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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — September 2003

Piton de la Fournaise

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 28, no. 9 (September 2003)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Seismic crisis and a new SSW-flank fissure on 30 September

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 28:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200309-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A seismic crisis started at 2225 on 30 September 2003 beneath the SW corner of Dolomieu crater ~ 2 km below the summit. At 2330 eruption tremor appeared and was localized beneath the SSW flank of Piton de la Fournaise. A straight 400-m-long fissure opened at 2,350 m elevation. The eruption tremor reached a maximum at 0100 on 1 October and declined after 0200, disappearing completely at 1300.

Since March 2003, the extensometer network and GPS measurements had indicated inflation of Piton de la Fournaise. A new eruption that began on 30 May within Dolomieu crater proceeded in multiple phases through 7 July, followed by new activity through 27 August (BGVN 28:05, 28:06, and 28:08).

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: Thomas Staudacher, Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/ovpf/observatoire-volcanologique-piton-de-fournaise).