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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — July 1983

Piton de la Fournaise

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 7 (July 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) 12-hour earthquake swarm

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198307-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A 12-hour earthquake swarm occurred 15 July at Piton de la Fournaise, the first seismic crisis there since shortly after the 3 February-5 May 1981 eruption, which produced 10 x 106 m3 of lava during three active phases. Since then, background seismicity had been less than 0.5 events/day. The 21 events between 0830 and 2015 on 15 July occurred in the central area at shallow depth but were poorly located because they were recorded on only 1-3 stations, have emergent onsets, and poorly-defined phases. Event durations ranged from 15 to 150 seconds. The seismic crisis prompted the resurvey of deformation networks, but no significant changes were measured.

The Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise noted that for the past 50 years the mean eruption frequency has been one every 12-14 months. The 27 months since the last eruption is one of the longer repose intervals during that period.

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: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPDLF), Réunion.