Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — May 1977
Natural Science Event Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 5 (May 1977)
Managing Editor: David Squires.
Piton de la Fournaise (France) Lava extrusion ends, but one flow moved through a village
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1977. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (Squires, D., ed.). Natural Science Event Bulletin, 2:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.NSEB197705-233020.
Piton de la Fournaise
21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The eruption ended about noon on 16 April with the cessation of lava extrusion from the fissure above Piton Sainte Rose (figure 1). Maurice Krafft reports that the lava described last month as flowing towards the sea on 11 April was a small flow (11 B on figure 1) originating from a fissure in the caldera wall (Rempart de Bois Blanc) and that the extrusion of a flow from the NE quarter of the caldera on 13 April is "very contested now."
Further References. Bout, P., 1979, Observations sur les Coulees de Basalte (Oceanites) des eruptions des 9-17 Avril 1977 de Piton Sainte-Rose (Réunion): 4ème Colloque de Geomorphologie Volcaniques: Problemes du Volcanisme Explosif: Clermont-Ferrand, Univ., Fac. Lett. Inst. Geogr., v. 57, p. 47-52.
Kieffer, G., Tricot, B., and Vincent, P.M., 1977, Une eruption inhabituelle (Avril 1977) du Piton de la Fournaise (Ile de la Réunion): Ses Enseignements Volcanologiques et Structuraux: C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, serie D, v. 285, p. 957-960.
Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion 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: M. Krafft, Ensisheim.