Piton de la Fournaise Facts
- This magnificent creation of geological forces is best known throughout the world by the French language name of Pition de la Fournaise. Local residents sometimes also refer to this natural marvel simply by the short but descriptive term of le Volcan.
- Regardless of the moniker one applies to it, though, it stands out from others of its type due to its present nature. That holds true due to the fact that it’s highly active. In fact, it currently ranks as one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.
- This ranking actually places it with the likes of Mount Erebus, Stromboli, Mt. Etna, and Kilauea. Thus, while magnificent, it nevertheless remains an extremely hazardous location. Despite this, though, it’s become an extremely popular tourist destination.
- Local officials take every precaution possible with the safety of local population and tourists alike. To than end, the volcano continues to be closely monitored at all times by numerous instruments. This provides for some warning of impending eruptions.
- The most recent eruption of Piton de la Fournaise occurred on December 7, 2020. The aforementioned monitoring of the site, however, provided warning to local officials. That prompted the closing of the site to visitors prior to that eruption.
- In an ironic twist, this marvelous yet dangerous site sits within a National Park. Itself a World Heritage Site, it bears the name of the Réunion National Park .This serves as the principal reason for the extreme diligence of the authorities in observing its activities.
Piton de la Fournaise Physical Description
It bears noting that the breathtaking Piton de la Fournaise, cannot be compared with your typical volcano. That’s because its gigantic caldera boasts some truly impressive dimensions. More precisely, it has an astonishing diameter measuring roughly 5 mi (8 km).
In case this does not impress the reader, however, Nature did not simply stop there. That’s true since it also boasts other incredible dimensions. That’s because it stands an imposing 8,635 ft (2,632 m) tall. That alone elevates it to extreme status, no pun intended.
Yet the marvels of this geological wonder do not end there. Within its already incredible confines lies a lava shield that posseses a diameter of approximately 1,300 ft (396m). Few volcanoes on the planet have features rivaling those of this spectacular site.
Astonishingly, the list of features to be found in Piton de la Fournaise just keeps rolling. Indeed, numerous other geological formations line the inside of the enormous crater. These primarily consist of much smaller craters and volcanic features known as spatter cones.
Over time, and simply adding to its impressiveness, another visually stunning feature came into existence. That’s due to the fact that, on the southeast side of the caldera, the sea breached its walls. This only augments the incredible array of sights to behold here.
Piton de la Fournaise Location and Activity
The air of magic pervading the marvelous yet dangerous Piton de la Fournaise also owes part of its presence to its location. That’s because the intriguing volcano additionally formed in an extremely remote part of the world. That region’s already known for its marvels.
More precisely, though, it sits on the eastern side of what now holds the name of Reunion Island. That site itself formed in the Indian Ocean, near the continent of Africa. This places the tantalizing creation of ongoing natural processes east of the island of Madagascar.
According to scientific research, this stunning volcano formed roughly 530,000 years ago. In relative geological terms, it is thus comparatively young. It further represents only a portion of what experts call the Reunion hotspot, active for nearly 66 million years.
Though extremely active, the phenomenal Piton de la Fournaise typically produces comparatively slow-moving flows, as opposed to violent eruptions. The majority of its activity therefore falls into the category of basaltic flows. Over 150 have been recorded.
While most of these remain inside the caldera, a few do leave its boundaries, however. The most recent of these occurred in February of 2019. But, in all of this, only 6 have reached beyond the caldera. That could change at some point though, due to its active nature.