Structure Of Reunion Island (Indian Ocean) Inferred From The Interpretation Of Gravity Anomalies

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Journal Article: Structure Of Reunion Island (Indian Ocean) Inferred From The Interpretation Of Gravity Anomalies

Reunion is a volcanic edifice whose origin is related to a hot spot in the Indian Ocean. Only 3% of its volume is emergent. Many geological and geophysical studies were carried out on Reunion Island during the 1980's but few of them allow study of the internal structure of the edifice. Several gravity surveys have been carried out on the island since 1976 and we have compiled the available data set. The lack of data on the western side of the island led us to conduct a regional survey in 1993 to obtain a more homogeneous distribution of the stations. Computation of Bouguer anomalies for different correction densities accounts for the variable density of the rocks constituting the edifice and provides a distribution of gravity anomalies interpreted as dense bodies of intrusive rocks inside the edifice. Two very large intrusive complexes can be unambiguously recognised: one beneath Piton des Neiges and one beneath the Grand Brule area. Both have been penetrated by geothermal exploration drill holes and the first is also known from outcrop observations. 2.5D simple models were constructed to reveal the geometry and extent of the buried intrusives. They are deeply rooted, extending several kilometres below sea level, and extensive (20-25 km long and 10-13 km wide for the Piton des Neiges complex, 12-15 km long and some kilometres wide for the Grand Brule complex). The development of such complexes implies that the activity of the two volcanic centres was long lasting and remained stable while the volcanoes were growing. The Grand Brule complex has been interpreted as relics of an old volcano named Alizes Volcano. The interpretation of the gravity maps suggests the presence of a ridge of dense rocks to the North of the axis joining the centres of Piton des Neiges and Piton de la Fournaise volcanoes. By analogy with the other structures, 2.5D models show that this structure would culminate between 0 and 1 km below sea level and be 15 km wide. This complex induces a maximum anomaly in Takamaka Valley and we thus propose to name it Takamaka Volcano. No geological evidence of the nature of these dense rocks is available but the ridge coincides with structures revealed by magnetic and seismic data. Interpretation of the Bouguer anomaly maps suggests that the inner gravity structure of Piton de la Fournaise is not characterised by the presence of a voluminous dense body but probably by more restricted concentrations of dense rocks. Some structures can be recognised: along the present NE and SE rift zones and in the previous central part of Piton de la Fournaise to the West of the present summit. The recent eastward migration of the centre of activity of Piton de la Fournaise accounts for the lack of a large positive anomaly beneath the active craters.

Barbara Malengreau, Jean-Francois Lenat and Jean-Luc Froger

Published Journal 
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 1999

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Barbara Malengreau,Jean-Francois Lenat,Jean-Luc Froger. 1999. Structure Of Reunion Island (Indian Ocean) Inferred From The Interpretation Of Gravity Anomalies. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. (!) .