Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 74, Issue 8, pp 1881–1897 | Cite as

Internal structure and building of basaltic shield volcanoes: the example of the Piton de La Fournaise terminal cone (La Réunion)

  • Aline PeltierEmail author
  • Frédérick Massin
  • Patrick Bachèlery
  • Anthony Finizola
Research Article


In April 2007, a caldera collapsed at the Dolomieu summit crater of Piton de La Fournaise (La Réunion Island, Indian Ocean) revealing new outcrops up to 340 m high along the crater walls. The lithostratigraphic interpretation of these new exposures allows us to investigate the most recent building history of a basaltic shield volcano. We present the history of the Piton de La Fournaise terminal cone, from the building of a juvenile cone during which periods of explosive activity dominated, to the most recent effusive period. The changes in eruptive dynamics are the cause of successive summit crater/pit–crater collapses. In April 2007, such an event occurred during rapid emptying of the shallow plumbing system feeding a large effusive lateral eruption. During the most recent effusive period, an eastward migration of the eruptive crater was observed and was linked to the successive destructions of the shallow magma reservoir during each collapse. The resulting changes in the local stress field favor the formation of a new reservoir and thus the migration of activity. Internal structures reveal that the building of the upper part of the terminal cone was predominantly by exogenous growth and that the hydrothermal system is confined at a depth > 350 m. These observations on Piton de La Fournaise provide new insights into construction of the summits of other basaltic shield volcanoes.


Piton de La Fournaise Caldera collapse Basaltic volcanoes Volcano lithostratigraphy Historic records 



Part of this work has been made in the framework of the project “Aléas: Evaluation du risque volcanique à La Réunion et prise en compte dans la gestion de crise (2011–2012)” funded by MEEDEM. The authors thank A. Di Muro, L. Michon, and N. Villeneuve, partners of this project, for fruitful discussions. We are thankful to the two anonymous reviewers, to Paul Gettings, to the associate editor, Agust Gudmundsson, to the executive editor, James White, for the major improvements that have been pointed out. We are grateful to Christian Germanaz, Francois Martel, and Laurent Michon for providing us historical documents. This is IPGP contribution number 3297.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aline Peltier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frédérick Massin
    • 2
  • Patrick Bachèlery
    • 3
    • 4
  • Anthony Finizola
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris et Université Paris Diderot (Sorbonne Paris-Cité)UMR CNRS 7154–Géologie des Systèmes VolcaniquesParis cedex 05France
  2. 2.Department of Geology and GeophysicsSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Laboratoire Magmas et VolcansUMR 6524, CNRS-IRD-Université Blaise Pascal, Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-FerrandClermont-FerrandFrance
  4. 4.Laboratoire GéoSciences Réunion, Université de la Réunion, Institut de Physique du Globe de ParisSorbonne Paris-Cité, CNRS UMR 7154, Géologie des Systèmes VolcaniquesSaint-Denis cedex 9France

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