Arenal is a very active volcano in Costa Rica. Daily tourists visiting hear the rumblings and often see the gases that look like smoke during the day.  At night, the boulders thrown from the volcano look red as they roll down the mountain.  A story from 2000 is still told as though it happened this year.  Tourists visiting did not listen to the park guidelines and went past the allowed boundaries with their guide. The volcano erupted and  the gases killed them. Another story is that a small plane flying to close to the volcano so that its passengers could see the crater crashed into the volcano.  The volcano's magnetic properties caused the plane to crash.  More than a million tourists each year visit Costa Rica for its rain forests, volcanoes and  beaches making it a popular destination for geotourists.  When visiting volcanoes follow the local safety guidelines. Volcanoes can be dangerous.
Geotourism - Volcanoes and Tourists
Turrabalo       
COSTA RICA VOLCANO
WEB CAM
Vacationing in areas where there are active volcanoes is a popular destination for geoturism. More than a million people visit Costa Rica each year. The local governments and parks try to make it fun and safe for their residents and the visitors.

Review of Health risks to tourists - effects of gases, ash, lava flows, landslides and mudflows
Geotourism and volcanoes: health hazards facing tourists at volcanic and geothermal destinations.

Tourists in Hawaii, from 1992- 2002, Helicopter tours, hiking in areas with active lava flows, falls into steam vents and earthcracks, and driving unfamiliar rental cars in unfamiliar locations are the major activities resulting in death and serious injury. Additional factors such as tourists ignoring warning signs, wandering off-trail or hiking at night, tourists misinformed by guidebooks and other tourists, and tourists with pre-existing heart and asthma conditions are contributing causes in many incidents.
Reported fatal and non-fatal incidents involving tourists in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 1992-2002.

An eight week study of tourists visiting Hawaii found most were inexperienced at hiking and they were likely to ignore park warnings and go into dangerous areas. They often injured their legs with minor cuts, scrapes and muscle strains. A majority were dehydrated (drink water), and many had breathing problems (respiratory irritations).
Viewing lava safely: an epidemiology of hiker injury and illness in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.









Research Articles

Geotourism and volcanoes: health hazards facing tourists at volcanic and geothermal destinations.
Heggie TW.   [Travel Med Infect Dis. 2009 Sep;7(5):257-61. Epub 2009 Jul 5]
University of North Dakota, Recreation & Tourism Studies Program, Grand Forks, ND 58202, USA.

Volcano tourism and tourism to geothermal destinations is increasingly popular. If such endeavors are to be a sustainable sector of the tourism industry, tourists must be made aware of the potential health hazards facing them in volcanic environments. With the aim of creating awareness amongst the tourism industry and practitioners of travel medicine, this paper reviews the potential influences and effects of volcanic gases such as carbon dioxide (CO(2)), hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S), sulfur dioxide (SO(2)), and hydrogen chloride/hydrochloric acid (HCl). It also reviews the negative health impacts of tephra and ash, lava flows, landslides, and mudflows. Finally, future research striving to quantify the health risks facing volcano tourists is recommended.


Reported fatal and non-fatal incidents involving tourists in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 1992-2002.
[Travel Med Infect Dis. 2005 Aug;3(3):123-31. Epub 2004 Nov 11]
Heggie TW.  
Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2261, USA.

Objectives. To examine fatal and non-fatal incidents involving tourists in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Methods. Official press releases from the public relations office at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park were examined for reports of fatal and non-fatal incidents involving tourists. Results. Between 1992 and 2002 there were 65 press releases reporting 40 fatalities, 45 serious injuries, 53 minor injuries, and 25 no injury events. Severity information was unavailable for four additional tourists. Aircraft and backcountry incidents each accounted for 30% of all incidents followed by road incidents (22%) and frontcountry incidents (17%). Aircraft incidents reported 17 fatalities, backcountry incidents accounted for 10 fatalities, frontcountry incidents reported seven fatalities, and road incidents totaled six fatalities. One fatality was classified as a suicide. Backcountry (23) and road (10) incidents had the highest number of serious incidents. Male tourists (62) were more frequently involved in incidents than female tourists (41) and tourists aged 20-29 years and 40-49 years accounted for the highest number of fatalities and total incidents. Conclusions. Helicopter tours, hiking in areas with active lava flows, falls into steam vents and earthcracks, and driving unfamiliar rental cars in unfamiliar locations are the major activities resulting in death and serious injury. Additional factors such as tourists ignoring warning signs, wandering off-trail or hiking at night, tourists misinformed by guidebooks and other tourists, and tourists with pre-existing heart and asthma conditions are contributing causes in many incidents. The findings of this study provide information that allows prospective tourists, tourism managers, and travel health providers make informed decisions that promote safe tourism and can aid future efforts in developing preventative strategies at tourist destinations with similar environments and activities. However, in order for preventative strategies to be most effective, future research using medical or emergency response records and employing an injury epidemiology framework that identifies the cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries is recommended.


Viewing lava safely: an epidemiology of hiker injury and illness in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
[Wilderness Environ Med. 2004 Summer;15(2):77-81]
Heggie TW, Heggie TM.

Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2261, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To report the injuries and illnesses encountered by wilderness hikers in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park attempting to hike to active lava flows and to investigate the roles that demographics, prior hiking experience, hiking behavior, and preparedness play in hiker vulnerability to injury and illness. METHODS: During an 8-week period, daily on-site exit interviews of lava hikers were conducted by a uniformed park ranger and park volunteer. Information about the hiker's home residence, wilderness hiking experience, preparedness, health status, and health problems encountered during the hike was collected from a total of 804 hikers. RESULTS: A high rate of injury and illness was found among the study population. Scrapes and abrasions (59%), blisters (51%), and muscle strains and sprains (47%) were the most common injuries. Dehydration (77%) and respiratory irritation (46%) were the most common illnesses. Lower extremities were the most common site of injuries, and beginning hikers were the most vulnerable to injury and illness. Many hikers were inexperienced tourists willing to disregard warning signs and enter high-risk areas. CONCLUSIONS: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of 22 US national park units with volcanic resources. The injuries and illnesses reported by the study group identify the impact that this type of environment can have on the safety of wilderness users in areas with similar resources. Recreating in remote and severe areas has inherent risks, but the high rate of injuries and illnesses sustained by the hikers of this study can potentially be reduced through the development of more direct risk management methods.



Arenal Tourists Die -  guidelines for visiting
http://www.wildland.com/wildnews/1000002/cos_wildnews.aspx
This story is told as if it happened recently. People are warned about going too close to the small eruptions which often happen. More than a million tourists visit each year.


June 2010 report of Activity at Arenal
ARENAL Costa Rica 10.463N, 84.703W; summit elev. 1670 m

OVSICORI-UNA reported that during June activity originating from Arenal's Crater C consisted of gas emissions, sporadic Strombolian eruptions, and occasional avalanches. Some of the Strombolian eruptions caused glass to vibrate in buildings located 4 km N. A lava flow that began in mid-January remained active on the S flank. Avalanches from edges of the lava flow and from the N and NE crater rim descended multiple flanks. Acid rain and small amounts of ejected pyroclastic material affected the NE, E, and SE flanks. Small explosions of gas and occasionally ash originated from a vent N of Crater C, while Crater D produced only fumarolic activity.

Geologic Summary. Conical Volcan Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1,657-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7,000 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. Arenal's most recent eruptive period began with a major explosive eruption in 1968. Continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows has occurred since then from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.

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Volcano -  Geotourism
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