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

Piton de la Fournaise

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 7 (July 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Minor lava production; deflation stops

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198807-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The N-flank fissure eruption was continuing at a low level on 26 July. Occasional tephra ejections stopped 1 July but degassed lava remained in Durandal crater to roughly 15-20 m below the rim. Lava drained directly into tubes and surfaced in the Plaine des Osmondes, > 1 km downslope. Little change in lava flow volume has occurred since 10 June. Harmonic tremor continued at a low level except at Soufrière station, just NE of the summit, where continuous NE-flank deflation had been recorded by tilt stations since the eruption's onset. Deflation progressively decreased before stopping on 12 July. Average rates were 8 µrads/day 18-24 May, 3.5 µrads/day 25 May-3 June, and 1.7 µrads/day after 4 June. There were no significant changes in the magnetic data.

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, D. Vandamme, P. Nerbusson, J. Delmond, and P. Taochi, OVPDLF; J. Dubois, J-L. Cheminée, A. Hirn, P. Blum, and J. Zlotnicki, IPGP ; P. Bachelery, Univ de la Réunion.