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COSTA RICA -   Wednesday 06 January 2010

Costa Rica's Turrialba Volcano Erupts, Alert Declared

The 3,340-meter (11,000-foot ) Turrialba volcano, situated in the Cartago province, 53 kilometres east of the capital city San José, last active in the 19th century erupted on Tuesday, spewing ash and steam and prompting authorities to evacuate a small number of people from its slopes.

The Turrialba had shown increased activity since the weekend, Vanessa Rosales, president of Costa Rica's Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE)  - national emergency commission.

The area around the volcano is not very populated, although ash from the volcano could reach San José is activity at the volcano intensifies and becomes more severe.

Authorities evacuated 20 people from its slopes, with 30 more to be evacuated on Wednesday, according to the CNE.

The volcano is not near any major coffee production areas, though the town of Turrialba and surrounding area has many coffee plantations.

The Turrialba volcano has been dormant since a 22 year active period that began in 1864, according to Juan Segura, the director of the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica (OVSICORI) - the Costa Rican Volcanology and Seismology Observatory.

Ash from Turrialba's last major eruption in February 1866 fell hundreds of kilometers away, reaching Nicaragua, according to the observatory.

On Christmas Day the Poás Volcano had a "phreatic eruption", showing off for the dozens of tourists, both national and foreigners, with the expulsion of a vapour, water and sediment from the centre of the crater's lagoon. The column of vapour reached some 600 metres from the volcano.

The Poás is situated nortwest of San José, minutes from the Juan Santamaría (San José) international airport.

According to Wikipedia, a phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion or ultravulcanian eruption, occurs when rising magma makes contact with ground or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma (anywhere from 600 to 1,170 °C (1,112 to 2,138 °F)) causes near-instantaneous evaporation to steam resulting in an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock, and volcanic bombs. At Mount St. Helens hundreds of steam explosions preceded a 1980 plinian eruption of the volcano. A less intense geothermal event may result in a mud volcano. In 1949, Thomas Jaggar described this type of activity as a steam-blast eruption.

Turrialba Volcano.

Photo courtesy of http://www.arenal.net/costa-rica-volcanoes.htm
Turrialba, Costa Rica
is described as a quiet town, with its charming street corners and gorgeous surrounding sceneries is among the few places in Costa Rica with direct access to a volcano’s crater. From the summit of the volcano, you can on a clear day, see the Irazu, Poás and Barva volcanoes in the distance.

Among the most rarely visited national parks in Costa Rica, the Turrialba Volcano National Park is home of the active Turrialba Volcano, whose last major eruption occurred in 1866. The volcano itself is only 15 km northwest of town.

However, it is safe to climb, and though the facilities at the park are rather meager, it is still a worthwhile trip.

Turrialba is also famous for baseball. This is because Rawlings baseballs that are used in Major League games are manufactured in this tiny town.




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