Volcanologists from the National Seismic Network (Spanish initials: RSN) are concerned about the Poas volcano in the province of Alajuela, which has been emitting a considerable amount of gases over the last few weeks. Journalist Roberto Portuguez Huerta from news daily La Prensa Libre interviewed RSN geologist Demeryth Alpizar, who explained that her office has been in touch with park rangers across Costa Rica in this regard:
Recent volcanic activity along with sulphuric emissions and the heavy presence of noxious gases are prompting national park rangers in Costa Rica to take precautions with regard to visitors. Volcano tourism is very popular in Costa Rica during this season, and some of the most-visited volcanoes are certainly showing off their natural beauty, but officials are controlling visits by tourists.
“The problem is dependent on the wind direction. The Poas volcano is the most active in terms of gasification, which has been constant. Sometimes you arrive at the gate [of the national park] and there’s this strong sulphur smell. This is when you have to be careful, because it means that the wind is picking up and could hit the observatory.”
This gasification and expulsion of gases conforms to phreatic (groundwater) eruptions, which often consists of gas expulsions on the surface of the numerous lagoons, which bubble up and release sulphuric and other pestilent gases. These phreatic eruptions are quite spectacular and a treat for tourists, but no one should be exposed to these gases for more than five minutes. To this end, visitors should heed the directions of park rangers at our volcanoes.
People who suffer from high blood pressure or asthma should evacuate the volcano observatories if they do not feel well during a phreatic eruption or on a windy day. Some people tend to be more sensitive than others and will quickly develop allergic rashes and feel irritation on their throats and skin.
The Costa Rica Star recently reported on the awakening of the iconic Arenal volcano, which tends to attract many adventuresome tourists. There are some dangers associated with volcano tourism; for this reason, it is important to heed the warnings of national park rangers.