Groundwater transport of crater-lake brine at Poa ́s Volcano, Costa Rica

Ward E. Sanford, Leonard F. Konikow, Gary L. Rowe, Susan Louise Brantley

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36 Scopus citations


Poa ́s Volcano is an active stratovolcano in Costa Rica that has a lake in its active crater. The crater lake has high temperatures (50-90 °C), high acidity (pH ≈ 0.0), and a high dissolved-solids content (100 g/kg). The volcano has numerous freshwater springs on its flanks, but a few on the northwestern flank are highly acidic (pH = 1.6-2.5) and have high dissolved-solids concentrations (2-22 g/kg). This study analyzes the regional groundwater system at Poa ́s and demonstrates the likelihood that the water discharging from the acidic springs in the Rio Agrio watershed originates at the acidic crater lake. Both heat and solute transport are analyzed on a regional scale through numerical simulations using the HST3D finite-difference model, which solves the coupled equations for fluid flow, heat transport, and solute transport. The code allows fluid viscosity and density to be functions of both temperature and solute concentration. The simulations use estimates for recharge to the mountain and a range of values and various distributions of permeability and porosity. Several sensitivity analyses are performed to test how the uncertainty in many of the model parameters affects the simulation results. These uncertainties yield an estimated range of travel times from the crater lake to the Rio Agrio springs of 1-30 years, which is in close agreement with the results of tritium analyses of the springs. Calculated groundwater fluxes into and out of the crater lake are both about several hundred kg/s. These fluxes must be accounted for in water budgets of the crater lake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-293
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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