Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 22 September-28 September 2010
Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 September-28 September 2010
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 September-28 September 2010. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Piton de la Fournaise
21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Starting on 14 August and continuing through 10 September, OVPDLF recorded a slow but steady increase in the number and magnitude of earthquakes from Piton de la Fournaise. Inflation of the summit area began in late August. A report on 13 September noted localized deformation W of Dolomieu crater and a small number of landslides in the crater. On 20 September a significant increase in earthquakes was recorded, although the average magnitude was low. The earthquakes were located at the base of Piton de la Fournaise, W and S of Dolomieu crater. A seismic crisis on 24 September was characterized by several tens of earthquakes located beneath Dolomieu crater, and occurred in conjunction with 3 cm of inflation. The Alert level was raised to 1 ("Probable or Imminent Eruption").
Geological Summary. Piton de la Fournaise is a massive basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean. 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 scarps formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5,000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping, leaving caldera-sized embayments open to the E and SE. Numerous pyroclastic cones are present on the floor of the scarps and their outer flanks. Most recorded eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest scarp, which is about 9 km wide and about 13 km from the western wall to the ocean on the E 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 outside the scarps.