Mt. Pelee, a stratovolcano made mostly of pyroclastic rocks, is on the north end of the island of Martinique. Martinique is part of theLesser Antilles volcanic arc. The arc is formed by the subduction of the North American Plate under the Caribbean Plate. Space Shuttle photo of Martinique with Mt. Pelee on the north (left) end of the island.

Mt. Pelee is famous for the May 8, 1902 eruption which killed 29,000 people and destroyed the city of St. Pierre. This is the largest number of casualities for a volcanic eruption this century. Photograph of Mt. Pelee by Heilprin, May 26, 1902.

The destruction was caused by a nuee ardente, a type of pyroclastic flow that consists of hot incandescent solid particles. Photograph of a pyroclastic flow by Heilprin, 1902.

Photograph of the remains of St. Pierre by Heilprin, 1902. 

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Sources of Information:

Fisher, R.V., and Heiken, G., 1982, Mt. Pelee, Martinique; May 8 and 20, 1902, pyroclastic flows and surges: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 13, p. 339-371.

Fisher, R.V., Smith, A.L., and Roobol, M.J., 1980, Destruction of St. Pierre, Martinique by ash-cloud surges, May 8 and 20, 1902: Geology, v. 8, p. 472-476.

Heilprin, A., 1908, The eruption of Pelee: Philadelphia Geographic Society, 72 p.

Hirn, A., Girardin, N., Viode, J.-P., and Eschenbrenner, S., 1987, Shallow seismicity at Montagne Pelee volcano, Martinique, Lesser Antilles: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 49, p. 723-728.

Lacroix, A., 1904, La Montagne Pelee et ses eruptions: Paris, Masson et Cie, 622 p.

Perret, F.A., 1937, The eruption of Mt. Pelee, 1929-1932: Carnegie Institute of Washington Publication, v. 458, 126 p.

Robson, G.R., and Tomlin, J.F., 1966, Catalogue of the active volcanoes of the world, including Solfatara fields; Part 20, West Indies: Rome, International Association of Volcanology, 56 p.

Smith, A.L., and Roobol, M.J., 1990, Mt. Pelee, Martinique; A study of an active island-arc volcano: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Memoir 175, 105 p.

Westercamp, D., and Traineau, H., 1983, The past 5,000 years of volcanic activity at M. Pelee, Martinique (F.W.I.); Implications for assessment of volcanic hazards: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 17, p.159-185.

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