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On the Link Between External Forcings and Slope Instabilities in the Piton de la Fournaise Summit Crater, Reunion Island

  • Durand, Virginie
  • Mangeney, Anne
  • Haas, Florian
  • Jia, Xiaoping
  • Bonilla, Fabian
  • Peltier, Aline
  • Hibert, Clément
  • Ferrazzini, Valérie
  • Kowalski, Philippe
  • Lauret, Fréderic
  • Brunet, Christophe
  • Satriano, Claudio
  • Wegner, Kerstin
  • Delorme, Arthur
  • Villeneuve, Nicolas
Publication Date
Sep 17, 2018
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We have analyzed the impact of different forcings, such as rain and seismicity, on slope instabilites on an active volcano. For this, we compiled a catalog of the locations and volumes of rockfalls in the Piton de la Fournaise crater using seismic records. We validated it by comparing the locations and volumes to those deduced from photogrammetric data. We analyzed 10,477 rockfalls, spanning the period 2014 to 2016. This period corresponds to the renewal of volcanic activity after a 41‐month rest. Our analysis reveals that renewed eruptive activity has unsettled the crater edges. External forcings such as rain and seismicity are shown to potentially increase the number and the volume of rockfalls, with a stronger impact on the volume. Preeruptive seismicity seems to be the main triggering factor for the largest volumes, with a delay of one to several days. Rain alone does not seem to trigger especially large rockfalls. We infer that repetitive vibrations from the many seismic events, combined with the action of rain, induce crack (or slip) growth in highly fractured (or granular) materials, leading to the collapse of large volumes. Regarding their spatial distribution before an eruption, the largest rockfalls seem to migrate toward the location of magma extrusion.

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