Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 13 October-19 October 2010
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 October-19 October 2010
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 October-19 October 2010. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Piton de la Fournaise
21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
OVPDLF reported that an eruption from Piton de la Fournaise began on 14 October near the Château Fort crater, about 1.5 km SE of the Dolomieu crater rim, after a seismic crisis was detected a few hours before. Lava fountaining occurred from four vents along a fissure. The Alert level was raised to 2 ("eruption in progress in the Fouqué caldera"). By 16 October, lava had traveled 1.6 km ESE, and was confined inside the Fouqué caldera. Lava fountains were 10 m high during 16-17 October and rose from two vents. On 17 October only one vent fed the lava flow. Scientists noted a reduction in tremor, a decrease in the rate of the lava flow, and less intense explosive activity and degassing. On 18 October lava was again ejected from two vents. The next day a hornito formed in the second vent and lava was ejected 5-15 m above a third vent.
Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion 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.