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Wild Costa Rica

Alajuela residents should wear face masks due to volcanic ash fall, experts advise

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Published on Monday, April 1, 2024
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Due to the ongoing ash eruptions from the Poás Volcano in Alajuela Province, researchers from the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (Ovsicori) encourage inhabitants of towns and cities that share a common border with the volcano area to wear a face mask similar to surgical N95 disposable respirators.

Experts recorded the most recent eruption on Sunday, at 2:05 p.m. The gas column rose over the crater by more than 2,680 meters. During the eruption, intense and sustained earthquakes with frequencies ranging from 0.6 to 4 hertz were detected.

Since last week, towns located to the west, south, and southwest of the volcano, have reported a strong sulfur smell and volcanic ash fall. Experts urged taking extra precautions due to the falling ash for inhabitants in regions such as Ron Ron and Sucre San Carlos, Zarcero, Grecia, Sarchí, Naranjo, Palmares, Tacares, Alajuela City, Guácima, Sabana Redonda, San Pedro de Poás, Carrillo de Poás, Santa Rosa de Poás, Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Monte de la Cruz, San Rafael and San Isidro de Heredia.

Furthermore, local clinics have treated people who have been affected by ash contact, which causes headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and an inflammatory rash involving the skin around the mouth, eyes and nose.

Scientists report that a network of seismographs and infrared sensors around the volcano continues to detect degassing through fumaroles and a dry crater floor.

Gas eruptions, incandescent hot rocks, and ash are all continually documented. The majority of the debris falls back into the crater floor, although the finer ash is blown by the wind mostly to the west, southwest, and south of the volcano.

Visitors are still unable to access the areas surrounding the volcanic crater. A level 2 alert was issued owing to the volcano's ongoing activity. The alert enables professionals to remain vigilant for potential increases in eruptions, gas emissions, temperatures, earthquakes, ash fall, acid rain, or hazardous gas emissions.

Poás Volcano is part of a national park that covers an area of approximately 16,000 acres. Its summit is 8,900 ft. Depending on conditions, visitors can walk to the edge of the main crater.

The volcano's main crater is 950 feet wide and is quite active with frequent small geyser and lava eruptions. Two more craters make up parts of the park, the Von Frantzius and the Botos. Lake Botos is a beautiful cold green water crater lake with a diameter of 1,200 feet.

The park maintains a variety of wild plant and animal species, such as the magnolia bird species, including the clay-colored robin, black guan, resplendent quetzal, hummingbirds, tanagers, flycatchers and toucans. Mammals within the park include coyotes, rabbits, and marmots.

The National Park is an important part of Costa Rica's natural heritage. It has a unique landscape and geological features making it a popular tourist and research destination.

How do park rangers handle tourists amid continuous volcanic eruptions?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to