Poás Volcano pp 261-299 | Cite as

Volcanic Hazard Assessment of Poás (Costa Rica) Based on the 1834, 1910, 1953–1955 and 2017 Historical Eruptions

  • Raúl Alberto Mora AmadorEmail author
  • Dmitri Rouwet
  • Gino González
  • Priscilla Vargas
  • Carlos Ramírez
Part of the Active Volcanoes of the World book series (AVOLCAN)


Poás is a complex stratovolcano with an altitude of 2,708 m a.s.l., located in the Cordillera Volcánica Central of Costa Rica. Prior to 2017, the last three historical eruptions occurred on 7th of February 1834, between January and May 1910 and during the period 1953–1955. Very few information exists on the 1834 eruption. The only references state that: it was an important event; ash reached >53 km W–SW of Poás, and it harmed the grasslands around the volcano. Related deposits of this eruption suggest phreatic activity, which launched bombs and blocks. Moreover, there is evidence of pyroclastic flow deposits near the crater. The 1910 eruption is better described. Despite the fact that ash fall is only reported near the volcano, a volume of the deposit of 1.6 × 107 m3 was estimated. Deposits of the eruption are white in color with many hydrothermally altered, and minor presence of juvenile fragments (vesicular lapilli). The eruption is classified as vulcanian, with deposits of ash fall and pyroclastic flows close to the crater. A Volcano Explosivity Index 3 (VEI 3) is estimated. The eruption affected agriculture. The 1953–1955 eruptions had a longer duration. Various ash fall deposits at several sites were reported. Deposits of this eruption, easily distinguished in the field, are black scoria lapilli, bombs with, sometimes fusiform, bread crust textures. In the eastern sector of the crater bombs can reach meters in size; such large bombs near the eruption centre at one side suggest the inclination of the eruptive conduct, or an asymmetrical vent-crater system. Inside the crater a 40 m-high dome and a lava flow were extruded during the eruption. Towards the eastern side of the current Laguna Caliente crater lake, relicts of a 8.5 m thick lava pool are found. During the entire eruptive episode, the acid lake presumably lacked. The eruption is described to be of a mixed type: strombolian, phreatomagmatic, vulcanian and dome extrusion eruptions. Considering the characteristics of this eruption, the height of the eruption column, ejected volume (2.1 × 107 m3), and its presumed duration, a VEI 3 is estimated. The eruptions damaged agricultural activity (including cattle), and forced the spontaneous evacuation of some people. In April 2017 magmatic eruptions followed a decade-long period of intense phreatic activity. These eruptions destroyed the 1953–1955 Dome and led to the complete dry out of Laguna Caliente. Pyroclastic cones and sulfur volcanism manifested at the bottom of the former crater lake bottom. The 2017 eruption severely affected touristic activities at and near Poás, with an estimated economic loss of 20 million dollars. By May–August 2018 Laguna Caliente reappeared. The volcanic hazards related to the three studied historical eruptions are: pyroclastic flows (at least 1 km from the eruptive centre, including reaching the current mirador sector), ballistics (bomb ejections up to 2 km from the emission centre), dispersion and fall of pyroclasts (tens of kms), gas emission and acid rain, dispersed by WSW dominant winds, and lahars in most of the river canyons SW of the volcano.


Poás volcano Laguna caliente Sulfur Phreatic eruption Volcanic hazard 


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References Newspapers and Journals

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raúl Alberto Mora Amador
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Dmitri Rouwet
    • 3
  • Gino González
    • 4
  • Priscilla Vargas
    • 2
  • Carlos Ramírez
    • 4
  1. 1.Escuela Centroamericana de GeologíaUniversity of Costa Rica (UCR)San JoséCosta Rica
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ecología UrbanaUniversidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED)San JoséCosta Rica
  3. 3.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisca e Vulcanologia (INGV)Sezione di BolognaItaly
  4. 4.Volcanes Sin Fronteras (VSF)San JoséCosta Rica

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