After a huge bang, the lava shoots up to the sky and starts to flow down the hills, burning everything in its way.
This scenario appears to be something out of a scary movie, but here in Costa Rica there are five active volcanoes that could go off in any moment. These volcanoes are the Turrialba, Poas, Irazú, Arenal and Rincón de la Vieja — all of them attractive touristic locations for the brave and adventurous.
At Irazú you can climb to the top and see with your own eyes the effects of a volcanic eruption and the path the lava leaves behind. At Arenal you can climb to an old lava river of black stones and you can see magma pouring out of the crater by night.
At each of these places, the land-changing energy of the planet can be felt — actually be felt! The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) registers all the seismic activity in Costa Rica, so you can go online and see the records for yourself; there is at least one earthquake every day. Something to keep in the back of your head as you climb one of the mighty volcanoes.
This year we’ve seen remarkable activity at the Turrialba volcano, currently the most active of all five. This volcano has been throwing ashes into the air all year after a long period of inactivity. Volcanologists of the OVSICORI have kept a close eye to this volcano, as it may continue to erupt any time soon.
The crater of the Turrialba is now in constant turmoil as the magma rises to the surface. This October there were 116 eruptions (more than three a day). The eruptions are mostly ashes blown in the Central Valley — even reaching Alajuela and Heredia at times — and it was necessary to close the Juan Santamaria International Airport for a few days when the ash was at its worst.
- Oct 29, 2014: Turrialba’s first magmatic eruption in 150 years destroys wall between West and Central craters. Such eruptions continue until the 31st.
- Nov 13, 2014: Large ash-bearing explosion.
- Dec 8, 2014: Strong Strombolian explosion.
- March 12, 2015: Turrialba awakens from its holiday slumber with a “series of vigorous ash eruptions.”
- April 3, 2015: Small plumes of ash lead to Easter weekend volcanic explosions causing flight interruptions.
- April 24, 2015: Turrialba spews incandescent lava during a Strombolian-type explosion.
- May 1, 2015: A new wave of “weak to moderately powerful” eruptions begins.
- May 16, 2015: Turrialba shoots out “one of the most intense phases of ash emissions so far.” Ash reaches Alajuela and Heredia.
- Aug 18, 2015: A small eruption breaks the dry spell generating ash and tremors.
- Oct 23, 2015: Turrialba shows smoke again with some relatively strong explosions near the crater area.
The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias has declared a state of alarm, and has evacuated everyone on a 5 kilometer radius from the volcano and closed the National Park for tourist until the activity ceases or the volcano explodes.
As for the other four volcanoes, it is still safe to visit them — as safe active volcanos can ever be that is. Officially, OVSICORI has declared that the Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja and Poas are entering a dormant period with scarce activity, though there are rumors that Arenal may not be as sound asleep as she currently seems.
As for the Irazú there has been seismic activity, but nothing out of the ordinary that could worry the volcanologists. It hasn’t blown since 1963, and the experts believe it won’t erupt any time soon.