New eruption at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano in (La Réunion, France), Indian Ocean

New eruption of Piton de la Fournaise volcano this morning (image: OVPF/IPGP)

A new eruption started at the volcano this morning. At around 2.28 am local time, the seismic network of the observatory detected a seismic crisis, typical sign of magma pushing its way towards the surface. Other instruments detected rapid local ground deformation, another tell-tale sign of an impending eruption.

At around 4.40 am, volcanic tremor was recorded by the instruments, reflecting now a continuous flow of magma towards the surface. The first lava probably came out shortly after, at around 4.50-4.55 am. 3 fissures opened at altitude between 2190 and 2300 m on the southwestern flank of the summit cone and started to erupt small lava fountains, about 15 m tall, from a chain of vents.

The eruption has been producing multiple lava flows that started to descend slowly on the flanks. By the time of first visual observations made by scientists on an aerial survey a few hours later, the most advanced lava flow front had descended to 2120 m altitude. Given this rather low rate of advance and low height of lava fountains, the discharge rate of this eruption seems rather low compared to most previous eruptions of Piton de la Fournaise.

Today’s eruption marks the third of the volcano in 2020, after eruptions in February and April this year. It followed a period of frequent seismic unrest, last detected during the morning of 4 Dec. These preceding periods likely reflect intrusions and the recharging of shallow magma reservoirs, events that often build up to eruptions like the current one. Piton de la Fournaise is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and typically erupts several times each year.

Courtesy of

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