Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France) — 24 December-30 December 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
24 December-30 December 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Piton de la Fournaise (France). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 December-30 December 2008. 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 during 22-28 December lava from Piton de la Fournaise continued to issue from an active vent in the N part of Dolomieu crater, beneath "La Soufrière" and about 200 m below the crater rim. Gas plumes often reduced visibility. On 24 December, a small cone formed at the vent and occasionally produced lava fountains. During 27-28 December ten active channels were visible on the inner flanks of the crater. On 29 December, no lava was visible at the cone and lava flows were not apparent. The crater was sometimes filled with bluish gas during 29-30 December.
Geological Summary. 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.