Volcanoes in Costa Rica

Central America is one of the most volcanic regions in the world; Mexico and Costa Rica are no less than 42 volcanoes, spread over a distance of about 1400 km. That Central American volcanic chain is part of a much larger whole, namely the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Pacifistic Ring ‘, a volcanic area on the edge of three continents – America, Asia and Oceania – around the Pacific .

Costa Rica has nine volcanoes, of which six active. All are centrally located in the interior, on a line from northwest to southeast, in a series of mountain ranges that form the continental divide, the backbone of the American continent.

In Costa Rica, all the volcanoes and their surrounding protected areas in the national park status. from north to south which:


Located in the Guanacaste National Park, about 20km under the Nicaraguan border. Extinguished and all covered with very dense vegetation, including the old collapsed craters. 1,487m altitude.
Rincón de la Vieja

Actually a massive 400 square kilometers with two volcanoes; Santa María, highest point of 1916m, and extinguished completely forested, and the actual Rincon de la Vieja, but still active. Of the original nine craters in the massif there are five visible today, including the active crater at about 1700m, filled with a warm and very acidic sulfur lake. The last eruptions of krater dated ’95 and ’98. When it was done some damage by being spewed ash to agricultural crops in the area.

Today, manifests the most activity on lower level, in the form of numerous steam vents, hot springs and boiling mud pools. These volcanic phenomena are easy to visit through a network of hiking trails through the heavily forested national park.

With 2026m the highest volcano in the north. The crater is extinguished but at lower altitude is still some activity in the form of steam holes and boiling mud. But underground is still an enormous amount of heat and energy, however this was in the 90’s built the first geothermal power plant in the country. Thereby, the extremely hot steam used under the volcano to drive electric power, a very low-cost and environmentally friendly method of energy winnning. Since 2010 is also built a geothermal complex in Rincon de la Vieja.

The southernmost of the four volcanoes that form the Cordillera de Guanacaste. Just like Rincón de la Vieja Tenorio consists of several volcanic cones that now one solid form of around 225 square kilometers and 1916m high. Since time immemorial no activity to be seen more in the crater. However, some fumaroles activity on the northeastern flank just under 1000m.

Was formerly the Cerro Arenal, or Arenal hill called because there was no trace of activity and the mountain was not even considered volcano. But after a few centuries calm the volcano suddenly became active again with a devastating eruption in July 1968. In the decades that followed the Arenal remained almost daily lava, glowing rocks and ash belching and was considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. so enormous mass was spewed material almost 80 meters grew the mountain in 40 years. In 1968, the summit was 1633m above sea level. Today is about 1710m. But recently, the volcano seems yet again to have entered into a resting phase. since October 2010 there have been no major outbreaks of pyroclastic material longer observed. The only activity exhibiting today Arenal still occasional heavy plume above the crater. The underground energy, however, still remain the thermal baths in the area equally warm.

Located about 50km north of San Jose and is very accessible. There is a paved road all the way up to a lookout point at about 2500m altitude where in clear weather have a fantastic view of the second largest crater in the world, with a diameter of 1320m and a beautiful gray-blue lake at the bottom. It also shows the activity of the volcano in the form of hissing steam vents in the crater wall. The last major eruptions date back to 1954-55, when barrels were spewed ash and hung a high mileage plume above the crater.

You can also stroll through low growing dwergbos to an ancient, extinct crater, now completely covered with vegetation and the Botos Lagoon on the bottom. The highest point of the Poás is the Von Frantzius cone behind the active crater, 2705M.
On the flanks of the Poas is practiced intense farming. Between 1000 and 1500 is mainly coffee cultivation, above especially ferns, ornamentals and strawberries.

The only non-active volcano in the Cordillera Central. Is uncrowded because it is only accessible by 4×4 transport and part on foot to the highest point at 2906m. In the extinct crater is now a lagoon with rainwater, surrounded by very lush vegetation.

With 3432m the highest volcano in Central America, and just as easy to see as the Poas. Also 50km good road leads to a moonscape hundreds of feet above the tree line. Here are two craters, one sometimes with a bright green lake, depending on rainfall. The Irazu recent years very quiet and ordinary visitor activity to notice anything. That was between 1963 and 1965 changed somewhat because when the volcano spat last two years almost daily gigantic amounts of ash. This constant rain of ash caused initially a lot of damage to crops and infrastructure in the area, but in the medium term, the effect was only positive. Volcanic ash mixed with earth, after all, creates very rich soil and therefore the slopes of the Irazu are still one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country.

This is the twin of Irazu, the same massive and almost as high (3328m). Above are three craters, normally accessible but closed since 2009 to the public because of increasing activity. Quite regularly spits out the main crater big clouds of sulfur dioxide, a volcanic gas that can be harmful to health. On the slopes of the Turrialba lies Guayabo National Monument, the largest archaeological site in Costa Rica. Here you can still see the ruins of a pre-Columbian city that would have been occupied until the early 15th century, just before the Spanish conquest.

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