Volcán Barú and the mountain city of Boquete
|Elevation||3,474 m (11,398 ft)|
|Listing||Country high point|
|Last eruption||1550 ± 10 years|
De Boer et al. were the first to show that El Baru volcano is active and part of the extension of the Central American volcanic arc in Panama. Further detailed work on the geochemistry of the lavas from El Baru and other volcanoes in Panama was completed by Defant et al. They substantiated, based on geochemistry, that the lavas were derived by subduction (calc-alkaline). Radiometric dates also showed that the volcanism falls into two groups that range from 20 million years to recent. They also showed that the youngest volcanism consists primarily of adakites (partial melts from the subducted slab) whereas the older volcanism is normal calc-alkaline lavas.
The small town of El Volcan at the base of El Baru sits on the remnants of a huge lahar that appears to have breached the caldera. A small river has eroded the lahar exposing an ancient forest below dated to about 1000 years old (Stewart, pers. communication).
Volcán Barú is surrounded by a fertile area of cool highlands drained by the Chiriquí Viejo and Caldera Rivers. The towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta can be found on its western side, while Boquete is on the eastern flank.
The occasional fall of hail or ice pellets has been reported on the summit, where the minimum temperature can be below 0 °C (32 °F) and the formation of frost is frequent during the dry season.
The peak of the mountain is host to a large installation of broadcast towers.
The last major eruption of the volcano was about 500 AD. There are reports and some evidence of a minor eruption around 1550 AD. However, in 2006, an earthquake swarm occurred underneath the mountain, raising fears that it could erupt sometime in the future with explosive force.
The volcano was declared Volcán Barú National Park in 1976, with an area of 14,325 ha (35,400 acres). It is a part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Fauna include the black guan, black-and-white hawk-eagle, Underwood's water mouse, volcano junco, wrenthrush, and yellow-thighed finch. Over 250 species of birds have been identified within the park, and all five species of big cats live here as well. The national park protects a range of habitat, including humid montane forests, low humid montane forests, and montane rainforests.
The park's most popular hiking trail is the Sendero Los Quetzales (Los Quetzales Trail), which connects Boquete with Cerro Punta and wraps around the side of the volcano. The trail takes around 6 hours to hike. There is another trail to the top of the volcano, but this is long, steep and strenuous. You can, however, see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from the summit on a clear day.
- "Barú". Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=1406-01-.
- de Boer, J., Defant, M.J., Stewart R. H., Restrepo, J. F., Clark, L. F., and Ramierez A. H., 1988, Quaternary calc-alkaline volcanism in western Panama: Regional variation and implication for the plate tectonic framework: J. South American Earth Sciences, v. 1, p. 275-293.
- Defant, M. J., Jackson, T. E., Drummond, M. S., de Boer, J. Z., Bellon, H., Feigenson, M. D., Maury, R. C., and Stewart, R.H., 1992, The geochemistry of young volcanism throughout western Panama and southeastern Costa Rica: An overview: J. Geol. Soc. Lond., v. 149, p. 569-579.
- "Volcan Baru/ Panamá". Osatravel. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- "Baru Volcano National Park".