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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — January 2007

Piton de la Fournaise

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 32, no. 1 (January 2007)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Extruding lava flows during 28 July-14 August 2006

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2007. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 32:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200701-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

This report extends reporting of the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) and covers the period from 28 July 2006 to 22 February 2007.

At 0400 on [20 July] a tremor recorded by the Bory seismic station was interpreted as the start of an eruption. Subsequent observation noted a fissure had opened between 2,380 m and 2,250 m elevation on the SW flank. A lava flow went down E of Rivals crater. At 0540 a second 50-m long fissure opened at the 2,150 m elevation on the S flank between Rivals crater and "Ch?teau Fort" that began building a small cone, and producing a 2-km-long lava flow.

Fifteen days after the initial eruption began on 20 July, activity at the cone which was slowly developing at 2,150 m elevation on the S flank almost ceased; however it continued to emit a visible plume and the OVPF reported "a considerable" degasification. The eruption, which had started on 20 July, stopped at 2300 local time on 14 August. The total lava output was estimated to be 2-3 x 106 m3.

On 30 August, a small seismic event occurred at 1000 hours, and a summit eruption started from the SSE edge of Dolomieu Crater at 1135. A fissure opened on the crater floor, and a large portion of the crater floor was covered with lava by the afternoon. A second fissure opened just outside of the crater and produced a lava flow on the E flank. On 9 Oct, a second vent, formed about 100 m SW of the first one, which was still active.

The eruption continued through the middle of October, within the Dolomieu Crater. A new cone about 20-25 m high was formed in the SE part of Dolomieu, and lava flows up to 10 m thick filled up 75% of the crater floor. The E part of the crater was filled up to the rim and lava flowed over and down the flank for hundreds of meters.

Between 25-26 November a hornito grew in the center of Dolomieu crater. After 27 November, a new overflow of the Dolomieu crater started and a 4 to 5 m diameter lava tube drained lava to the Piton de la Fournaise east flank and fed a ~ 2.5 km long lava flow that passed south of crater Jean, but did not reach the "Grandes Pentes."

As of 14 December, OVPF reported that the eruption, which had started on August 30, was continuing (then 3.5 months). A second 25-m-high crater, named Piton Moinama, formed within Dolomieu about 100 m SSW of the first crater, Piton Wouandzani. Abundant lava flows totally covered Dolomieu crater floor again with a 10-30 m deep and reached the eastern border of the crater. Several small lava flows overflowed the rim but never reached more than 100-200 m long.

On 22 December, tremor signals increased, and a third eruptive vent opened on the evening of 27 December between Piton Wouandzani and the Piton Moinama. On 2 January 2007 OVPDLF reported that the eruption of Piton de la Fournaise that began on 30 August 2006 was believed to have ceased on 1 January.

On 18 February, after a "seismic event" that began at 1611, and which lasted only a few minutes, the summit inclinometers indicated strong inflation. A new eruptive phase began at 1638 that afternoon. The exact location of the eruption was not determined; however, the signals recorded at the observatory most probably place it at the summit. The cessation of volcanic tremor the next day at 0155 marked the end of the eruption. A fissure that crossed Dolomieu crater from the west was seen during an aerial observation on 18 February.

On 19 February, seven small (M 0.7) seismic tremors were recorded at the summit. On 22 February, a fissure was observed halfway up the E side of the summit cone.

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: Thomas Staudacher, Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/ovpf/observatoire-volcanologique-piton-de-fournaise); Serge Gélabert, 85, rue juliette Dodu, 97400 Saint-Denis, Ile de La Réunion, France.