Reunion Island Basalt

August 10, 2011


Photographer: Vincent Dunogue 
Summary authors
: Vincent Dunogue; Stu Witmer

August 2011 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's ChoiceThe photo above shows columnar basalt along the edge of the Bras de la Plaine River on the island of Reunion. Reunion, an overseas region of France, is an island in the southern Indian Ocean about 500 mi (800 km) east of Madagascar. More basalt is in the Earth's crust than any other rock and oceanic hotspots, such as Reunion, are primary locations for basalt to occur. The Bras de la Plaine runs through the basalt plateau between the two volcanoes that form the oval-shaped island. The western volcano, Piton des Neiges (Snow Peak), is the highest point on Reunion reaching a height of 10,069 ft (3,072 m) above sea level. It's been dormant for 12,000 years. The eastern end of the island is dominated by the shield volcano Piton de la Fournaise (Furnace Peak) more than 8,565 ft (2,610 m) above sea level is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. More than 40 percent of the island is part of the Reunion National Park and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List of significant places. Photo taken July 14, 2011.