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DESCRIPTION:
Mont Pelée, West Indies



Mont Pelée

Map, Select Major Volcanoes of the Caribbean, click to enlarge [Map,12K,InlineGIF]
Map, Select Volcanoes of the Caribbean

1902 Eruption

From: Tilling, 1985, Volcanoes: USGS General Interest Publication
Mount Pelée in Martinique, West Indies, and Lassen Peak and Mono domes in California are examples of lava domes. An extremely destructive eruption accompanied the growth of a dome at Mount Pelée in 1902. The coastal town of St. Pierre, about 4 miles downslope to the south, was demolished and nearly 30,000 inhabitants were killed by an incandescent, high-velocity ash flow and associated hot gases and volcanic dust. Only two men survived; one because he was in a poorly ventilated, dungeon-like jail cell and the other who somehow made his way safely through the burning city.

From: Wright and Pierson, 1992, Living With Volcanoes: USGS Circular 1073
Pyroclastic flows completely destroyed St. Pierre, Martinique, a town of 65,000 people, following the eruption of Mont Pelée in 1902.

From: Hoblitt, Miller, and Scott, 1987, Volcanic Hazards with Regard to Siting Nuclear-Power Plants in the Pacific Northwest, USGS Open-File Report 87-297
Both hot and cold pyroclastic surges damage or destroy structures and vegetation by impact of rock fragments moving at high speeds and may bury the ground surface with a layer of ash and coarser debris tens of centimeters or more thick. Because of their high temperatures, hot pyroclastic surges may start fires and kill or burn people and animals. Both types of surges can extend as far as 10 kilometers from their source vents and devastate life and property within their paths. During an eruption of Mont Pelée on Martinique in 1902, a cloud of hot ash and gases swept into the town of St. Pierre at an estimated speed of 160 kilometers per hour or more. About 30,000 people died within minutes, most from inhalation of hot ash and gases.


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01/13/03, Lyn Topinka