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Turrialba more active, emissions increase 13 October 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Costa Rica, natural hazards, Turrialba.
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Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica is not a good neighbour: its sulphur dioxide emissions spread across the adjacent countryside, particularly to the west, damaging local vegetation and ruining the local agricultural economy. Costa Rica’s Teletica news channel has been reporting on the effects of recent increases in Turrialba’s emissions, now running at between 700 and 2000 tonnes/day: ‘The green vegetation that covered the volcano has been replaced by a bright yellow, and the trees have been turned into skeletons’, local schoolchildren are having to wear breathing masks to protect them from the unhealthy effects of the gases, and even the equipment used by scientists to monitor the volcano has been damaged by accelerated corrosion (‘Turrialba volcano’s activity is a threat to surrounding villages’). Vegetation around the volcano may not recover from the damage for 20 years, and the effects on local agricultural communities have been severe: arable and livestock farmers have been forced out of business by the effects of Turrialba’s emissions, and local milk production has declined (‘Environmental damage caused by Turrialba volcano destroyes vegetation and agricultural production’). Some nearby villages have been abandoned by their inhabitants because of the effects of Turrialba’s sulphur dioxide.

Recent field investigations by Costa Rica’s geological authority OVSICORI have revealed further signs of increased activity at Turrialba: increased sulphur deposition within the active western crater and the appearance of new fissures and the widening of existing cracks on the southern rim of the west crater and low down on the north-western flank of the volcano. These new cracks are emitting gas-and-vapour fumes, adding to the emissions problem. A news report from Costa Rica’s Columbia radio station on 7 October, headed ‘Turrialba volcano is more active than ever’, says OVSICORI have also found temperature increases in the west crater, in addition to cracks and sustained emissions producing a white gas column.

Meanwhile, La Nación reports that the Costa Rican national seismological network (Red Sismológica Nacional) has registered ‘a significant fall in the number of earthquakes’ at Turrialba – but that seismicity may be on the rise at Rincón de la Vieja volcano, where ‘a significant number of minor earthquakes’ have been detected.

News
El Volcán Turrialba está más activo que nunca – Columbia, 7 October 2009
Actividad del volcán Turrialba amenaza a poblaciones cercanas – Teletica, 7 October 2009
Daño ambiental provocado por volcán Turrialba acaba con vegetación en montañas y producción agrícola – Teletica, 8 October 2009
Vulcanólogos detectan sismos leves en Rincón de la ViejaLa Nación, 12 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Turrialba – summary information for Turrialba (1405-07=)
Global Volcanism Program: Rincón de la Vieja – summary information for Rincón de la Vieja (1405-02=)
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica – Ovsicori website
Volcán Turrialba – information from Ovsicori
Monitoreo Volcanico (Red Sismológica Nacional) – volcano monitoring updates from the Costa Rican national seismological network

The Volcanism Blog