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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — May 1979

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 5 (May 1979)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Small lava eruption, lasting less than 1 day

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1979. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 4:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN197905-233020.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A small eruption began during the evening of 28 May and ended about noon the next day. A 100-m-long fissure opened ~1.5 km SE of Cratère Dolomieu, extruding a lava flow 150 m in length (figure 5). Three spatter cones formed on the fissure.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Map of the caldera of Piton de la Fournaise from Krafft and Gerente (1977). The approximate site of the May 1979 activity is indicated by an X.

Geologic Background. 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: M. Krafft, Cernay.