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Volcanological Observatory of Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP)

Volcanological Observatory of Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP)


14RN3 Km 27, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion

Within the framework of the observation national services of the CNRS-INSU, the IPGP assignments, via the volcanological and seismological observatory of Piton de la Fournaise, are: :

  • the observation of the activity of Piton de la Fournaise,
  • the continuous monitoring of the volcanic seismicity below Piton de la Fournaise and at the local scale of La Réunion Island,
  • the monitoring of ground deformation of Piton de la Fournaise,
  • the monitoring of the gas geochemistry emitted from the ground on Piton de la Fournaise and in the cirque of Cilaos.

The observatory also contributes to defining the alert level that is decided by the Etat Major de Zone et de Protection Civile de la Zone Océan Indien during the phases of volcano unrest. The observatory informs the authorities that are responsible for the protection of people and properties, and participates in various projects for prevention and knowledge dissemination. The observatory also conducts fundamental and applied researches in the field of Earth sciences, in particular in cooperation with regional scientific organizations.

The state-of-the-art instruments and equipment with which it is equipped and the various international projects in which its teams participate make the OVPF-IPGP a high-level platform for research, observation and collaboration at both regional and international scales.

Seismic and GNSS data are distributed by IPGP (, Epos-France and RENASS.

OVPF-IPGP in Bourg-Murat
OVPF-IPGP sensors installed on the island
eruptions anticipated by OVPF-IPGP
days of eruption followed by OVPF-IPGP

entre 1979 et 2022

Since the arrival of the first permanent inhabitants on La Réunion Island at the end of the 17th century, observations of a sustained activity of Piton de la Fournaise volcano have been reported. Nonetheless, already in the 13th century, Arab sailors reported observation of an island in the east of Madagascar where “the fire spouts out permanently”.

In 1936, Alfred Lacroix expressed the wish for the installation of a volcanological observatory for the study of Piton de la Fournaise. He said: “No instrumental observation was made and it would be to wish that a seismograph was installed near the volcano to record the microseismic movements which certainly accompany the rise of the lava, at the time of the paroxysms”.

It is only about 40 years later, following the eruption outside the caldera in 1977, which partially destroyed the village of Piton Sainte Rose, that the authorities, the department de La Réunion and the CNRS decided to establish a volcanological observatory and entrusted its management to the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris.

The observatory was operational at the end of 1979.

It is located in Plaine des Cafres, at a straight-line distance of 15 km from the summit of the volcano, and the data transmission in real time allows monitoring of the activity in real time.

Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world with an average of an eruptive phase every 8 months. The activity of Piton de la Fournaise is followed 24/24 by the volcanological observatory through several monitoring and research networks (see next section).

The OVPF has three main missions :

. the monitoring of Piton de la Fournaise with in particular the follow-up of eruptions and lava flows,

. research on volcanoes behavior and evolution,

. and the diffusion of knowledge.

In addition to these three missions, since 2020, the observatory is in charge of the operational monitoring of the seismic activity of Mayotte through REVOSIMA (Réseau de surveillance volcanologique et sismologique de Mayotte)

The monitoring of Piton de la Fournaise activity requires the permanent surveillance of geophysical and geochemical phenomena associated to the circulation and storage of fluid at depth, and their integration in the geological knowledge of past eruptive activity and the possible future eruptive scenarios.

For this, the OVPF-IPGP maintains five different networks with about 100 instruments installed on the island mainly on Piton de la Fournaise but also on the Piton des Neiges:

– the seismological network,
– the ground deformation monitoring network with tiltmeters, extensometers, and GPS receivers,
– the geochemical network carrying out measurements of SO2, H2S and CO2 in the summit fumaroles and of CO2 in the soil in far field,
– the network of cameras,
– the meteorological network (rain gauges).

The networks operate continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The instruments are maintained, repaired and constantly perfected. The proper functioning of the networks is checked daily by the observatory staff.
All these data allow the observatory to monitor the volcano activity real time and to warn Etat Major de Zone et de Protection Civile de la Zone Océan Indien of any change in activity and the imminence of an eruption. These data are disseminated by the observatory via daily and monthly bulletins, and via exceptional press releases during any change in activity or during an earthquake felt on the island.

Data analysis and experimental research carried out at the observatory and at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris have improved our understanding of the eruptive mechanisms of Piton de la Fournaise in particular and of basaltic volcanoes in general. In return, this knowledge has been used to improve methods of observing and anticipating eruptions.

List of eruptions and collapses at Piton de La Fournaise between  1998 and 2022

(last update: 23/12/2022)

E-L : Lateral Eruption  ;  E-C : Summit eruption in the summit crater ;  Co : Collapse
Start date
Start time (UTC)
End date
End time
E-L09/03/9811:0521/09/9811:59196.0flank NKapor
 08/08/9822:0015/09/9811:5937.6outside of Enclos N 
  22:00   outside of Enclos N 
  22:00   outside of Enclos N 
 14/08/9811:5915/09/9811:5932.0outside of Enclos N 
E-L11/03/9822:4501/04/9823:0021.0flank W SWHudson
E-CL19/07/9914:5031/07/9911:5911.9Dolomieu E + flank E 
 24/07/99 31/07/9911:59 flank E 
E-CL28/09/997:5823/10/9904:4524.9Dolomieu W + Enclos SDupavillon
 11/10/99 23/10/9904:45 Enclos S 
E-L13/02/0020:1804/03/0018:0019.9flank NPiton Célimène, Legros
E-L23/06/0014:0030/07/0015:0037.0flank E SEPiton Parvédi
E-L12/10/001:0513/11/0017:4532.7flank E SEPiton Morgabim
E-L27/03/019:2004/04/0100:207.6flank S SEPiton Tourkal
E-L11/06/019:5007/07/0111:0026.0flank SEPiton Madoré
E-L05/01/0219:0016/01/0212:0510.7flank NE + Plaine des Osmondes 
E-L16/11/020:5605/12/0212:0019.5flank EPiton Guanyin
Co23/12/026:02   Dolomieu W SWpit crater r=100m depth=20m
E-C30/05/038:0007/07/0315:0038.3Dolomieu W SWPiton Kaf
 30/05/038:0030/05/0316:000.3Dolomieu W SWPiton Kaf
 04/06/037:2006/06/0317:202.4Dolomieu W SWPiton Kaf
 12/06/0323:0815/06/0302:002.1Dolomieu W SWPiton Kaf
 21/06/0319:3007/07/0315:0015.8Dolomieu W SWPiton Kaf
E-CL22/08/0316:5027/08/0318:505.1Bory + flank NPiton Payankë
E-L30/09/0319:4001/10/0307:000.5flank W SW 
E-C07/12/0311:2025/12/0317:0018.2Dolomieu E SE 
E-L08/01/0422:4510/01/0402:001.1Plaine des Osmondes 
E-L02/05/0415:3518/05/0412:0015.9flank S 
E-CL12/08/0422:4014/10/0403:4062.2Dolomieu WE + flank EPiton Kala
E-L17/02/0516:3526/02/0518:009.1Plaine des Osmondes 
  16:3526/02/0518:00 Plaine des Osmondes 
 25/02/0519:0026/02/0518:00 Plaine des OsmondesTrou de Sable
E-C04/10/0510:3517/10/05 12.5Dolomieu W SWPiton Kafrine
E-CL29/11/052:3029/11/05 0.4Dolomieu N + flank N 
E-L26/12/0513:1018/01/0620:0023.3Enclos N + Plaine des Osmondes 
  13:1018/01/0620:00 Enclos N 
  16:30   Plaine des Osmondes 
  18:30   Plaine des Osmondes 
E-L20/07/060:0614/08/0615:0025.6flank S SWPiton La Paix
E-CL30/08/067:4231/12/0621:00123.6Dolomieu E SEPiton Wouandzani, Piton
       Pongal, Piton Moinama, Piton Moinache
 09/12/06 09/12/06  flank E 
E-CL18/02/0712:3519/02/0721:001.4Dolomieu WE + flank E 
      flank S 
E-L30/03/0719:0031/03/0703:000.3flank S 
 02/04/076:0001/05/0720:0029.6Enclos S SEPiton Tremblet
Co05/04/0720:48   Dolomieucollapse of all Dolomieu depth=340
E-C21/09/0811:3802/10/0800:2010.5Dolomieu SW 
E-C27/11/087:5528/11/0809:001.0Dolomieu SW 
E-C14/12/0822:5504/02/0919:0051.8Dolomieu E + Dolomieu N 
E-L05/11/0917:0006/11/0900:100.3flank S SE 
 05/11/0917:0006/11/0900:10 flank S SE 
 05/11/0917:20   flank S SE 
E-L14/12/0914:4015/12/0906:300.7flank S 
  14:4015/12/0906:30 flank S 
  14:50   flank S 
  15:09   flank SW 
E-C02/01/1010:2012/01/1000:059.6Dolomieu W 
E-L14/10/1015:2031/10/1002:0016.4flank S 
E-L09/12/1018:1510/12/1009:300.6flank N 
  18:1510/12/1009:30 flank N 
  18:1510/12/1009:30 flank N 
E-L20/06/1421:3521/06/1417:090.8flank S 
E-L04/02/156:5015/02/1518:3011.5W bory 
E-L17/05/159:4530/05/1516:5013.3flank S-SEPiton Kei Aki
E-L24/08/1514:5018/10/1504:0254.6flank SPiton Kalla et Pélé
 22/10/1515:3024/10/1511:001.8flank S 
 29/10/1515:0031/10/1512:181.9flank S 
E-L26/05/164:0527/05/1607:401.1flank SE 
E-L11/09/164:4118/09/1600:186.8flank NPiton Jacob
E-L31/01/1715:4027/02/1715:3027.0flank S-SEPiton Timize
E-L13/07/1720:5027/08/1723:0045.1Flank SPiton Delmond
E-L03/04/186:4004/04/1800:000.7flank N-NE 
E-L27/04/1819:5001/06/1810:3034.6flank SPiton Jasmin
E-L12/07/1823:3013/07/1818:000.8flank N 
E-L15/09/180:2501/11/1800:0047.0flank SPiton Daniel Honoré
E-L18/02/195:4818/02/1918:000.5flank E 
 19/02/1913:0010/03/1902:2818.6flank EPiton Lo Rwa Kaf – Piton Anne Mousse
E-L11/06/192:3513/06/1908:002.2flank E 
E-L29/07/198:0030/07/1900:300.7flank N 
E-L11/08/1912:2015/08/1900:203.5flanc S – SEPiton Louise et Henri Cornu
E-L25/10/1910:4027/10/1912:302.1flanc S – SEPiton Fréri
E-L10/02/206:5016/02/2010:126.1flanc SE et EPiton Jacques Picard
E-L02/04/208:2006/04/2009:304.0flanc EPiton Voulvoul
E-L07/12/200:4008/12/2003:151.1flanc W-SW 
E-L09/04/2115:0023/05/2122:0044.3flanc S-SEPiton Guy Valcourt Picard
E-L21/12/2123:3016/01/2222:1025.9flanc S-SEPiton Karay
E-L19/09/223:4805/10/2206:1016.1flanc SPiton Tikal

Daily bulletin, on the observations of the previous day

Piton de la Fournaise in live

Direct link to all webcams

(time is in UTC time / UTC time  = La Réunion time – 4h)