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Piton de la Fournaise (La Reunion) and Karthala (Grande Comore) are the two active volcanoes of the Southwestern Indian Ocean. A 14 month (April 2013 to June 2014) monitoring period was carried out at both volcanoes using synthetic aperture RADAR interferometry (InSAR) techniques on RADARSAT-2 data. Thanks to the SEAS-OI (Survey of Environment Assisted by Satellite in the Indian Ocean) station, 21 SAR scenes were acquired over this period and InSAR results revealed the slow subsidence of the Dolomieu caldera floor at Piton de la Fournaise, following the 2009 and 2010 eruptions, and the subsidence of the whole cone between April and July 2013. At Karthala no evidence of any volcanic activity was found for the period April 2013 to June 2014. The use of systematic InSAR for volcano monitoring is an efficient tool to study effusive eruptions. We showed that, during periods of unrest, InSAR is able to pick up early signs of a future eruption and monitor secondary phenomena that require no real-time data. During an effusive crisis, it is still difficult to carry out fully operational InSAR monitoring, but using the example of the June 2014 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise, we show that SAR data can help with the detection and tracking of lava flows and active flow paths during effusive eruptions, based on SAR coherence and SAR amplitude. These preliminary results are very promising for the future of InSAR monitoring of active volcanoes and highlight the need for near-real-time access to SAR data in the mapping of active lava flows during effusive eruptions. This study also revealed the major role of ground stations like SEAS-OI in the efficiency of this monitoring, supplying free, near-real-time remote sensing data to the scientific and institutional communities.

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