Baby volcanoes near Agua Zarcas seen as a tourist draw

This is Loma Morera some 120 meters (394 feet) high and just 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) southeast of Agua Zarcas. The deformed volcanic crater can be seen clearly. There is a road to the summit. Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico/Eliecer Duarte González

A field of seven small volcanoes in the vicinity of the community of Agua Zarcas do not appear to be a threat and, instead, could be a tourist draw.

That is the conclusion of a study by experts at the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica who just released a report. The study included an overflight of the 48-square kilometer area.

That’s about 18.5 square miles.

The volcanic field is north and east of Aguas Zarcas, which is in San Carlos, Alajuela. As the name implies, the region is famous for thermal pools.

The volcanoes are nothing like the towering Arenal to the west. Most are tree- and brush-covered low hills,

Most are called by the Spanish word for hill, loma.

One, Loma Morera, still holds the form of a crater. Two other hills have been worked to extract the volcanic material that at one time flowed from the opening in the ground.
The hills were formed by the expulsion of lava and other volcanic material from inside the earth. The researchers concluded that due to the time that has passed and the local geological stability, the volcanoes do not represent a threat to the human neighbors. Five volcanic hills can easily be seen to the north of Agua Zarcas. In other cases, farming and living quarters are close by the hills.

The small community of Pitalito is between two such hills.

This is the only such area in Costa Rica, the report said, although such formations are common in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Spain, the researchers said.

Because they are unique here, the researchers suggested that the ring of volcanic hills could generate tourism in the future. They said that the hills should be conserved for future generations and that a management plan should be devised. Much of the land is in private hands.

Two of the hills show signs of having been quarried for the volcanic materials. The researchers also said that erosion from the rainy climate would affect the hills and that some form of conservation should be considered. Most of the hills are tree-covered.

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