during 2012. The SO2 mass corresponds to the total mass detected by the OMI sensor in the Central America area at 1800-1900 UTC. According to OVSICORI, both mini-DOAS and OMI measurements were consistent and of the same magnitude. The red-shaded area in the satellite data represents the time period corresponding to that of the mini DOAS data. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA and NASA-OMI.
Figure 34. SO2 mass emitted by Turrialba as recorded by NASA’s OMI instrument aboard the AURA satellite between 1 October 2008 and 6 November 2012. These represent masses in the atmospheric column that are thought to have roughly 1 day residence times. Courtesy of NASA-OMI.

As in previous years, rain and fog absorbed volcanic gases in 2011 and 2012, producing acid rain with consequent damage and destruction to vegetation, especially in downwind areas in the sector sweeping clockwise from SW to N from the vents (figure 35).

Figure 35. Annotated photo of Turrialba taken on 26 August 2012. The vegetation on the top and on the flanks of the edifice (zone 1) showed severe effects such as necrosis. The pasture vegetation (zone 2), used for milk production, turned yellowish (chlorosis). Interestingly, part of the native vegetation such as the tall trees (Quercus species) showed a stronger resistance to environmental acidification. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA; photo taken by G. Avard.

OVSICORI-UNA observed that hydrothermal activity modified the mineralogy and decreased the cohesion of the rocks in contact with the fluids, which alter and reduce the stability of the slopes of the volcanic edifice, triggering gravitational collapses, rockfalls, and strong erosion during the main rain events. These phenomena were especially observed after storms on 15 August and in November 2012, when coarse and fine material was transported from the walls to the bottom of Central Crater, deepening the W and NW gullies.

In an M.S. thesis, Rivera (2011) compared SO2 concentrations in Turriabla’s volcanic plume using a ground-based mini-DOAS and three new data analysis techniques using NASA’s OMI instrument. The three new techniques were the MODIS smoke estimation, OMI SO2 lifetime, and OMI SO2 transect techniques. All four techniques involve UV sensor analysis. She found that the OMI SO2 lifetime technique provided qualitative agreement between the ground-based and satellite-based data, while the OMI transect technique provided occasional quantitative agreements with the mini-DOAS measurements. The MODIS smoke estimation technique was inaccurate in estimating SO2 emission rates.

Reference. Rivera, A.M., 2011, Comparisons between OMI SO2 data and ground-based SO2 measurements at Turrialba volcano, M.S. Thesis, Michigan Technological University.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/).
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Turrialba, the easternmost of Costa Rica's Holocene volcanoes, is a large vegetated basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano located across a broad saddle NE of Irazú volcano overlooking the city of Cartago. The massive 3340-m-high Turrialba is exceeded in height only by Irazú, covers an area of 500 sq km, and is one of Costa Rica's most voluminous volcanoes. Three well-defined craters occur at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m summit depression that is breached to the NE. Most activity originated from the summit vent complex, but two pyroclastic cones are located on the SW flank. Five major explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 3500 years. A series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Fumarolic activity continues at the central and SW summit craters.

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

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2013 May 21 2013 Jun 4 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations West Crater
2012 Jan 12 2012 Jan 18 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations West Crater (SE flank)
2011 Jan 14 2011 Jan 14 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
[ 2010 Jul 24 ] [ 2010 Aug 15 ] Uncertain    
2010 Jan 5 2010 Mar 7 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations SW crater
1866 Jan 1866 May 8 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Central and SW summit craters
1864 Aug 17 1865 Mar Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Central and SW summit craters
[ 1861 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1855 May Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1853 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1847 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
[ 1723 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
1350 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0640 ± 40 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0040 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Central summit crater
0830 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
1120 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology
1420 BCE ± 300 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
7260 BCE ± 300 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) NE summit crater

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Cones

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Armado, El Cone 2750 m
Dos Novillos, Volcán Stratovolcano 2530 m
Finca Liebres, Volcán Stratovolcano 3074 m
Tiendilla Cone 2791 m
The summit crater complex of 3340-m-high Turrialba volcano appears in the shadow of this aerial view from the south. Three overlapping craters, each of which contains sub-craters, occur within the 2 x 4 km summit depression. A cloud bank at the upper right covers the breached NE end of the summit crater complex.

Photo by Stan Williams (Arizona State University, courtesy of Mike Carr, Rutgers University).
Turrialba is the SE-most and the 2nd-highest of Costa Rica's Holocene volcanoes. The massive, vegetation-covered stratovolcano is seen here from the barren upper slopes of Irazú volcano to its SW. Three well-defined craters mark the upper end of a broad summit depression that is breached to the NE. Turrialba has been quiescent since a series of explosive eruptions in the 19th century that were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows.

Photo by William Melson, 1969 (Smithsonian Institution)
Massive Turrialba volcano, seen here from the west, lies 24 km NW of the city of the same name. The stratovolcano rises to 3340 m elevation and covers an area of about 500 sq km. The flanks of the volcano display youthful-looking lava flows, and historical eruptions have taken place from summit craters. Guayabo National Monument, an important archaeological park, lies at the southern base of the volcano and marks the site of human occupation that dates back to 500 BC.

Photo by Guillermo Alvarado, (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad).
The 50-m-deep central crater (seen here looking NE toward the breach in the large summit depression) and the SW crater were the site in 1866 of the last and largest historical eruption of Turrialba volcano. Phreatomagmatic eruptions in January and February produced ashfall in Costa Rica's Central Valley for four days in January and three days in February. Ash fell as far as Puntarenas and El Realejo in Nicaragua. Pyroclastic surges traveled more than 4 km, and small lahars traveled down the Río Aquiares and presumably other valleys.

Photo by José Enrique Valverde Sanabria, 1996 (courtesy of Eduardo Malavassi, OVSICORI-UNA).
The rim of one of the three craters filling the large summit depression of Turrialba volcano is seen in the foreground with the wall of the breached summit depression in the background. This depression is 500-800 m wide in a NW-SE direction and 2200 m long in a NE-SW direction and is of possible slope-failure origin. Historical eruptions during the 18th and 19th centuries have originated from the three small craters within this depression.

Photo by Gerardo Soto (published in Alvarado, 1989).
A broad depression breached widely to the NE (right) cuts the summit of Turrialba, the easternmost Holocene volcano in Costa Rica. The upper part of the depression is partially filled by a smaller edifice with a roughly 1.3-km-wide crater, within which three smaller craters aligned NE-SW have formed. The three young craters erupted during the 18th-19th centuries; the walls of the two SW-most craters display broad areas of light-colored, hydrothermally altered rocks. Fumarolic activity continues at these craters.

Photo by Federico Chavarria Kopper, 1999.
The summit crater complex of Turrialba volcano is seen here from the north, with the Central Valley of Costa Rica in the background. Three well-defined craters can be seen at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m wide summit depression that is breached to the NE. Turrialba has been quiescent since a series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century that were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Hydrothermally altered ground can be seen at the central and SW summit craters (right), where fumarolic activity continues.

Photo by Federico Chavarria Kopper, 1999.
The summit of Turrialba, the easternmost in the Cordillera Central, is seen here from its SW flank. The volcano rises to 3340 m about 25 km NW of the city of the same name and is exceeded in height in Costa Rica only by its neighbor Irazú volcano. Turrialba is excentric to the main volcanic chain and lies east of its axis. The summit area is designated as Turrialba National Park, and its northern flanks are part of the extensive Cordillera Volcanica Central forest reserve.

Photo by Eliecer Duarte (OVSICORI-UNA).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Obando L G, Soto G J, 1993. La turbera del rio Silencio (El Cairo, Siguirres, Costa Rica): paleoambientes lagunares influenciados por las ceniza del volcan Turrialba. Rev Geol Amer Central, 15: 41-48.

Reagan M K, 1988. An outline of the recent eruptive history of Turrialba volcano, Costa Rica. Costa Rica Volc Workshop, Smithsonian Inst, Nov 1988, 33 p.

Reagan M K, Gill J B, 1989. Coexisting calcalkaline and high-niobium basalts from Turrialba volcano, Costa Rica: implications for residual titanates in arc magma sources. J Geophys Res, 94: 4619-4633.

Reagan M, Durate E, Soto G J, Fernandez E, 2006. The eruptive history of Turrialba volcano, Costa Rica, and potential hazards from future eruptions. 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: 235-257.

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.

Soto G, 1988. Estructuras volcano-tectonicas del Volcan Turrialba, Costa Rica, America Central. Actas Quinto Cong Geol Chileno, Santiago, 8-12 de agosto de 1988, 3: I 163- I 165.

Soto-B G J, 1988. Geologia y volcanologia del Volcan Turrialba, Costa Rica. Costa Rica Volc Workshop, Smithsonian Inst, Nov 1988, 13 p.

Vaselli O, Tassi F, Duarte E, Fernandez E, Poreda R J, Delgado Huertas A, 2010. Evolution of fluid geochemistry at the Turrialba volcano (Costa Rica) from 1998 to 2008. Bull Volc, 72: 397-410.

Volcano Types

Stratovolcano
Pyroclastic cone(s)

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types

Major
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Dacite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
1,891
6,867
672,428
3,390,544

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Turrialba Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.