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Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 9 January-15 January 2002

Piton de la Fournaise

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
9 January-15 January 2002
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 January-15 January 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (9 January-15 January 2002)

Piton de la Fournaise


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The eruption that began at Piton de la Fournaise on 5 January, continued through 15 January. There was a decrease in tremor during 7-11 January, with as few as 8 small earthquakes recorded per day at about 1-km depth. On 12 January tremor increased by a factor of two in comparison to the previous day and earthquakes were recorded about 4 km beneath the Plaine des Osmondes, near the N caldera wall. During the evening of 12 January, a new fissure opened at the base of the rampart in the lower part of the Plaine des Osmondes. Lava flowed from the fissure down into the Grand Brûlé close to the northern rampart. On 14 January lava flowed across the National Highway on its way to the ocean, entering it at 1540. By 15 January tremor was stable and about 100 earthquakes were recorded over a 24-hour period on the N side of the volcano. At 0600 a swarm of low-frequency earthquakes began near Bois-Blanc, a village on the island's E coast, NE of Plaine des Osmondes.

Geological Summary. Piton de la Fournaise is a massive basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean. 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 scarps formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5,000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping, leaving caldera-sized embayments open to the E and SE. Numerous pyroclastic cones are present on the floor of the scarps and their outer flanks. Most recorded eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest scarp, which is about 9 km wide and about 13 km from the western wall to the ocean on the E 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 outside the scarps.

Sources: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF), Clicanoo - Le Journal de l'Ile de la Reunion