In 1984, we took part in an expedition to measure the temperature field and bathymetry of the acid lake (Figure 1) that has formed in the crater of Poás volcano, Costa Rica, since its last eruption in 1953. Obtaining these data was the first step in a long-range study planned by researchers at the Center for Geophysical Research, University of Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica), and the College of Oceanography, Oregon State University (Corvallis). The study will eventually consider all aspects of fluid behavior in a volcanic lake that is heated or otherwise convectively driven by energy injected at the lake bottom.
Evidence of convection is clearly visible on the surface of the Poás lake most of the time. Fumarole activity has been continuous since 1953. Phreatic explosions are quite frequent, varying from weak to strong, and the height of the ejected column varies from 1 to more than 500 m. One immediately useful result of the research would be an estimate of the heat transfer from sources within the conduit to the overlying water column. As far as geophysical fluid behavior goes, we are interested in the turbulent and diffusive processes by which heat and chemical species are transferred. We are especially interested in the impact on the density stratification of the density changes that occur as particulates settle downward through the fluid column. The stratification would otherwise be controlled by the turbulent and diffusive processes driven by thermochemical factors.