Costa Rica Volcanoes

April 09, 2007


Provided and copyright by: Claudia Perko, Clara Barton H.S., Brooklyn, NY
Summary authors & editors: Claudia Perko

The above photo shows a spectacular view into three active volcano craters in Costa Rica. Poás and Irazú are the most popular “tourist” volcanoes; only a day-trip from the capital of San Jose and a paved road brings you up close to the summit. Rincón de la Vieja is more difficult to access. It lies in the northwestern corner of the county, where an unpaved road leads from Liberia to the entrance of the National Park. The hike to the active crater is strenuous (10 mile or 16 km round trip), but the view form the peak is breathtaking.

Poás volcano is located at an elevation of 2,708 m (8,883 ft). The main crater, 1.5 km (about 1 mile) in diameter and 314 m (1,030 ft) deep, contains one of the world’s largest volcanic lakes. The highly acidic lake has a stunning turquoise color.

Irazú volcano is the highest active volcano with 3,432 m (11,257 ft). This volcano has been dormant since 1965. However, the fury of the last eruptions left it with a lunar landscape. Its massive crater is 1,050 m (3,450 ft) in diameter and 300 m (1,000 ft) deep, the bottom of which holds an emerald green lake.

Rincón de la Vieja’s active crater is located at 1,800 m (5,906 ft) of elevation. The lake within the crater is a glowing pale blue color. very fine particles suspended in the water.

Note that differences in color and opacity of the water in the three lakes is due to the suspension of very fine particles. The lighting conditions can cause a difference in color as well (sunlight versus clouds).

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