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Arenal Volcano is a small (~1750 m above sea level, ~10 km3) stratovolcano that continuously erupted between July 1968 and October 2010. During this long-lasting eruption (over 42 yr), a large volume of material—~5.6 × 108 m3 of dense rock equivalent—has been extruded and has produced a thick and extended lava field, mainly on the western flank of the edifice. Measurements of ground deformation obtained using a network of dry-tilt stations are presented for the period 1986–2000. They show a continuous subsidence of the volcano with maximal amplitude on the western side. The load effect of the lava field is calculated and explains the largest part of the observed tilts. Once the data are corrected by this load effect, pressure source models are not supported by the observations and by quality criteria on the models. Although the dry-tilt data from Arenal Volcano give limited constraints on the deformation models, they are representative of a long period of activity that cannot be recovered by other means. Moreover, the corresponding interpretative model is consistent with results obtained by geotechnical studies and modern ground deformation methods like interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR).

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