Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — March 1981
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.
Piton de la Fournaise (France) Lava from new vents
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198103-233020
Piton de la Fournaise
21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The activity SW of the summit that began 26 February continued until 25-26 March. A new eruption on 1 April was preceded by a swarm of local earthquakes, starting at 1923. The seismographs at Réunion's volcano observatory registered 72 discrete events in the next few hours, before the onset of harmonic tremor and the start of an eruption at 2141. Observatory personnel reported that lava extruded from a vent in the north-central area of the caldera, 3 km ENE of the summit, flowed toward the N caldera wall, reaching it during the night. By the early afternoon of 2 April, the flow front was 1 km W of the coast highway [but see 6:4], but the lava's rate of advance had slowed considerably.
Geological Summary. Piton de la Fournaise is a massive basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion 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. LeMouel and J-L. Cheminée, IPG, Paris.