Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

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Rincón de la Vieja
Guanacaste National Park.jpg
Rincón de la Vieja volcano
Elevation 1,916 m (6,286 ft)[1]
Rincón de la Vieja is located in Costa Rica
Rincón de la Vieja
Rincón de la Vieja
Costa Rica
Location Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Range Cordillera de Guanacaste
Coordinates 10°49′48″N 85°19′26″W / 10.83000°N 85.32389°W / 10.83000; -85.32389Coordinates: 10°49′48″N 85°19′26″W / 10.83000°N 85.32389°W / 10.83000; -85.32389[1]
Type Complex volcano
Last eruption 1998 [1]

Rincón de la Vieja is an active andesitic complex volcano in north-western Costa Rica, about 25 km from Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste. Its name means "The Old Woman's Corner", a reference to a local legend about a girl whose lover was thrown into the crater by her father; she became a recluse living on the mountain, and was credited with powers of healing.

Rincón de la Vieja stands 1,916 metres (6,286 ft) above sea level, and its summit is the highest point in Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park. It erupted most recently in September 2011. The volcano has a large number of fumaroles and hot springs on its slopes. It is formed by felsic lava.

Rincón de la Vieja is one of six active Costa Rican volcanoes: the others are Poás, Irazú, Miravalles, Arenal, and Turrialba.


Rincón de la Vieja is a ridge-shaped massif, with several volcanic vents lying along a northwest-southeast axis. Several craters and peaks exist, with Santa María peak being the highest at 1916m above sea level. Von Seebach peak, 1895m above sea level, has been the site of most historical eruptions.

Little is known about Rincón de la Vieja's early eruptive history. It lies within a larger caldera, which indicates that a very large eruption probably occurred thousands of years ago. Analysis of nearby pyroclastic flow deposits shows that they were erupted in a moderately large eruption about 3500 years ago, and the first recorded eruption of the volcano took place in 1765.

Since then, many minor eruptions have occurred, the most recent in September 2011. They have mostly occurred at a crater near Von Seebach peak, and have been characterised by strombolian and vulcanian activity in which eruptions are confined to the crater, and ash is erupted to moderate heights. The active crater is currently filled with a hot, acidic crater lake.[1]

Geothermal energy[edit]

Hot Spring in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Costa Rica
Detail of the volcano

There are a large number of hot pools and areas of bubbling mud in two areas on the slopes of the volcano, indicating substantial reserves of geothermal energy. Investigations have been carried out into the feasibility of tapping these reserves, and the volcano is estimated to have a generating potential of 140 megawatts. However, as the area is protected within a national park, drilling has so far been limited to test wells. Further drilling will require approval after studies of the likely environmental impact.[2]


The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano is set within the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, which spans over 34,000 acres (12,759 ha) and helps protect both montane forests and dwarf cloud forests. Trails extend from the Santa Maria ranger station and wind through the park, passing hot springs and waterfalls along the way. Mammals within the park include sloths, tapirs, kinkajous, pumas, jaguar, and both howler and spider monkeys.[3]

Historically, hikers could climb to the crater and guides experienced in wildlife, birdwatching, geology and other interests are available.

As of September 22, 2011, access to the crater is no longer available due to the eruption of September 16 where volcanic ash and mud rose over 120 feet from the regular crater lagoon.[4]

Several lodges, resorts and hotels in the area offer hiking, forest canopy tours, horseback riding, river-rafting, all-terrain-vehicle riding and wall-climbing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Rincón de la Vieja". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  2. ^ Huttrer G.W. (2001), The status of world geothermal power generation 1995-2000, Geothermics, v.30, p.1-27
  3. ^ Stater, Adam. "Rincón de la Vieja National Park". 
  4. ^ La Nacion http://www.nacion.com/2011-09-26/Sucesos/minaet-limita--acceso-a-crater-del--rincon-de-la-vieja-por-erupcion.aspx.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]