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Arenal: increased activity causes concern 4 April 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Arenal, Costa Rica, volcano monitoring.
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Arenal at night, photographed 7 April 2006 by Scott Robinson (Creative Commons license)

Costa Rica’s Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) is stepping up monitoring of Arenal volcano following an increase in seismic activity over the last month. The national seismological monitoring network (Red Sismológica Nacional) reports that 45 earthquakes were recorded during March, compared with ‘4 or 5’ in February. Seismologist Guillermo Alvarado is quoted in the Mexican newspaper El Financiero as saying that similar behaviour to that recorded in March preceded significant eruptive activity in 1975, 1993, 2000 and 2001. The CNE will be co-ordinating measures to ensure that tourists visiting Arenal and its surroundings over the Easter holidays are kept to safe areas and informed about potential dangers.

Note the irresponsible headline on the English-language Inside Costa Rica story: ‘Experts predicting major activity from Arenal volcano’. They are doing nothing of the sort: volcanologists and seismologists never predict, they only forecast, and in this case they are not even doing that, they are just drawing attention to a pattern of behaviour that has in the past been associated with eruptive activity and working with the authorities to ensure that warnings are issued and prudent precautions are taken. The Inside Costa Rica story itself contradicts its own headline by reporting that Eliécer Duarte of the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica ‘said that the volcano has maintained sustained activity for the last 40 years and that, although there will be new flows and related activities, it does not necessarily mean a precursor to “major” cycles and the basis for the predictions’ — the ‘predictions’ none of the experts are making, because there is no basis for them.

Image: Arenal, photographed 7 April 2006 by Scott Robinson (Creative Commons license). [source]

Experts predicting major activity from Arenal volcanoInside Costa Rica, 2 April 2009
Vigilan en Costa Rica al volcán ArenalEl Financiero, 3 April 2009
CNE aumenta vigilancia en ArenalLa Nación, 3 April 2009

Global Volcanism Program: Arenal – summary information for Arenal (1405-033)
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica – main page for Ovsicori

The Volcanism Blog