Piton de la Fournaise Volcano | John Seach


Reunion, Indian Ocean

21.22 S, 55.71 E
summit elevation 2631 m
shield volcano

Piton de la Fournaise is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Piton de la Fournaise Volcano is located over the Reunion mantle plume. The volcano is located in the ESE part of Reunion Island. A nested caldera has been created by two large eruptions. The summit consists of two craters, the older Cratere Bory and the active Cratere Dolomieu.

An eruption of the volcano occurs almost every year at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano. Volcanic activity consists of lava emission and small explosions. Ashfall is rarely produced. Pele's hair is sometimes produced.

The caldera of Piton de la Fournaise volcano contains a dense network of radial
and sub-concentric open cracks and eruptive fissures on the summit cone similar to the Galápagos, except on a smaller scale.

2021 Eruption
An eruption began on the south flank of the volcano on 11 April 2021. Fissure eruption with lava fountaining.

2020 Eruption
A fissure eruption on the E flank about 1.7 km from the center of Dolomieu Crater at an elevation of 1,900 m occurred on 2nd April 2020.

2018 Eruption
An eruption began at Piton de la Fournaise volcano at 11 am on 3rd April 2018. Seismic activity began at 6 am. A 1-km long fissure opened up, with lava fountains from two locations.

2015 Eruptions
Eruption at Piton de la Fournaise volcano Reunion. Intensive seismic activity followed by Lava flow on 29 October 2015.
An eruption of Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Reunion began on 4th February 2015. Lava was ejected 10 m high and lava flowed from a fissure on the SW side of the volcano. A renewed fissure eruption occurred at the volcano on 31st July 2015.

2010 Eruption
October. An eruption began at Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Reunion at 7:10 pm (local time) on 14th October 2010. The eruption site was located at an elevation of 2000 m on the southern side of the volcano. The events have accelerated in the early afternoon. The seismic crisis (characterized by numerous earthquakes at the base of the volcano) began at 1:30 p.m. It peaked at about 3 pm. A larger than average earthquake occurred at 2:50 pm, which resulted in collapse of the inner walls of Dolomieu crater. The seismic crisis, which reflects the rise of magma in the volcano edifice, has slowed after 3 pm. According to information provided by the Volcano Observatory, the eruption took place near the site known as "Château-Fort".
January. An eruption began at Piton de la Fournaise volcano on 2nd January 2010. Lava flowed into Dolomieu crater. The eruption lasted 2 days.

2009 Eruption
The short-lived eruption at Piton de la Fournaise volcano was over after a few hours on 5th November 2009. For the first time since 2007, lava has flowed outside the crater. The lava flows were widely visible from the shore of Reunion, and by daybreak yesterday only fumaroles were active. Lava flows were no longer active and there was a gradual decrease in the intensity of volcanic tremor. From 5:30 pm on 5th November earthquakes occurred at a rate of one to two per minute, then at 7:30 pm a seismic crisis lasted for an hour, followed by a pause. Around 9 pm volcanic tremor signalled the start of the eruption. The volcano provided a spectacle with lava flows lighting up the sky and attracting attention motorists between St. Philip and Piton Sainte-Rose. Motorists traveling on the road were the first witnesses the lava flow and raise the alarm at 9:15 pm. They described mostly fountains and lava flows. The eruption consisted of multiple lava flows which moved rapidly down the slope. Two fissures appeared to have opened up on the east side near the summit. The police of Saint-Philippe encouraged motorists to be careful and not to park anywhere to watch the eruption. There were no road closures. Residents heard about the eruption on the radio and started to come, but the crowd was not large due to the time of the night. Between 11:10 and 11:15 pm, volcanic tremor had almost disappeared. Up until 12:30 pm about a hundred people stood at the foot of la rampe du Tremblet in the Grand Brûlé and observed the lava flows. On the morning of 6th November at 6:45 am a police helicopter flew over the area. The reconnaissance flight confirmed that two fractures opened between the south and east of the summit crater Dolomieu, which produced lava flows far from the road. The summary from the volcanologists is as follows: at 20.50, the eruption has started in the south cliff inside Dolomieu crater. At 21.05, the crack was extended and opened on the east-southeast near the crater rim of Dolomieu. At 21h20: a second crack opened on the eastern slope of the summit cone. Two lava flows were visible on the flanks of Piton de la Fournaise. The volcano has been plunged into a relative calm. The situation remains unstable. A second eruption may start at any time warned scientists from the volcano observatory.

On Monday 14th December 2009 a summit eruption began at Piton de la Fournaise volcano on the southern edge of Dolomieu crater at 18:45 (local time). The eruption followed a seismic crisis and a deformation of the summit. Earthquake tremor began at 18:30. The duration of the eruption was six hours, which was one of the shortest in recent decades at the volcano.

2009 Seismic Crisis
A seismic crisis began at Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Reunion Island on Wednesday 14th October 2009. The swarm generated 338 earthquakes with a maximum magnitude of 2.3. The trend of gradual deformation continues, with about 1.5 cm of displacement in two weeks. No change in gas chemistry has been detected. Data analysis suggests the process of magmatic intrusion continues at depth. This significant seismicity has been associated with small deformation of the northern flank of Dolomieu. Small avalanches have occurred inside Dolomieu, particularly towards the end of the seismic crisis. Alert Level 1 remains in place. Public access to the volcano summit, and helicopter landing on the volcano are prohibited.
The frequency and intensity of seismicity are gradually increasing at Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Reunion. The trend of gradual deformation of the volcano continues, particularly on the north side of Dolomieu and near Soufriere. On Friday 16th October the seismic network recorded one earthquake every seventy seconds, with a maximum magnitude of 3. This is a remarkable intensity for Piton de la Fournaise volcano where earthquakes rarely exceed magnitude 2. The earthquakes are currently located at a depth of 2000 m, which indicates magma has not yet reached the surface. The pre-eruptive pattern of Piton de la Fournaise volcano is marked by several seismic crises, punctuated by periods of rest. There has been no change in the chemical composition of gas at the volcano. Alert level 1 (eruption imminent or likely) remains since 7th October after the first seismic crisis, and access to the volcano summit is prohibited.

2008 Eruption
An eruption began at Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Sunday 21st September 2008. A small lava pond formed in the bottom of Dolomieu crater fed by a fissure on the west side. The eruption was accompanied by ten earthquakes. High levels of sulphur dioxide have been reported at the volcano. This is the first eruption of Piton de la Fournaise volcano since the large eruption in April 2007, which was called the "eruption of the century." 

2007 Eruption
In April 2007 a caldera collapse occurred at the volcano. The collapse displacing 0.8 x 1.1 km floor downward by 330 m, with a volume of 120 million cubic meters. The caldera collapse accompanied one of the largest eruptions of lava at the volcano in the past 100 years.

2006 Eruption
An eruption began at the volcano on 20 July 2006. A fissure opened between 2,380 m and 2,250 m elevation on the SW flank. Lava flowed E of Rivals crater. On 30th August 2006 an eruption began at the summit crater, Dolomieu. A fissure opened on the SSE crater floor, followed by a second vent 100 m SE on 9th October.

Further reading
Peltier, A., Bachèlery, P. and Staudacher, T., 2009. Magma transport and storage at Piton de La Fournaise (La Réunion) between 1972 and 2007: A review of geophysical and geochemical data. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research184(1-2), pp.93-108.

Albarède, F., Luais, B., Fitton, G., Semet, M., Kaminski, E., Upton, B.G.J., Bachelery, P. and Cheminée, J.L., 1997. The geochemical regimes of Piton de la Fournaise volcano (Réunion) during the last 530 000 years. Journal of Petrology38(2), pp.171-201.

Gillot, P.Y. and Nativel, P., 1989. Eruptive history of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Réunion island, Indian Ocean. Journal of volcanology and geothermal research36(1-3), pp.53-65.

Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Eruptions

2021-22, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006-07, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1985-88, 1983-84, 1981, 1979, 1977, 1977, 1976, 1975-76, 1973, 1973, 1972, 1966, 1964-65, 1964, 1963, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1958, 1957, 1955-57, 1954, 1953, 1952, 1951, 1951?, 1950, 1950, 1949?, 1948, 1947?, 1946, 1945, 1944, 1943, 1942, 1941?, 1938-39, 1938, 1937, 1936, 1935?, 1933-34, 1932, 1931, 1930, 1929, 1926-27, 1925-26, 1924, 1924, 1921, 1920, 1917, 1915, 1913, 1910, 1909, 1908?, 1907, 1905, 1904, 1903?, 1902, 1901, 1901, 1900, 1899, 1898, 1898, 1897, 1894, 1890-91, 1889, 1884, 1882?, 1878, 1876, 1875, 1874, 1874, 1872?, 1871, 1870?, 1869?, 1868, 1865, 1863-64, 1861, 1860, 1859, 1858-59, 1852, 1851, 1850, 1849, 1848, 1847, 1846, 1845, 1844, 1844, 1843, 1842, 1832, 1830, 1824, 1824, 1821, 1820, 1817, 1816, 1815, 1815, 1814, 1813, 1812, 1810, 1809, 1807, 1802, 1801-02, 1800, 1797?, 1795, 1794, 1792, 1791, 1789, 1787, 1786, 1784-85, 1776, 1775, 1774, 1772, 1771, 1768, 1766, 1760, 1759, 1753, 1751, 1734, 1734, 1733?, 1721, 1709, 1708, 1703, 1672, 1671, 1669, 1649, 1640.