Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 27 October-2 November 2010
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 October-2 November 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, 27 October-2 November 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 that began on 14 October from a fissure near the Château Fort crater, about 1.5 km SE of the Dolomieu crater rim, continued during 27-30 October. On 27 October steam plumes rose from the main vent (Cone 3) and lava flows were active. A sudden increase in tremor intensity was detected. The next day material was ejected from Cone 3, along with gas and steam. A small lava lake was observed in the cone, and lava flows continued to be active on the field. Tremor slightly decreased, and then significantly decreased on 29-30 October. No further tremor was recorded on 31 October and OVPDLF stated that the eruption had stopped.
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.