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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — January 1988

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 1 (January 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Strong seismicity then fissure eruption

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198801-233020.

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 total of ~7 x 106 m3 of aphyric basalt was extruded in the 30 November-1 January fissure eruption. Throughout January seismicity was low and limited to rare events under the summit area. Deformation was insignificant. Strong seismicity began again on 4 February, when two deep events occurred E of the central cone. A brief but intense seismic crisis followed on 7 February between 2032 and 2220. Three events of M 2 were registered. An eruption phase began at 2240, as lava flows emerged from three fissures that opened in the S part of Enclos Caldera, close to the recent vents (S of Chateau-Fort Crater) and in the same region as the 1972 vents.

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: H. Delorme, D. Vandamme, and P. Nerbusson, OVPDLF; P. Bachelery, Univ de la Réunion; J-L. Cheminee, J. Dubois, A. Hirn, J. LePine, J. Zlotnicki, and P. Blum, IPGP.