Saturday, 17 November 2007

April 2007 volcano eruption lava flows

Here a few photos from the lava flows of the April 2007 volcano eruption which we visited two days ago.

Reunion's volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, is one of the most active in the world (see here for a list of recent eruptions), erupting on average every year.

It's surrounded by the horseshoe-shaped Enclos Fouqué caldera, which is 9km (5.5 miles) wide and 13 km (8 miles) long.

Eruption map - thick red lines (right) indicate lava flows (source)

looking uphill

The eruption lasted for 29 days, starting at 10am at 600 metres altitude on April 2nd and lasting until May 1st.

Luckily for Reunion, la Fournaise's eruptions are of the Hawaiian type, meaning that they are relatively 'calm' (no explosions).

looking across the main road and lava field to the sea

This eruption was unusual in that liquid lava reached the sea only 12 hours after the start of the eruption. This of course cut off the island ring road.

looking towards the south edge of the Enclos (notice the burnt trees)

looking uphill, south edge of the Enclos on the left of the photo 

Vast quantities of lava were emitted, estimated at 120 million m3 for the month the eruption lasted, and lava spouts reached more than 100 metres high.

looking north from the observation platform

It was an unusually powerful eruption, the like of which had probably never been seen since Réunion was inhabited. But given that the Fournaise is 500 000 years old, there have probably been similar eruptions in its past.

In any case six months later, you can still feel the heat emanating from the lava. (Update - still true in September 2012!).

Useful link:
This web page about the eruption is in French, but the photos speak for themselves.

April 2007 eruption, photo by Serge Gelabert

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