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Table 6 Table summarising basaltic lava flow events at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano that have threatened inhabited areas since 1950

From: Lava flow crises in inhabited areas part I: lessons learned and research gaps related to effusive, basaltic eruptions

Eruption (References) Overview, including impacts (Eruption duration) Response Recovery & Applying lessons learned
1977 (1, 2, 3, 6) Lava flows threatened the town of Boisblanc and inundated thirty structures in Piton Ste Rose. A main road and bridge were also inundated. (3.5 weeks) More than 1000 people were evacuated. This eruption prompted the creation of the volcanic observatory in 1978.
1986 (1, 6) This eruption consisted of six phases. During the first phase, the coastal highway was traversed by two lava flows. Eight rural houses were destroyed. During the second phase, a new fissure opened across the coastal highway. During the final phase, a lava tube formed across the coastal highway. (3.5 years) Towns were evacuated. Fifty-one people were made homeless by the destruction of their homes. A new coastal highway was built down slope of the original coastal highway.
1998 (1, 3, 6) A lava flow threatened Boisblanc although did not reach the town. The old coastal highway was inundated again; the flow stopped 5 m from inundating the new coastal highway. Forest fires were ignited. (6.25 months) No response actions reported. Recovery and how these eruptions affected future preparation have not been reported.
2001 (1, 3, 6) Two ‘a’ā lava flows inundated the old coastal highway. (3.5 weeks) No response actions reported.
2002 (Jan) (1, 3, 6) An ‘a’ā lava flow cut the coastal highway before creating an ocean entry. A lava delta of 15 ha formed. (1.5 weeks) No response actions reported.
2002 (Nov) (1, 3, 6) An ‘a’ā lava flow created an ocean entry after traversing the coastal highway. (2 weeks) No response actions reported.
2004 (May) (1, 3, 6) A lava flow threatened to inundate the old coastal highway although stopped 2.5 km away. Forest fires were ignited. (5.5 months) The smoke resulting from the forest fires was used to track the flow’s advancement.
2004 (Aug) (1, 3, 7) A lava delta was created after a lava flow traversed the coastal highway. (3.5 days) No response actions reported. The lava tubes are now a tourist attraction.
2005 (1, 3,6) A lava flow advancing at 2.5 km/hr inundated the coastal road. A second flow threatened to inundate the road in a second location although stopped 100 m from the road. (1.5 weeks) No response actions reported. Recovery and how this eruption affected future preparation has not been reported.
2007 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7) A lava flow effused from a vent on the eastern flank and traversed the coastal highway before reaching the ocean 6 h later. The resulting laze damaged metal roofs within 1 km of the ocean entry. By the end of the eruption, 1.4 km of the coastal highway were inundated while 0.45 km2 of new land was created. This was one of the most voluminous eruptions in centuries, covering forests and igniting fires. (1 month) Access to the caldera was limited once the police closed the easy route. A section of the coastal highway was also closed. The town of Le Tremblet was evacuated as a precaution for approximately four days as firefighters fought fires close to the town’s access road. The ocean entry impacted sea life with dead fish floating up from depths of up to 500 m due to the heat of the flow. Water and electricity had to be restored to Le Tremblet after residents returned. The Red Cross came to help clean tephra from homes. Tourists were invited to see the ocean entries at the end of the eruption, resulting in the death of one unprepared tourist. The death of fish affected the livelihood of fisherman for an extended period. Sea birds were found dead on the cooling flow. The coastal highway was replaced within a few months (cost: 1 million euro). Newspaper articles noted negative mental health effects. Communication networks took months to be restored. The lava tubes are now a tourist attraction.
2018 (6) A lava flow covered 400 m of the summit hiking trail. Numerous forest fires were also ignited. (7 months) No response actions reported. Recovery and how this eruption affected future preparation has not been reported.
  1. 1: Davoine and Saint-Marc (2016), 2: Lenat (2016), 3: Staudacher et al. (2016), 4: Harris and Villeneuve (2018a), 5: Harris and Villeneuve (2018b), 6:Global Volcanism Program (2019g), 7: http://www.tunnelsdelave.com/index.php