On the slopes of the Pitons de la Fournaise

  • Reunion Island
  • 20-day mission
  • Illustration and inventory of an ecosystem
  • Diving to -120m

In April 2007, the Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Réunion Island erupted. It was an exceptional eruption, the likes of which had not been seen for 30 years. The lava flows reached the ocean and destroyed everything in their path, both on land and on the seabed. At depths of up to 800 metres, coral and all living things attached to the rock were devastated, as were nearby fish, which were literally scalded and found floating on the surface for miles around. In February 2017, Laurent Ballesta and his team began an exploration mission on the submerged slopes of the volcano, on these reefs that had become a desert of frozen lava. The mission was to take stock of the situation 10 years after the eruption. The team went diving on the slopes to draw up a bestiary of these very special reefs. They were able to observe a renewal of biodiversity and provide the scientists with additional images and potentially new species for the area. They also compared the repopulation of the 2007 site with older sites that are gradually being colonised again.