Though there are tons of volcanoes to be found throughout Costa Rica, most of them have been pretty quiet in the past few years. Yet, recently, I've started noticing a lot of rumbling coming from Turrialba Volcano National Park and Irazu Volcano National Park, which could mean that these two large mountains are ready to blow! Don't worry, though, as the National Seismology Network from the University of Costa Rica, a group we Ticos call the RSN, is keeping a close eye on the situation to keep us safe.
Rumble in the jungle
Recent reports from the RSN have found a notable increase in the seismic activity surrounding both the Turrialba and Irazu colossi, with 22 tremors over a 2 on the Richter scale and nearly a dozen in June on this year (2012). Of particular note, according to geologist Wilfredo Rojas, are the micro earthquakes happening along the Ariete and Elia geological faults that run on either side of Turrialba. Rojas recently told La Nacion that these tremors could loosen up lava flow and potentially lead to eruptions, or simply agitate the faults enough to cause a major earthquake.
This activity comes only a year after Turrialba Volcano reopened to tourists following its most intense eruption in more than 140 years. The park was closed after a 2010 eruption sent large plumes of smoke into the air and created a danger for people in surrounding areas.
Though Turrialba and Irazu have been active in recent years, the RSN reports that seismic activity in all of Costa Rica has been up in 2012, leading to speculation that even dormant vents like Orosi volcano, Miravelles volcano and Tenorio volcano, could potentially erupt in the future. Even if these quakes, of which Costa Rica averages six per day according to the RSN, fail to start an actual eruption, there is some fear that these tremors could result in fractures to a volcano's surface that could spew noxious gasses into the air, and generally make an area dangerous to be around.
Lots to explore
Fortunately for those of us who are amazed by the beauty and power of these mighty mountains, there are plenty of safe volcanoes to be found throughout Costa Rica – many of which offer walking and trekking tours that will let you get up close and personal with these amazing natural formations. One or two may even let a tree frog like me hop along for the journey!
Volcanoes in Costa Rica
The destructive power of Costa Rica's volcanoes
Take a tour of the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum