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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — January 1990

Piton de la Fournaise

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 1 (January 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Nineteen hours of lava fountaining from central crater fissure after 3 months of seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199001-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

[This preliminary report is supplemented by detailed information in 15:2]. An eruption began on 18 January at 1124 from the SE area of the central (Dolomieu) crater and from its upper SE flank. The eruption was preceded by three months of significant seismicity. Vigorous 50-100-m fountaining from roughly NW-SE-trending fractures was observed until about 1500. Activity had completely stopped by 0630 on 19 January.

Geological Summary. 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.

Information Contacts: J. Toutain, P. Taochi, J-L. Cheminée, IPGP; P. Bachelery, Univ de la Réunion.