Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Rosaly Lopes

First view of Piton volcano, Reunion Island

Posted by Rosaly Lopes

03-10-2010 17:40 CDT

Topics: Earth, geology

Planetary volcanologist Rosaly Lopes has just embarked on a field expedition to the active volcano Piton de la Fournaise, on Reunion Island, and is sending us updates for the blog. Thanks, Rosaly! --ESL


Reunion is indeed similar to the Big Island of Hawaii. I had a good view of the volcano and the island on the local flight from St. Denis (were the Paris flight landed) to St. Pierre (where the meeting is being held). Piton is a very active volcano, but parts of the island look very old, with deep canyons cut into the flanks of the volcano. There has been a lot of collapse here of various parts of the volcanoes that make up the island. In terms of geology, it is a very interesting place.

There are about 60 volcanologists here at the meeting and we are wondering if the volcano is going to erupt and, if it does, what we will be able to see. It seems that the civil defense people here are very cautious and even us professionals may not be able to get close. There are helicopter tours here, that might be a possibility.

La Reunion is the tip of a seven-kilometer-high oceanic shield volcano which started growing about five million years ago. There were two main active volcanoes, Piton des Neiges and Alizes, but since Piton de La Fournaise sprung to life about 530,000 years ago, Alizes stopped erupting. Since about 12,000 years ago, Piton de la Fournaise has been the only site of activity on the island. It is interesting that Piton des Neiges, as the name implies, can have snow at its summit. This island is nearly on the equator and the volcano is less than 3,000 meters high.

My talk is tomorrow morning, so I need to get some rest. We have some field trips which will be fun I'm sure.


Here is a website with some spectacular photos of Piton de la Fournaise (text is in French). Thanks to Luke Dones for the link.

 
See other posts from October 2010

 

Or read more blog entries about: Earth, geology

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

South Georgia island

ATV-5 and a waning moon
Moscow at night
Squished supermoon
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!