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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 14 October-20 October 2009

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 October-20 October 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 October-20 October 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (14 October-20 October 2009)


Piton de la Fournaise

France

21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


On 14 October, OVPDLF reported a seismic crisis from Piton de la Fournaise, with seismicity indicating deformation on the N side of Dolomieu crater and rockfalls within the crater. During 15-17 October, deformation and rockfalls continued to be detected. On 18 October, another seismic crisis was noted along with deformation on the N and S sides of Dolomieu crater. Aerial observations on 19 October revealed a small new fumarole in the crater. Changes in the chemical composition of the gases were also noted. A greater number and duration of rockfalls than in previous days was detected on 20 October.

Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of RĂ©union in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Source: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF)