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

Piton de la Fournaise

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 11 (November 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Piton de la Fournaise (France) New fissure eruption follows seismicity and deformation

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198811-233020

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Deformation and a brief seismic swarm preceded a new fissure eruption on 14 December. Lava production from the fissure eruption that began 31 August had stopped on 12 September. Strong degassing continued until early October. Between September and mid-December, the permanent telemetered EDM (5-minute period) recorded 5 cm expansion of the summit crater, associated with fissure extension measured by strainmeters. Radial tiltmeters detected no significant changes. Seismicity remained weak until 12 November, when 25 minutes of low-energy summit seismicity was recorded, without associated deformation. Since then, discrete shallow events had increased in the summit area.

On 14 December at 0830, a seismic crisis began that included both shallow and deeper events in the summit area. Deformation indicated northward magma migration between 0850 and 0910. The seismic crisis continued until 1220, when low-frequency tremor appeared on the summit seismic station (SFR). At 1306 [but see 13:12], an eruptive fissure opened in the N part of the Enclos Caldera, ~400 m E of the August 1985 crater. Three main NNE-trending, en-echelon fissures developed between 1,900 and 2,050 m elevation, and at 1400 a fissure opened just above them.

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