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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. Piton de la Fournaise is a massive basaltic shield volcano on the French island of RĂ©union 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.

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