The Arenal Area Magazine

Why the volcano was giving off a glow


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Every once in awhile, residents in the Central Valley can see a red glow emanating from the new crater on Volcán Turrialba to the east. The glow also can be seen on the Web cam installed at the summit of the mountain.

Scientists said that there did not seem to be a reason for the glow from the cavity, and they wanted to find out why it increased and decreased in intensity.

At its peak, the glow can be seen some 40 kms away, they said. That’s about 25 miles.

The temperature around the crater is between 520 and 580 C. (968 and 1076 F), according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica. Scientists
from the Universidad Nacional observatory were there earlier this month to check out the temperature in an unusual way.

The scientists put a piece of lead in a steel container and lowered it on a steel cable into the mouth of the cavity and kept the container there for five minutes.

There was no surprise that the lead melted. The material melts at 327 C or 620 F.

Eventually from observation scientists concluded that gas from an adjacent volcano mouth was blocking the oxygen that helps create the glow. Only when a strong wind blows away the heavier gases from the adjacent cavity does the glow appear. It can be 40 meters high, they said. That’s about 130 feet.

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