Rincon de la Vieja

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Costa Rica
Complex Volcano



Last Updated: July 13, 2000

Photos by Kirt Kempter.

February 16, 1998

Rincon de la Vieja volcano erupted on February 16, after almost a month of showing signs of activity. The eruption was phreatic. It produced a lahar which traveled down several rivers. No damage was reported, although many fish in these rivers were killed. At least 23 steam eruptions occurred throughout the day. A plume reached an elevation of 3280 ft (1000 m). About 2.5 inches (6 cm) of muddy material was deposited on the southern rim of the crater. Muddy ash fell as far as 2 miles (~3 km) to the southwest. Blocks thrown from the volcano formed small impact craters up to 1000 ft (~300 m) from the crater rim.

This information was summarized from a report in the Smithsonian Institution's Preliminary Notices of Volcanic Activity.  

November 6, 1995

Rincon de la Vieja began erupting volcanic ash and water vapor on November 6, 1995. Rincon de la Vieja is an active composite volcano located 30 miles (50 km) south of Lake Nicaragua. Local authorities have evacuated 300 families. Scientists are on their way to the remote volcano. Great amounts of ash have been reported in local rivers. Heavy cloud formations have prevented satellite observations.

In 1982, J. Bruce Gemmel climbed the volcano and provided a description to McClelland and others (1989). Collapse craters trend east-northeast to west-southwest across the summit of the volcano. The main cone is heavily vegetated with the exception of three craters to the west. At that time, the most recently active crater (diameter 800 feet, 250 m) was 0.6 mile (1 km) northwest of the main cone. A lake covered the crater floor.

The most recent confirmed eruption of Rincon de la Vieja was in early 1992. Rincon de la Vieja has erupted at least 16 times since 1851. Most eruptions are phreatic and include the emission of gas and ash. Lahars are often generated by displacement of the crater lake.


More Information on Rincon de la Vieja.

Sources of Information:

Enrique Coen, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica, email communication posted on Volcano ListServ

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 1992, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., v. 17, no. 2, p. 11.

McClelland, L., Simkin, T., Summers, M., Nielson, E., Stein, T.C., 1989, Global volcanism 1975-1985: Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, 655 p.

Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the world: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.