The Turrialba volcano is an active volcano located Northeast of Cartago (Coords: 10.033333,-83.766667). Since 2007, it's become more active, with periodic eruptions of different magnitude. This has led to concern, mostly unwarranted, by people who plan to visit the country.

General information Edit

Volcan Turrialba is a volcano located inside a national park. The highest point is 3340 meters above sea level, and it has 3 craters. It's located about 2 hours away from San Jose, in Santa Cruz de Turrialba. To reach the craters and the volcano area, one has to walk about 2 hours. The roads leading up to the national park aren't extremely car-friendly.

The experience is similar to visiting Irazu, with cloudforest on the paths inside the national park, and ash dunes in the area around the crater. There's wildlife, but it's nocturnal.

Volcanic activity Edit

The volcano is now permanently active. The activity is mostly quiet: water vapor clouds and minor seismic activity, which can only be felt inside the park. There's some acid rain around the crater, but nothing that affects areas outside national parks.

No official predictions exist on whether the activity will become more violent, or stop in the near future. Volcanic activity like the one at the Turrialba volcano is to be expected at any moment, there's no real way to tell what's going to happen.

On March 12, 2015, Turrialba had one of the largest eruptions registered to date. The resulting ash cloud reached a height of 1000 meters, and in the following hours spread over a large part of the Central Valley. This eruption caused a huge media hype, which made a lot of people nervous and gave way to all sorts of rumors and hearsay on the internet. But, the truth behind the situation is a whole lot less severe than what the Internet is saying:

  • The only real effect outside of the park was the volcanic ash cloud. There was no lava flow, no falling rocks, no loud noises.
  • Areas near the volcano caught the harder part of the ash cloud. A few small towns were evacuated as a precautionary measure. We're talking maybe a hundred people, out of 4 million that were in the Central Valley at the time.
  • The ash cloud spread over the east of the Central Valley, mainly the area from Cartago to Heredia. By the time the ash cloud reached the valley, the effects were minor. Most plants and cars got a light dusting, not much thicker from what you'd find of top of a bookcase. On sidewalks and terraces, lines a few centimeters wide of dark sand-like ash could be seen. Some areas of the Valley did get thick dust clouds, but only for a few hours.
  • Some people got the sniffles from the dust in the air, and were better within 48 hours. Hospitals registered no noticeable increases in respiratory-related cases after the eruption.
  • No acid rain was produced by the eruption. Local water companies ruled out any effects on local water supplies, a few hours after the eruption.
  • Local airports closed down, as a precautionary measure. Nothing unusual happened to planes in flight or on the ground as a result of the eruption.
  • After the tweets and facebook posts died down, life went back to normal and has been normal ever since.

A couple more big eruptions have occured since March, the airport has been closed down twice because of those. In both cases, the airport was out of service for 24 hours or less. Nothing different from the eruption in March, and no major consequences. The volcano remains active, but the activity is restricted to the volcano itself. The rest of the country is quiet, with no effects.

So, even now after many eruptions at Turrialba, there is still no cause for alarm or concern surrounding the volcanic activity. Everyone is perfectly safe and life goes on as usual. The ash cloud has settled and the dust problems are over.

Unless you're planning to visit Turrialba or the areas near the volcano, you shouldn't worry about this issue.