First eruption of the year 2020: Piton de la Fournaise volcano pours molten lava across Reunion island

A volcano on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion is spewing red hot lava into the surrounding countryside and sending plumes of smoke into the air.

Dramatic footage filmed from a helicopter has captured the molten rock pouring out of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano and stretching across the striking landscape as smoke fills the air.

The squat volcano is one of the most active in the world, periodically erupting for long stretches of time. The current eruption began all the way back in October 2019 and is still going strong.

Several cracks have opened on the eastern flank of the volcano between the summit area and 2,000 meters above sea level, the island’s volcanological observatory said on Monday.

Reunion is part of France, though it lies 175 kilometers (109 miles) off the coast of Madagascar.

The volcano erupted at around 10:50 a.m. on Monday morning, February 10, 2020. The Piton de la Fournaise had given significant signs of awakening by 10:27 a.m. with the start of a strong seismic crisis. 
Before the weather got cloudy, the eruption was visible from the Route Nationale 2 at the level of the Grand Burnt. The eruptive mouth is at 2000 meters above sea level on the eastern flank of the volcano. 
At 4.30 p.m. it was already observed that the volcanic tremor gradually decreased.

Piton de la Fournaise, a typical basaltic shield volcano, located on the French island La RĂ©union, is one of the world's most active and productive volcanoes. It is in a phase of frequent but short-lived eruptions that start with lava fountains and produce large lava flows. Since the active areas of the volcano are not inhabited, its eruptions pose little danger and cause little damage.

Piton de la Fournaise is a typical example of a hot-spot volcano. The volcano is about 530,000 years old and during much of this time, its activity overlapped with eruptions of its older neighbor, the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW.

Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks.

 Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera called the Enclos, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. 

Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera.

The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

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