Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 5 May-11 May 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
5 May-11 May 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 5 May-11 May 2021. 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)
OVPF reported that the eruption at Piton de la Fournaise continued during 4-11 May. Both craters were active, producing lava flows that mainly traveled though lava tubes. Lava emerged from the end of the flow field, advancing E to 1,200 m elevation by 8 May, and setting fire to local vegetation. Minor inflation of the summit area was recorded. Lava fountaining was weak at the smaller vent to the SE and a small lava pond continued to occupy the crater of the larger cone, just NW a higher elevation. Gas plumes rose from both craters, though the plumes from the smaller crater were denser. An 11 May report stated that the larger cone was 35 m tall and 226 m in diameter at its base. The Alert Level remained at 2-2.
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.