SAN JOSE – Costa Rican vulcanologists inspected the Turrialba volcano and discovered that the ridge separating two new craters formed after an eruption of ash this week had collapsed, leaving a large crater 65 meters (213 feet) in diameter.
Mauricio Mora, vulcanologist of the National Seismological Network, told a press conference Friday that this was “a normal morphological change since gas emissions erode the walls of the crater, but that does not mean that activity is building up inside the volcano.”
The formation of a new crater inside the Turrialba volcano, located in the eastern part of the country, has caused ash discharges since Tuesday.
Costa Rican experts say that no eruption of lava is likely, at least for the moment, since their studies have shown no indication of magma activity.
Mora said that while the spewing of ash continues, it has diminished and no increase in seismic activity has been registered in the area.
The National Commission of Emergencies, or CNE, maintained a yellow alert in the area Friday and continues to await the results of the studies.
Nonetheless, it recommended that local residents of the small agricultural communities located within a radius of 6 kilometers (3 3/4 miles) around the volcano not return home as a precautionary measure.
Up to now, 36 people have been evacuated from communities located on the slopes of the volcano, of whom 27 are in a shelter and nine are staying with relatives, according to CNE information.
For his part, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said that he will visit the area around the Turrialba volcano on Saturday with his brother and presidential chief of staff Rodrigo to meet with local residents and authorities.
The Turrialba volcano, located some 8 kilometers (50 miles) east of San Jose, is 3,340 meters (10,950 feet) high and is a national park, though the CNE recommended that it be definitively shut down because of the mounting volcanic activity in recent months with the ejection of gases and now of ash.
The last time that Turrialba made a complete eruption was in 1866 and its ashes, according to historical records, reached as far as Nicaragua.