Accueil Staff Permanent staff Laurent Michon

Laurent MICHON


Laboratoire Géosciences Réunion - IPGP
Université de la Réunion
15, Avenue René Cassin, CS92003
97744 Saint Denis messagerie cedex 9
La Réunion
phone: +262 (0)262 93 82 04
fax: +262 (0)262 93 82 66
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My research is focused on different topics dealing with the evolution of volcanic and rift systems. I addressed with colleagues the problem of deformation processes experienced by volcanic edifices, the eruptive dynamics of Piton de la Fournaise through time, the magma path at depth and the evolution of rift system with a special focus on the East African Rift System.

1- Dynamics of caldera collapse.

Dolomieu caldera

 a — The April 2007 caldera. The maximum depth is located in the northern half of the caldera. Note the differences between the northern and southern caldera flanks. New concentric fractures are represented by arrows. Fractures opened essentially south of the caldera. Souf: Soufrière pit crater.

b — View of the north-western caldera wall. Several polished surfaces were preserved few days after the caldera collapse until destruction of this scarp by landslide in May 2007.

Michon et al. (2009a)

Deformation of Piton de la Fournaise during the 2007 caldera collapse.

a- Tilt changes recorded by the TCRI tiltmeter stations between 1600 GMT 5 April and 0200 GMT 8 April. Radial and tangential tilts are parallel and perpen- dicular to the slope, respectively.

b- Displacement of the northern rim of the caldera monitored by the SNEG GPS station [after Staudacher et al., 2009].

c- Amount and (d) rate of slope variation inferred from the tangential component of the TCRI tiltmeter.

e- Mean amplitude per minute of the seismic signal recorded by the TKR seismic station. ER, Emission rate proposed by Coppola et al. [2009] and Staudacher et al. [2009]. 1, 2a and 2b account for the successive phases identified from both the rate of slope variation and the mean amplitude of the seismic signal.

Michon et al. (2011)


2- Edifice growth and magmato-tectonic interplay in basaltic setting.

Diking and deformation

Modelled slope changes due to repeated dyke intrusions into the N25–30 and N120 rift zones (see Fig. 8 in Michon et al. 2009b for the dyke intrusion geometries). Dyke surface traces are represented with a white thick solid line. Thin lines represent elevation contours at 100 m intervals. b– Slope map suggesting the effect of dyke intrusions in the development of the eastern and south-eastern steep flanks. c– E–W cross section presenting the outward inflation of the cone's eastern half.

Michon et al. (2009b)

3- Long-term deformation of volcanic edifice

 slope map Fournaisespreading Fournaise

 a- Slope map of PdF showing the variable slopes on the volcano flanks. b- Gray scale slope image with location of the upper and lower steep slope zones highlighted in red (USS and LSS) characterized by slope values ranging between 20° and 30°. Coordinates are in Gauss Laborde Réunion.

N-S cross section of PdF illustrating the potential origin of the upper and lower
circumferential steep slopes by the spreading of the edifice above a weak hydrothermal core.

Michon and Saint-Ange (2008)

Synthetic cross section and structural data from inner part of Piton des Neiges volcano, as observed in Mât River (outcrop M-2). Stereo diagrams are equal area, lower hemisphere. Magmatic layering and dikes are represented as poles in scatter and Kamb contour plots, and faults as striated planes. Orientations and plunges of principal stresses (five-, four- and three-legged stars represent σ1, σ2, and σ3, respectively) were computed from fault data using statistical method of Angelier (1984). Famin and Michon (2010)

4- Multi-scale deformation of shield volcanoes of La Réunion Island


a) Distribution of the main structures of PdF, PdN, La Re´union edifice and the oceanic
crust. Yellow, red and green lines correspond to the N30–40, N120–130, and N70–80 structural trends, respectively. b) Summary of the main trends observed at different scales: Piton de la Fournaise, island, and crust.

Michon et al. (2007)

Ongoing projects

  • Dynamics of caldera collapses in basaltic setting. Interactions between pressure variations in the magma chamber andthe deformation of the edifice. Funded by the Conseil Régional de La Réunion.
  • Magmatic and destabilization history of Piton des Neiges (La Réunion hotspot). Funded by the Conseil Régional de La Réunion. Collaboration: V. Famin (LGSR-IPGP).
  • Faults dynamics
  • Role of the geodynamical context in the evolution of volcanic islands. Comparison of the Aeolian Islands and La Réunion. Collaboration: Th. Catry and C. Romagnoli (Universita di Bologna). Project funded by a VINCI fellowship for Th Catry.

Education and experience

Since 2013: Professor, Laboratoire GéoSciences Réunion, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, La Réunion University

2003-2013 : Assistant professor, Laboratoire GéoSciences Réunion, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, La Réunion University

2001-2003 : Post-doctoc position at TNO-NITG (Utrecht, the Netherlands) and at the Geologisches Institut (Freiburg i. Br., Germany) in the framework of the ENTEC (Environmental TECtonics) european project.

2000-2001 : Lecturer at the Magmas and Volcanoes Laboratory (Clermont-Ferrand, France).

1997-2000 : PhD thesis – Université Clermont-Ferrand II : Dynamique de l’extension continentale –Application au Rift Ouest-Européen par l’étude de la province du Massif Central.


Teaching activity

Disciplines: Structural geology, geodynamics, magmatic processes, volcanology, field geology

Publications (Electronic versions of the articles available on researchgate)

  • Principe, C., Morandi, A., Di Muro, A., Michon, L. (2016), Volcanological map of the Plaine des Sables, Piton de la Fournaise. In: Bachèlery, P., Lénat, J.-F., Di Muro, A., Michon, L. (Editor), Active Volcanoes of the Southwest Indian Ocean: Piton de la Fournaise and Karthala. Active Volcanoes of the World. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg. pp. 327-330.
  • Morandi, A., Principe, C., Di Muro, A., Leroi, G., Michon, L. Bachèlery, P. (2016), Pre-historic explosive activity at Piton de la Fournaise volcano. In: Bachèlery, P., Lénat, J.-F., Di Muro, A., Michon, L. (Editor), Active Volcanoes of the Southwest Indian Ocean: Piton de la Fournaise and Karthala. Active Volcanoes of the World. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg. pp. 107-138.
  • Michon, L., Lénat, J.-F., and Bachèlery, P., (2016), Geology and morphostructure of Piton de la Fournaise. In: Bachèlery, P., Lénat, J.-F., Di Muro, A., Michon, L. (Editor), Active Volcanoes of the Southwest Indian Ocean: Piton de la Fournaise and Karthala. Active Volcanoes of the World. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg. pp. 45-60.
  • Michon, L., Ferrazzini, V., Di Muro, A. (2016), Magma intrusions paths of Piton de la Fournaise. In: Bachèlery, P., Lénat, J.-F., Di Muro, A., Michon, L. (Editor), Active Volcanoes of the Southwest Indian Ocean: Piton de la Fournaise and Karthala. Active Volcanoes of the World. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg. pp. 91-106.
  • Michon, L. (2016), The volcanism of the Comores archipelago integrated at a regional scale. In: Bachèlery, P., Lénat, J.-F., Di Muro, A., Michon, L. (Editors), Active Volcanoes of the Southwest Indian Ocean: Piton de la Fournaise and Karthala. Active Volcanoes of the World. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg. pp. 333-344.
  • Michon, L., V. Ferrazzini, A. Di Muro, N. Villeneuve, V. Famin (2015), Rift zones and magma plumbing system of Piton de la Fournaise volcano: how do they differ from Hawaii and Etna, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 303, 112-129.
  • Froger, J.L., Famin, V., Cayol, V., Augier, A., Michon, L., Lénat, J.F. (2015), Time-dependent displacements during and after the April 2007 eruption of Piton de la Fournaise, revealed by interferometric data, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 296, 55-68.
  • Famin, V., Raimbourg, H., Garcia, S., Bellahsen, N., Hamada, Y.,  Boullier, A.-M., Fabbri, O., Michon, L., Uchide, T., Ricci, T., Hirono, T.,  Kawabata, K. (2014), Stress rotations and the long-term weakness of the Median Tectonic Line and the Rokko-Awaji Segment. Tectonics, 33, 1900-1919. doi:10.1002/2014TC003600.
  • Cayol, V., Catry, T., Michon, L., Chaput, M., Famin, V., Bodart, O., Froger, J.-L., Romagnoli, C. (2014), Sheared sheet intrusions as a mechanism for lateral flank displacement on basaltic volcanoes: Applications to Réunion Island volcanoes, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 119, 7607-7635, 10.1002/2014JB011139 .
  • Fontaine, F. R., G. Roult, L. Michon, G. Barruol, A. Di Muro (2014), The 2007 eruptions and caldera collapse of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion Island) from tilt analysis at a single very broadband seismic station, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, doi: 10.1002/2014GL05969
  • Chaput, M., V. Pinel, V. Famin, L. Michon, and J.-L. Froger (2014), Cointrusive shear displacement by sill intrusion in a detachment: A numerical approach, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41,  2803-2811, doi: 10.1002/2014GL05969 .
  • Chaput, M., V. Famin, L. Michon (2014), Deformation of basaltic shield volcanoes under cointrusive stress permutations, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 119,  274-301, doi:10.1002/2013JB010623.
  • Michon, L., A. Di Muro, N. Villeneuve, C. Saint-Marc, P. Fadda, F. Manta (2013), Explosive activity of the summit cone of Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion Island): a historical and geological review, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 263, 117-133. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2013.06.012.
  • Saint-Ange, F., P. Bachèlery, N., Babonneau, L., Michon, S.J., Jorry (2013), Volcaniclastic sedimentation on the submarine slopes of a basaltic hotspot volcano: Piton de La Fournaise volcano (La Réunion Island, Indian Ocean), Marine Geol., 337, 35-52. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2013.01.004.
  • Michon, L., F. Massin, V. Famin, V. Ferrazzini, G. Roult (2011), Basaltic calderas: collapse dynamics, edifice deformation and variations of magma withdrawal, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2010JB007636.
  • Saint-Ange, F., B. Savoye†, L. Michon, P. Bachelery, C. Deplus, B. De Voogd, J. Dyment, E. Le Drezen, M. Voisset, A. Le Friant, G. Boudon (2011), A volcaniclastic deep-sea fan off La Réunion Island (Indian Ocean): gradualism versus catastrophism, Geology, 39, 3, 271–274, doi: 10.1130/G31478.1. 
  • Merle, O., Ph. Mairine, L. Michon, P. Bachèlery, M. Smietana, (2010), Calderas, Landslides and Paleo-canyons at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano (La Réunion Island, Indian Ocean), J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 189, 131-142, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.11.001.
  • Famin, V., L. Michon, (2010), Volcano destabilization by magma injections in a detachment, Geology, 38, 219-222.
  • Michon, L., V. Cayol, L. Letourneur, A. Peltier, N. Villeneuve, T. Staudacher (2009), Edifice growth, deformation and rift zone development in basaltic setting: insights from Piton de la Fournaise shield volcano (Réunion Island, Indian Ocean), J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 184, 14-30, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.11.002.
  • Michon, L., N. Villeneuve, Th. Catry, O. Merle (2009), How summit calderas collapse on basaltic volcanoes: new insights from the April 2007 caldera collapse of Piton de la Fournaise volcano. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 184, 138-151, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.11.003.
  • Michon, L., F. Saint-Ange (2008), Morphology of Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano (La Réunion Island): Characterization and implication in the volcano evolution, J. Geophys. Res., 113, B03203, doi:10.1029/2005JB004118.
  • Merle, O., L. Michon, P. Bachèlery (2008), Caldera rim collapse: a hidden volcanic hazard, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 177, 525-530, doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.06.011.
  • Michon, L., F. Saint-Ange, P. Bachèlery, N. Villeneuve, and T. Staudacher (2007), Role of the structural inheritance of the oceanic lithosphere in the magmato-tectonic evolution of Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion Island), J. Geophys. Res., 112, B04205, doi:10.1029/2006JB004598.
  • Michon, L., T. Staudacher, V. Ferrazzini, P Bachèlery, and J. Marti (2007), April 2007 collapse of Piton de la Fournaise: A new example of caldera formation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L21301, doi:10.1029/2007GL031248.
  • Cloetingh, S., T. Cornu, P.A. Ziegler, F. Beekman and Environmental Tectonics (ENTEC) Working Group (K. Ustaszewski, S.M. Schmid, P. Dèzes, R, Hinsch, K, Decker, G. Lopes Gardozo, M. Granet, G. Bertrand, J. Behrmann, R. van Balen, L. Michon, H. Pagnier, S. Rozsa, B. Heck, M. Tesauro, H.G. Kahle, T. Dewez, S. Carretier, T. Winter, N. Hardebol, G. Bada, B. Dost, T. van Eck) (2006). Neotectonics and intraplate continental topography of the northern Alpine Foreland. Earth-Science Rev., 74, 127-196.
  • Worum, G., L. Michon, R.T. van Balen, J.D. van Wees, S. Cloetingh, H. Pagnier (2005) Comparison and modelling of the present-day fault activity in the West Netherlands Basin and Roer Valley Rift System (southern Netherlands) in light of their pre-Neogene evolution. Quaternary Sci. Rev., 24, 475-490.
  • Worum, G., L. Michon (2005) Continuous, syn-sedimentary basin inversion induced by the alpine compression: The Paleogene inversion of the West Netherlands Basin integrated into a NW European scale. J. Geol. Soc., London, 162, 73-85.
  • Michon, L., R.T. van Balen (2005) Characterization and quantification of active faulting in the Roer Valley Rift system based on high precision Digital Elevation Models. Quaternary Sci. Rev., 24, 457-474.
  • Michon, L., O. Merle (2005) Discussion on "Evolution of the European Cenozoic Rift System: interaction of the Alpine and Pyrenean orogens with their foreland lithosphere, Tectonophysics, 401, 251-256.
  • Michon, L., D. Sokoutis (2005). Interaction between the structural inheritance and the stress field during graben and depocentre formation: new insights from an experimental approach. Tectonophysics, 409, 125-146.
  • Miallier, D., L. Michon, J. Evin, T. Pilleyre, S. Sanzelle, G. Vernet (2004) Volcans de la Chaîne des Puys (Massif Central, France) : point sur la chronologie Vasset‐Kilian‐Pariou‐Chopine. C. R. Géosciences, 336,13345‐1353.
  • Michon, L., R.T. van Balen, O. Merle, H. Pagnier (2003) The Cenozoic evolution of the Roer Valley rift system integrated at a European scale. Tectonophysics, 367, 101‐126.
  • Michon, L., O. Merle (2003) Mode of lithospheric extension: conceptual models from analogue modeling. Tectonics, 22, 4, 1028, doi:10.1029/2002TC001435.
  • Michon, L., O. Merle (2001) The evolution of the Massif Central Rift: Spatio‐temporal distribution of the volcanism. Bull. Soc. Géol. Fr., 172, 2, 69‐80.
  • Merle, O., L. Michon (2001) The formation of the West European Rift: A new model as exemplified by the Massif Central area. Bull. Soc. Géol. Fr., 172, 2, 81‐89.
  • Michon, L., O. Merle (2000) Crustal structures of the Rhinegraben and the Massif Central grabens: an experimental approach. Tectonics, 19, 896‐904.
  • Merle, O., L. Michon, G. Camus, A. Goër de (1998) L'extension oligocène sur la transversale septentrionale du rift du Massif Central. Bull. Soc. Géol. Fr., 169, 615‐626.