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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — November 1985

Piton de la Fournaise

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 11 (November 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Earthquake swarm then fissure eruption

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198511-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Seismic activity was very low during all of November and was at shallow depth (1-2 km) under the summit. Small deformation was measured only on the summit stations. Continuously-recording tiltmeters indicated progressive deformation on Bory Crater since 28 November.

"During the night of 1-2 December, a very short seismic crisis occurred. For 17 minutes, very shallow low-magnitude events occurred under Dolomieu crater at depths of 0.5-1.5 km. A 1.5-km fissure opened from the top of Bory crater down to the S flank of the central cone. This eruption lasted only 28 hours, from 2 December at 0215 to 3 December at 0600. The amount of basaltic lava emitted was very small.

"A major inflation pattern was recorded only on the summit stations. No deformation was found in the rest of the geodimeter net."

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: H. Delorme and J. Delarue, OVPDLF; P. Bachelery, Univ. de la Réunion.