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

Abstract : 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.
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Aline Peltier, Frédérick Massin, Patrick Bachèlery, Anthony Finizola. Internal structure and building of basaltic shield volcanoes: the example of the Piton de La Fournaise terminal cone (La Réunion). Bulletin of Volcanology, Springer Verlag, 2012, 74 (8), pp.1881-1897. ⟨10.1007/s00445-012-0636-7⟩. ⟨hal-01525184⟩

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