Deep fluid transfer evidenced by surface deformation during the 2014-2015 unrest at Piton de la Fournaise volcano

TitleDeep fluid transfer evidenced by surface deformation during the 2014-2015 unrest at Piton de la Fournaise volcano
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsPeltier A, Beauducel F, Villeneuve N, Ferrazzini V, Di Muro A, Aiuppa A, Derrien A, Jourde K, Taisne B
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Date Published07/2016

Identifying the onset of volcano unrest and providing an unequivocal identification of volcano reawakening remain challenging problems in volcanology. At Piton de la Fournaise, renewal of eruptive activity in 2014-2015, after 41 months of quiescence and deflation, was associated with long-term continuous edifice inflation measured by GNSS. Inflation started on June 9, 2014, and its rate progressively increased through 2015. Inflation onset was rapidly followed by an eruption on June 20-21, 2014, showing that volcano reactivation can be extremely fast, even after long non-eruptive phases. This short-lived eruption involved a shallow source (1.3-1.9 km depth below the summit). The inflation that followed, and eruptions in 2015, involved a larger depth range of fluid accumulation, constrained by inverse modeling at ca. 3.9 to 12-1.7 km depth. This time evolution reveals that volcano reawakening was associated with continuous pressurization of the shallowest parts of its plumbing system, triggered by progressive upwards transfer of magma from greater depth. A deep magma pulse occurred in mid-April 2015 and was associated with deep seismicity (3 to 9.5 km depth) and CO2 enrichment in fluids emitted by summit fumaroles. From this date, ground deformation accelerated and the output rates of eruptions increased, culminating in the long-lasting, large-volume, August-October eruption (similar to 36 Mm(3)). This evolution suggests that deep magma/fluid transfer through an open conduit system first provoked the expulsion of the top of the plumbing system in June 2014, and then induced the progressive vertical transfer of the entire plumbing system down to 9 km (four eruptions in 2015). The new sustained feeding of the volcano was also at the origin of the hydrothermal system perturbation and the acceleration of the eastern flank motion, which favor lateral dike propagation and the occurrence of frequent and increasingly large eruptions. Our results highlight the fast and progressive way in which basaltic magmatic systems can wake up.