Saturday, 24 September 2016

September 2016 volcano eruption

The Piton de la Fournaise eruption that took place from September 11th-18th was very image-friendly: weather was generally good, and it was visible from Piton de Partage or Pas de Bellecombe. So local photographers were able to shoot a wide range of photos and films, some of the best of which are below. (I took my own pictures when I visited on September 16th/17th, but they're not as good as these!)

© Gaby Barathieu

© Gaby Barathieu

© Gaby Barathieu

The night of September 16th coincided with a full moon.

© Luc Perrot

Reminiscent of Mordor ? © Luc Perrot

This satellite photo was taken on 11th September by the 
Landsat 8 (USGS/NASA Landsat) satellite

© Le Redac

Alain LeRedac also filmed this video:

Quand le soleil a rendez-vous avec le Piton de la Fournaise from @LeRedac from Reunion Island on Vimeo.

© Dronecopter Jonathan Payet

September 17th at 1:30am © Dronecopter Jonathan Payet

Jonathan Payet recently won 3rd Prize in the Nature & Wildlife Category of National Geographic's 2016 International Drone Photography Contest with this picture taken during the brief eruption that took place in May 2016.

© Dronecopter Jonathan Payet


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Recent Piton de la Fournaise eruptions

The Fournaise is one of the world's most active volcanoes - in the twentieth century for example it erupted 72 times - that's once every 16 months on average. Below is a list of its recent eruptions (since 1998).

Eruption of Piton de la Fournaise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before the eruption in 1998 which lasted six months there hadn't been one since 1992. Altogether there have been 300 recorded eruptions since the island was inhabited in the mid-17th century (and probably a few more that went unrecorded in my opinion).

Start Date: 2016 September 11 - Stop Date: 2016 September 18

Start Date: 2016 May 26 - Stop Date: 2016 May 27 

Start Date: 2015 August 24 - Stop Date: 2015 October 31 

Start Date: 2015 July 31 - Stop Date: 2015 August 2 

Start Date: 2015 May 17 - Stop Date: 2015 May 30

Start Date: 2015 February 4 - Stop Date: 2015 February 16

Start Date: 2014 June 21  - Stop Date: 2014 June 22 

Start Date: 2010 October 14 - Stop Date: 2010 December 10

Start Date: 2009 November 5 - Stop Date: 2010 January 12

Start Date: 2008 September 21 - Stop Date: 2009 February 4

Start Date: 2006 July 20 - Stop Date: 2007 May 1

Start Date: 2005 October 4 - Stop Date: 2006 January 18

Start Date: 2005 February 17 - Stop Date: 2005 February 26

Français : Contact entre la lave et l'océan. U...
Piton de la fournaise eruption, lava reaches sea 26 Feb 2005
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Start Date: 2004 May 2 - Stop Date: 2004 October 16

 Piton de la Fournaise eruption, 2004 © Serge Leplege

Fournaise eruption reaches the sea, August 2004 © Serge Leplege

Start Date: 2003 May 30 - Stop Date: 2004 January 10

Start Date: 2002 November 16 - Stop Date: 2002 December 3

Start Date: 2002 January 5 - Stop Date: 2002 January 16

Start Date: 2001 June 11 - Stop Date: 2001 July 7

Start Date: 2001 March 27 - Stop Date: 2001 April 4

Start Date: 2000 June 23 - Stop Date: 2000 November 13

Piton de la Fournaise eruption November 2000 © Serge Leplege 

Start Date: 2000 February 14 - Stop Date: 2000 March 4

Start Date: 1999 July 19 - Stop Date: 1999 October 23

Start Date: 1998 March 9 - Stop Date: 1998 September 20 (?)

Source : Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution which lists all known eruptions for the Fournaise.

See also Reunion Island Geological Information Center for up-to-the minute volcano information in English and live webcams.

Follow this link for my photos of the January 2002 eruption.

English: Eruption of Piton de la Fournaise, la...
Eruption of Piton de la Fournaise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Saturday, 3 September 2016

'Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse on Reunion

On 1st September in Reunion we experienced a 'ring of fire' annular solar eclipse, when the shadow of the moon crossed the Earth.

© Zamir Popat Photography

The shadow's central path was 13,400 km long, but only about 100 kilometres wide at maximum eclipse, and on Reunion we were just slightly north of the eclipse centreline. 

The path of the eclipse crossed central Africa & north Madagascar

Fred Espenak

My own photos are useless, but here's a round-up of some of the best photos, time-lapses and videos of the occasion. (Note that the sky wasn't extremely dark, but filters were needed in order to photograph the sun, which gives the impression of a black sky).

Woman looking through telescope at St Louis, where a viewing centre
had been set up. Photo: Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images

People look through eclipse viewing glasses, telescopes or cameras in St-Louis. 

This photograph of the partial phase by Stephane Moser was chosen as NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on 3rd September 2016.

Image Credit & Copyright: Stephane Moser

from Etang Salé forest
© Dronecopters - Jonathan Payet 

Time-lapse © Luc Perrot

Time-lapse © Frog 974

Time-lapse photo © Slooh

© Alan Le Redac

A combination of pictures shows the beginning to the end
(top L to bottom R) seen from a beach. 
© Reuters 


Palm tree leaf during the eclipse © Olivier Payet aka Tofruokal

The event was also widely talked about in the world's press. Although it was visible in parts of Africa and across Madagascar, most press pictures come from Reunion.

You might also like:

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Podcasts about Reunion

If you live in Reunion you may have heard about, a language-learning concept and website created by my dynamic duo of compatriots, Richard Thom and James Christie. As well as proposing English language training online (free and paid versions) there's also a weekly podcast

Every Thursday a native speaker of English talks about their experiences and adventures on Reunion. From tasting fried wasp larvae in Ste Rose to getting hypothermia in Salazie, every story is fun and full of surprises, lasting no more than 5 minutes. There are two speeds to choose from: normal and slow. You can also read the text while you listen, and there is even a list of the difficult words translated into French. It's free and you can of course listen as many times as you want. Recent episodes even have a video version where you can watch the podcaster record their story and see a real-time translation of the difficult words on screen. At the time of writing this blog post they're now up to 104 episodes, and the 64,000 plays make them Reunion's most listened-to podcast! 

Although I'm not a English teacher I recently recorded two podcasts: the first about life as a translator in Reunion Island:

and the second about the struggles of getting a decent cup of tea in Reunion when you're a tea aficionado like I am.

P.S. For more about my visits to tea plantations and sampling of locally-produced tea around the world see the post My ABC of travelling.

Useful links:

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Grand Étang

Grand Étang (which means 'Big Pond') is Reunion's only high altitude volcanic lake and its largest inland body of water, with an area covering 50 hectares (123 acres).

Grand Etang, looking east

Located in the district of Saint-Benoît, it lies at an altitude of 525 metres at the bottom of an almost vertical ridge separating it from the Rivière des Marsouins valley.

looking west

You can walk or ride a horse around the lake, or just pic-nic there. The walk is about 4 km long, more if you take a detour to visit the waterfalls to the west. It's pretty easy but can be muddy depending on the time of year.

waterfalls, Grand Etang

looking west from the start of the walk

on the north shore looking west

path from carpark to lake

Grand Etang is part of a larger site that has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports a colony of Audubon's shearwaters (with 300 breeding pairs), as well as populations of Réunion harriers, Mascarene swiftlets, Mascarene paradise flycatchers, Réunion bulbuls, Mascarene white-eyes, Réunion olive white-eyes and Réunion stonechats.

Reunion stonechat at Grand Etang (known locally as a tec-tec)

One plant I've only ever seen growing at Grand Etang and nowhere else is wild Job's-tears. The plant bears hard, pearly-white oval beads that can be used for making necklaces, rosaries and other objects.

Job's tears

close-up of Job's tears

Fed essentially by rainfall and runoff, the water level is very variable.

The water can reach up to 10 metres depth, but on the day we visited it was less than 1.9 metres deep at this measuring stick near the shore.

depth measurement instrument

My husband remembers seeing pictures of Grand Etang after Cyclone Hyacinthe ("the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the world") in 1980 when the level of the water was so high it was more or less touching the electrical cables strung across the lake.

Some links (in French)