USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington
Mont Pelée, West Indies
Map, Select Volcanoes of the Caribbean
Tilling, 1985, Volcanoes: USGS General Interest Publication
Mount Pelée in Martinique, West Indies,
Lassen Peak and
in California are examples of
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
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.
Wright and Pierson, 1992, Living With Volcanoes:
USGS Circular 1073
completely destroyed St. Pierre, Martinique, a town of 65,000 people,
following the eruption of Mont Pelée in 1902.
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
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