Last Updated: May 20, 2013
The soft red glow of lava dispersed in the evening mist like a red neon sign advertising one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. But in 2011, Arenal volcano's light was extinguished and the volcano fell into a deep slumber after 43 years of activity. Occasional plumes of smoke can still be seen spewing from its near-perfect cone, like a silent vigil.
Location : Arenal Volcano National Park
Altitude : 5,436 feet above sea level
Over the last 40+ years, a second cone has grown up next to the previous, and today, Arenal has two twin volcanic peaks. The volcano's second peak is just a few feet taller than the first. Together they form the world-renowned "perfect" volcanic cone.
Arenal has had several names throughout the years, including Arenal Peak, Rio Frio Volcano and Pan de Azucar (Sugar Loaf). In Spanish, Arenal means "sand dune," and refers to the volcano's ash, or sandy slopes. Its cone is so perfect, that volcano aficionados have declared it the third-most best volcanic cone in the world. At just 3,000 years old, Arenal Volcano is considered a young volcano.
On July 29, 1968, Arenal Volcano violently awoke. For the first time in over 400 years, the volcano spewed its hot pyroclastic flow of gas, molten rock and ash. The eruption blew two holes in the western side of the volcano devastating the towns lay beneath, including Tabacon and the original Arenal. 80 people died in the ensuing destruction.
After the 1968 eruption, Arenal continued to erupt on a daily basis – a phenomenon known as strombolian activity. The volcano's lava, considered to be relatively cool, accumulated making the volcano to grow almost 10 feet per year.
Volcanologists in Costa Rica constantly monitor Arenal's activity and warn that the volcano could have a major eruption in the future.