Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 13 November-19 November 2002
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
13 November-19 November 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, 13 November-19 November 2002. 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)
After 3 months of high seismicity at Piton de la Fournaise and three small seismic crises, a strong seismic crisis with several hundreds of earthquakes started on 15 November at 2336. The earthquakes were accompanied by large deformation at the summit of up to 300 microradians. An eruption began on the 16th at 0433 with the appearance of eruption tremor on the volcano's E flank around 1,900 m-elevation. Fissures opened on the volcano's E flank between elevations of 1,900 and 1,600 m and lava flowed down the E flank. A small cone formed on one of the most active fissures around 1,600 m elevation.
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.