San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Poás volcano

Tourist access reopened at Poás Volcano following recent phreatic eruptions

Tourist access to Poás Volcano, Costa Rica’s second most visited national park located 47 kilometers northwest of the capital, was reopened Tuesday after phreatic explosions prompted the evacuation on Monday of tourists and park staff.

National Seismological Network (RSN) volcanologists asked park officials to remain vigilant and to enforce special security protocols for visitors, such as prohibiting entry to people with respiratory and heart ailments.

RSN volcanologists issued a full report following an on-the-ground inspection of the volcano’s crater on Tuesday. The report states that more phreatic explosions of varying intensity are expected in coming days. Analysis shows that Poás “is accumulating significant pressure in short periods of time,” the report said.

On Monday, the volcano sent mud, ash and rock flying all the way to the park’s scenic tourist lookout, the visitors’ center and parking lots located 1.5 km (0.9 miles) away from the crater’s lagoon.

Park administrator Redy Conejo Aguilar on Wednesday confirmed the reopening of the tourist entrance, and park officials said they would follow the recommendations of volcanologists.

“We are allowing access to the viewing area for periods of only 20 minutes at a time,” Conejo said. “We also are warning visitors that those with respiratory or heart problems should avoid making the trip.”

The Poás Volcano has been constantly active since March 2006, mostly with phreatic eruptions in the crater’s lagoon.

On Oct. 8, experts registered a phreatic eruption that spread material vertically some 300 meters (984 ft). Monday’s explosions reached 500 meters (1,640 ft).

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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