The Sciences

Signs pointing towards a new eruption at Piton de la Fournaise

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiSep 24, 2010 7:03 AM

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Here at the end of busy week, we have some news that Eruptions readers have been following on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Piton de la Fournaise, the active shield volcano on the island, is showing signs that it is likely going to erupt sometime soon. The volcano has already had an eruptive episode at the end of last year and the beginning of 2010, and just like before those eruptions, the volcano is experiencing high levels of seismicity (french). This has prompted local officials to raise the alert status (french) near Piton de la Fournaise (possibly my favorite name of a volcano) and restrict access to the volcano. There has also been significant deformation (french) noted on the volcanic edifice, suggesting that magma is rising up into the volcano. John Seach's Volcano Live website had this update:

A seismic crisis occurred at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano, Reunion on the evening of 23rd September. Several tens of earthquakes were located at the base of the summit area, in Dolomieu crater. The seismic crisis was associated with significant inflation (3 cm) of the volcano, especially near the summit. The data indicates that magma has moved towards the surface and an eruption is imminent.

Eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise are quite common - and can be quite the spectacle as well. They are commonly lava flows from fissure vents on the large shield edifice with some fire fountains as well - typical behavior for a Hawaiian-style eruption.

UPDATE: I meant to post this but forgot: Piton de la Fournaise webcam! There are also some live, updating images on the IPGP website for Reunion (french)

{Hat tip to all the Eruptions readers who provided links for this post.}

Top left: A 2007 lava flow from Piton de la Fournaise reaching the ocean. Note the active lava channel is only a fraction of the flow field, suggesting the lava flow meanders like a river before defining a clear flow channel.

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