The Sciences

Time-lapse video of yesterday's fissure eruption at Piton de la Fournaise

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiDec 15, 2009 8:49 AM


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Piton de la Fournaise erupting on December 14, 2009. Image courtesy of the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise.

A while back I reported on a brief eruption at Piton de la Fournaise on Reunion Island and now a number of Eruptions readers have pointed out to me that it has erupted again (french). Seems like a similar event to the previous, with fissure vent effusive flows on the southern and eastern slopes of the shield volcano.

Here is the report from Guillaume Levieux of the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise:

Piton de la Fournaise volcano erupted Monday, December 14, 2009 at 18:45 (local time GMT +4). The eruption was preceded by a seismic crisis and a raise of the summit area deformations, which started at 17:30 (GMT +4). The eruptive tremor began at 18:30 (GMT+4).

A system of sub-parallel fractures along the summit of Dolomieu crater fed lava flows on the southern slope of the Piton de la Fournaise, inside the Enclos Fouqué. A second fissures system opened on the eastern flank of the Dolomieu summit crater at 20:25 (GMT +4). Then lava flows were spent towards the eastern slope.

This eruption ended during the night at 00h40 (GMT +4) after a gradual decrease in magma supply from midnight (local time). This morning, Tuesday, December 15, 2009, a visible degassing in the south and southeast fractures is associated with a low intensity eruptive tremor. All of the lava flows was confined to high zone of the volcano and more specifically the slopes south and south-east of Piton de la Fournaise.

You can find out more info on the IPGP website, which includes an incredibly cool time-lapse video of the eruption as it occurred. The fissure opens with fountaining that then sends lava flows down the slopes of Piton de la Fournaise. It is one of the better videos I've seen that show that Hawaiian-style eruption stages of fountaining followed by flows as the presumed dike erupts along the fissure.

{Hat tip to Boris Behncke for the link to the video}.

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