Evidences of Plug Pressurization Enhancing Magma Fragmentation During the September 2016 Basaltic Eruption at Piton de la Fournaise (La Réunion Island, France)
Journal article, 2020

In September 2016, Piton de la Fournaise volcano, well known for its effusive and Hawaiian fountaining activity, produced, at the end of the eruption, an unusual phase of pulsating ash and bomb emission. Integration of geophysical data, with textural and petrological analysis of the samples, allowed us to constrain the main factors that controlled this sudden shift in activity, potentially dangerous for the tourist population that usually approach these “gentle” eruptive sites. Volcanic tremor, lava discharge rates, fountain heights, and SO2 emission changed rapidly during the eruption. Grain size and componentry of the tephra beds evolved from unimodal all along the sequence to bimodal on the last day of the activity, reflecting the contribution of both Hawaiian fountaining at the main vent (Vent A) and transient explosive activity at the second vent (Vent B). Hawaiian fountaining produced highly vesicular and almost microlite-free tephra (golden pumice and fluidal scoria) while transient explosive activity emitted denser and crystal-rich tephra (sideromelane and tachylite scoria) sometimes mingled with vesicular fragments. Permeability measurements on lapilli and bomb-sized samples reveal that golden pumice and fluidal scoria were more gas-permeable than the sideromelane and tachylite ones, while textural and chemical analyses of the ash support the hypothesis that these sideromelane and tachylite components were inherited from the subsurface crystallization of the initial golden pumice and fluidal scoria components. We thus suggest that Vent B accumulated a plug of degassed, cooled, and low-permeable magma, which modulated overpressure pulses under the late input of ascending magma.

transient explosions




Piton de la Fournaise

Hawaiian-style activity


Simon Thivet

Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand II

L. Gurioli

Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand II

A. Di Muro

Paris Diderot University

Allan Derrien

Paris Diderot University

V. Ferrazzini

Paris Diderot University

Mathieu Gouhier

Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand II

D. Coppola

University of Turin

Bo Galle

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Santiago Arellano

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

1525-2027 (ISSN)

Vol. 21 2 e2019GC008611

Subject Categories

Chemical Process Engineering


Geosciences, Multidisciplinary



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