Arenal Volcano National Park

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Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna, Costa Rica

**Note, this text is just taken directly from Arenal.net.**

The 29,692-acre Arenal Volcano National Park is located within the larger 504,094-acre Arenal Conservation Area, which protects some 16 reserves between the Tilarán and Guanacaste mountain ranges. This area contains a great wealth of geologic and biological complexity, as evidenced by the active and incredible Arenal Volcano.

Arenal National Park actually has two volcanoes – the 5,357-foot (1,633-meter) Arenal Volcano and the 3,740-foot (1,140-meter) Chato Volcano. Chato has been inactive for nearly 3,500 years and has a collapsed crater that contains a picture-perfect lagoon. In contrast, Arenal is Costa Rica’s most active volcano and since July 29, 1968 its lava flows have been consistent. On this day in 1968, three craters burst open along the volcano’s western flank. “Crater A” measured 1,000 meters across and set off a pyroclastic flow of toxic gas and hot rocks that spread 12 km, devastating the towns of Pueblo Nuevo and Tabacón. In doing so, it killed 87 people. In September of the same year, “Crater A” began again to emit lava, and remained the most active crater until 1973.

In 1973, the eruption activity migrated to “Crater C.” This crater remains active to the present day, and is characterized by lava that is of an Andesite Basaltic composition, with explosions that contain pyroclastic materials and gas emissions. During the days, you can see smoke and cinder blocks billowing from Arenal’s top, while at night you can watch the fiery-red lava pour down its steep sides.

The active vent is along the western side of the volcano. The town of La Fortuna lies within its eastern shadow, meaning that you’ll need to take a trip to the other side to catch a glimpse of the lava.  It’s also important to note that on many days clouds obscure the top.

Arenal Volcano National Park

History:

Between 1500-1900, the Arenal Volcano remained silent and was considered by many to be extinct. In fact, the local farmers and ranchers who worked the land along its base referred to it as a mountain: Cerro Arenal (Arenal Mountain).

However, on Monday, July 29, 1968 at 7:30 AM, the Arenal Volcano suddenly and violently erupted. The eruptions continued unabated for several days, burying over 15 square kilometers with rocks, lava and ash. When it was finally over, the eruptions had killed 87 people and buried 3 small villages – Tabacón, Pueblo Nuevo and San Luís – and affected more than 232 square kilometers of land. Crops were spoiled, property was ruined, and livestock was killed. It was a difficult time for the people of Arenal.

At the height of its ferocious activity, the volcano flung giant rocks – some weighing several tons – more than a kilometer away at a rate of 600 meters per second. These explosions would go on to form three new active craters.

Between 1968 and 2010, the Arenal Volcano was extremely active – it spewed hot rocks, smoke, ash, and lava from its top almost every day. None of the explosions, however, compared to that of 1968. Since then, the locals have taken caution in building their settlements and farms too close to the volcano. At the present, all towns, hotels and trails are set at a safe distance from Arenal.

Although the volcano took the lives of many men and women, it has given back to the community by becoming one of Costa Rica’s most visited natural attractions. While agriculture is still important to the region, tourism has surpassed this to become the main source of income for the area’s people.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park

**Note, this text is just taken directly from Arenal.net.**

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