TCM: Dr. Bormann on Volcanic Central America

I was not sure what to expect from Dr. Bormann when he offered to do a pair of presentations for our meetings. Today he established that he is both knowledgeable and does an excellent job of presenting his experience. Those in the almost full room had a clean explanation of the reasons for both earthquake and volcanic activity in Central America.

In simple terms there is a geologic plate under the Pacific that is expanding at about ten centimeters a year and pushing down under the continent. As it pushes and meets resistance the earth moves under our feet with small earthquakes off the coast. The more we feel the earth quakes the more stress is relieved and the lower the probability of a big quake. Dr Bormann spent minutes on the shifting plates He spent almost an hour on the volcanoes that are produced as the plate is pushed deep below the land mass and liquify under pressure. That liquid magma of melted Pacific ocean floor is what is vented through Central America’s string of active volcanes.

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Dr Bormann spent most of his discussion on Nicaragua, which has numerous active and dormant volcanoes. Panama has only two volcanoes, the “dead” volcano under El Valle de Anton, that community is in the caldera of an extinct volcano and the slumbering Baru just above Boquete and Volcan.

After the presentation many people asked about Baru and Dr. Bormann said with great candor, no one knows when it will wake from it’s slumber and how violent the awakening might be. In 2007 the University of Panama and US Geological Survey did a study of our sleeping giant. Iff you are interested in reading it this is a link to the downloadable PDF file.

Should you be fleeing from the possibility of an eruption, in the opinion of Dr Bormann, no; he suggests sticking around and taking good photographs. I agree, if we fled from any possibility of natural destruction we would find few places safe for shelter. However if Baru does start steaming it might a time to consider the nice new four lane road to David.


  1. Thank you for such great info. Don’t always get to the Tuesday meetings and this keeps us abreast on what is happening. We appreciate it, Lee.

  2. There are actually 3 volcanoes in panama http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_volcanoes_in_Panama

    Beautiful picture, btw.

  3. Proves how much I still need to learn about Panama; thank you.

  4. Yes he was very excited and that was exciting. Fascinating presentation.

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