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Costa Rica Volcano Erupts, Temporarily Closing International Airport [Video]

A Costa Rica volcano erupted Thursday about 44 miles east of San Jose, the nation’s capitol.

Reuters reported the Costa Rica volcano, Turrialba, sent plumes of gas and ash up 3,280 feet in what amounted to the most powerful eruption of the Costa Rica volcano in two decades.

The eruption of the Costa Rica volcano forced airport officials at the San Jose international airport to close facilities Thursday night, according to ABC News. Twelve inbound flights were diverted and 10 scheduled departures were put on hold.

The San Jose airport re-opened Friday afternoon. The Costa Rica volcano erupted four times on Thursday. A light dusting of ash reached parts of San Jose. No injuries were reported, although evacuations were ordered.

“We have recommended the evacuation of people and small animals as a precaution,” said a spokesman for the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI). “The last explosion was very strong.”

Roads near the Costa Rica volcano were ordered closed as a precaution. Public access was restricted at over a one-mile radius from the Costa Rica volcano.

The Tico Times reported that volcanologists were analyzing ejected materials from the Costa Rica volcano to determine whether or not there was an additional threat of magma.

“So far, we don’t have any visual confirmation on magma levels rising up,” said Eliécer Duarte González, a volcanologist from OVSICORI’s Volcano Surveillance Department. “However the characteristics of the explosions suggest magma levels could be increasing inside the crater.”

The Costa Rica volcano’s eruption caused a stir on social media, where false rumors circulated Friday morning that ash from Turrialba had contaminated the drinking water. The public’s concern was addressed by the Costa Rica’s Water and Sewer Institute’s president, Yamileth Astorga, who said the rumors were false.

“At the time there is no need to issue any public alert on water contamination,” she said.

The Costa Rica volcano erupted last October, when it ejected magma for the first time since 1863.

Besides the obvious danger of lava flows, magma eruptions are considered extremely dangerous due to the high amounts of concentrated gases locked within the magma as it rises to the surface. If the magma continues an upward trajectory, the pressure is lowered and bubbles begin to form within the magma, making it less dense than the surrounding rock. Near the surface, violent eruptions may occur producing a volcanic version of shrapnel called tephra.

The Inquisitr reported on several American companies opening up shop in Costa Rica earlier this week to attract more tourist dollars. The eurption of a Costa Rica volcano will likely be an additional draw for travelers visiting San Jose.

[Image via OVSICORI’s webcam]