Pelee

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 14.809°N
  • 61.165°W

  • 1394 m
    4572 ft

  • 360120
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

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    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: May 1986 (SEAN 11:05)


Seismicity in 1929 crater

Seismicity began on 11 December 1985, the first recorded since a well-implemented volcano monitoring network was installed in 1978. A constant low level of seismicity has been observed since December, totalling 30 events as of 4 June. Two 3-component stations were established for a month, helping to locate the shocks, at a constant depth of 1-1.5 km below the 1929 crater. Magnitudes were weak, all <2, and only a few were recorded at the Morne des Cadets observatory, 9 km SW of the epicentral area.

The seismic network is composed of five seismometers within 5 km of the summit. Seismic signals noted before the recent activity were attributed to surface phenomena such as rockfalls or local landslides.

Information Contacts: N. Girardin and A. Hirn, IPGP, France; G. Boudon and J.P. Viode, Observatoire Volcanologique de la Montagne Pelée, Martinique.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Pelee.

Index of Bulletin Reports


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

05/1986 (SEAN 11:05) Seismicity in 1929 crater




Bulletin Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.


05/1986 (SEAN 11:05) Seismicity in 1929 crater

Seismicity began on 11 December 1985, the first recorded since a well-implemented volcano monitoring network was installed in 1978. A constant low level of seismicity has been observed since December, totalling 30 events as of 4 June. Two 3-component stations were established for a month, helping to locate the shocks, at a constant depth of 1-1.5 km below the 1929 crater. Magnitudes were weak, all <2, and only a few were recorded at the Morne des Cadets observatory, 9 km SW of the epicentral area.

The seismic network is composed of five seismometers within 5 km of the summit. Seismic signals noted before the recent activity were attributed to surface phenomena such as rockfalls or local landslides.

Information Contacts: N. Girardin and A. Hirn, IPGP, France; G. Boudon and J.P. Viode, Observatoire Volcanologique de la Montagne Pelée, Martinique.
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Renowned Montagne Pelée, forming the northern end of the island of Martinique, is the most active volcano of the Lesser Antilles arc. Three major edifice failures since the late Pleistocene, the last about 9000 years ago, have left large horseshoe-shaped calderas breached to the SW inside which the modern volcano has been constructed. More than 20 major eruptions have occurred here during the past 5000 years. Extensive pyroclastic-flow deposits, incised by steep-walled ravines, mantle the slopes of the volcano. The l'Etang Sec summit crater is filled by two lava domes emplaced during the 1902 and 1929 eruptions. Historical eruptions date back to the 18th century; only two modest phreatic or phreatomagmatic eruptions took place prior to 1902. The catastrophic 1902 eruption, which destroyed the city of St. Pierre, the "Pearl of the Lesser Antilles," became the type-example of pelean eruptions and marked the onset of modern volcanological studies of the behavior of pyroclastic flows.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1929 Sep 16 1932 Dec 1 ± 30 days Confirmed 3 Historical Observations
1902 Apr 23 1905 Oct 5 Confirmed 4 Historical Observations Rivière Blanche and summit crater
1851 Aug 5 1852 Feb 1 ± 30 days Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Upper Rivière Claire valley (900 m elevation)
1792 Jan 22 1792 Apr (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Upper Rivière Claire valley
1635 (in or before) Unknown Confirmed   Historical Observations Tephra layer NRP3
1460 ± 20 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Tephra layer NRP2
1370 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Tephra layer NRP1
1340 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P1
1260 ± 20 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) NRC2 tephra
1190 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0910 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0890 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) NRC1 tephra
0720 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0650 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0450 (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0350 ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P2
0300 (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0220 ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) NMP tephra
0130 (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0050 (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0010 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P3
0200 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0300 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0440 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0590 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layers NAB2 and P4
0600 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0620 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0730 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
0890 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer NAB1
1390 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer NRS3
2100 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer NRS2
2280 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
2360 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
2430 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
2460 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer NRS1
2660 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P5
3020 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
3120 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) NPM tephra
3250 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
3290 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
3430 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P6
3500 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Tephrochronology
3820 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
3930 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer NMR
4510 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
5500 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected)
5800 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)
6220 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Vent slightly south of present summit
6450 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Vent slightly south of present summit
6610 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P8
7050 BCE ± 1000 years Unknown Confirmed   Uranium-series ESE flank (Sans Nom lava dome)
7320 BCE ± 1730 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
7750 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Uranium-series ESE flank (Aileron lava dome)
8210 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tephra layer P9

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Synonyms

Pele, Montagne

Cones

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Conil, Mont Stratovolcano 895 m 14° 50' 0" N 61° 12' 0" W
Julien, Morne Cone 365 m 14° 48' 0" N 61° 13' 0" W

Craters

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
L'etang Sec, Caldeira de Crater 1260 m 14° 49' 0" N 61° 10' 0" W
Macouba, Morne Crater 1290 m 14° 49' 0" N 61° 10' 0" W

Domes

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Aileron Dome 1108 m 14° 48' 0" N 61° 10' 0" W
Calebasse, Morne Dome
Sans Nom Dome
Mount Pelée towers above the city of St. Pierre (on the coast at the left), which the volcano destroyed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. Pelée is the most active volcano of the Lesser Antilles arc, with more than 20 major eruptions during the past 5000 years. The modern volcano was constructed on the rim of a large SW-facing horseshoe-shaped caldera whose northern wall is the ridge in the shadow on the left horizon. This caldera formed as a result of slope failure of the paleo-Pelée volcano.

Photo by Richard Fiske, 1977 (Smithsonian Institution).
The summit of Pelée volcano rises immediately above scientists from the Mount Pelée volcano observatory and the Smithsonian Institution who are taking precision leveling measurements on the west flank. This procedure, sometimes referred to as "dry tilt," detects deformation of the volcano that often precedes an eruption by measuring the precise differences in elevation between two stadia rods placed on fixed points. This technique is part of monitoring efforts by the observatory to help detect future eruptions of this scenic, but deadly volcano.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1977 (Smithsonian Institution).
This photo portrays an unusual combination of geology and history. The light-colored deposits in this outcrop south of St. Pierre are pyroclastic-flow deposits similar to those of eruptions that destroyed the city in 1902. The abundant large holes in the outcrop are not a volcanological phenomenon, but were produced by cannon balls blasted into the unconsolidated deposit during British-French wars for control of the island of Martinique.

Photo by Richard Fiske, 1977 (Smithsonian Institution).
Two lava domes fill much of the Caldiera de l'Etang Sec crater at the summit of Mount Pelee. The lava dome at the left, seen from the east rim of the crater, was formed during an eruption that began in 1929. The vegetated knob halfway down the right skyline is a lava dome from the 1902 eruption. The 1929 eruption was similiar to that of 1902, but smaller in scale. After explosive removal of part of the 1902 dome, growth of a new dome began in January 1930. Pyroclastic flows accompanied dome growth until the end of 1932.

Photo by William Melson, 1973 (Smithsonian Institution).
Mount Pelée towers above the city of St. Pierre in northern Martinique a century after the catastrophic eruption that destroyed the city in 1902. Pelée is the most active volcano of the Lesser Antilles arc, with more than 20 major eruptions during the past 5000 years. Lava domes formed during the 1902 eruption and one in 1929 form the present summit, which was constructed within a large scarp visible on the lower left horizon that formed when the volcano collapsed about 9000 years ago.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
Fireworks rise above the harbor and city of St. Pierre on May 8, 2002, marking the 100th anniversary of the catastrophic 1902 eruption. Thousands of lanterns were also placed in the harbor to commemorate the 28,000 victims of the Montagne Pelée eruption.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
This prison cell in the city of St. Pierre housed one of the only two survivors of the May 8, 1902, eruption of Mount Pelée. Devastating pyroclastic flows and surges swept down the SW flank of the volcano early in the morning and destroyed the city, killing 28,000 persons in the world's deadliest eruption during the 20th century.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
This view looks west from the 1902 lava dome within the summit crater of Mount Pelée. The area beyond the grassy knoll was part of the first portion of the ancestral volcano that underwent massive edifice collapse more than 100,000 years ago. This massive collapse produced a 25 cu km debris avalanche that swept into the Caribbean Sea up to 70 km from the coastline. Mount Pelée was subject to three major episodes of edifice collapse--the second took place about 25,000 years and the third about 9000 years ago.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
The steep-sided grassy knob in the right foreground is part of the Aileron lava dome, which formed during an eruption about 9700 years ago. This view looks to the SE towards the town of Morne Rouge (left-center), which was devastated by pyroclastic flows during the 1902 eruption. The Pleistocene Piton du Carbet volcano lies in the clouds on the right-center horizon.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
The steep-sided lava dome at the left is Aileron, which was formed about 9700 years ago. The back side of the dome was cut by the latest of three major edifice-collapse events at Mount Pelée. The eastern rim of l'Etang Sec, the current summit crater, cuts horizontally across the photo at the upper right in front of the 1929 dome on the right horizon.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
This view from the summit of Mount Pelée shows the eastern rim of l'Etang Sec, the current summit crater of Mount Pelée. The 1902 and 1920 lava domes fill much of this crater. The town with reddish roofs at the far right is Morne Rouge, affected by pyroclastic flows from the 1902 eruption.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
The 1929 lava dome forms the summit of Mount Pelée in this telephoto view from St. Pierre. The modern volcano was constructed within a scarp produced by collapse of the volcano about 9000 years ago. The irregularity on the right-hand flank is part of the eastern summit crater rim and the Aileron lava dome, which erupted about 9700 years ago.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002(Smithsonian Institution).
The 1902 lava dome fills much of the l'Etang Sec summit crater, as seen here from Morne Macouba, north of the summit. Following the catastrophic eruption on May 8, 1902, rapid growth of a summit lava dome began; it reached 350 m height by July 6. Intermittent explosive activity continued until October 31, 1903 and lava dome growth continued on a diminishing scale until October 5, 1905. The famous spine at one point rose to 1617 m, 220 m above the current summit (the 1929 lava dome), before it crumbled away.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Boudon G, Le Friant A, Villemant B, Viode J-P, 2005. Martinique. In: Lindsay J M, Robertson R E A, Shepherd J B, Ali S (eds). {Volcanic Hazard Atlas of the Lesser Antilles}, Trinidad and Tobago, Seismic Res Unit, Univ West Indies, p 127-146.

Deplus C, Le Friant A, Boudon G, Komorowski J-C, Villemant B, Harford C, Segoufin J, Cheminee J-L, 2001. Submarine evidence for large-scale debris avalanches in the Lesser Antilles arc. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 192: 145-157.

Fichaut M, Maury R C, Traineau H, Westercamp D, Joron J L, Gourgaud A, Coulon C, 1989. Magmatology of Mt. Pelee (Martinique, F.W.I.). III. Fractional crystallization versus magma mixing. J Volc Geotherm Res, 38: 189-213.

Gourgaud A, Fichaut M, Joron J -L, 1989. Magmatology of Mt. Pelee (Martinique, F.W.I.). I: Magma mixing and triggering of the 1902 and 1929 Pelean nuees ardentes. J Volc Geotherm Res, 38: 143-169.

Lacroix A, 1904. La Montagne Pelee et ses eruptions. Paris: Masson et Cie, 662 p.

Le Friant A, Boudon G, Deplus C, Villemant B, 2003. Large-scale flank collapse events during the activity of Montagne Pelee, Martinique, Lesser Antilles. J Geophys Res, 108: 2055, doi:10.1029/2001JB001624.

Mattiioli G S, Jansma P E, Jaramillo L, Smith A L, 1996. A desktop image processing and photogrammetric method for rapid volcanic hazard mapping: application to air-photo interpretation of Mount Pelee, Martinique. Bull Volc, 58: 401-410.

Perret F A, 1937. The eruption of Mt. Pelee 1929-1932. Carnegie Inst Wash Pub, 458: 1-126.

Robson G R, Tomblin J, 1966. West Indies. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 20: 1-56.

Roobol M J, Smith A L, 1976. A pattern of alternating eruptive styles. Geology, 4: 521-524.

Smith A L, Roobol M J, 1990. Mont Pelee, Martinique--A study of an active island arc volcano. Geol Soc Amer Mem, 175: 114 p.

Tanguy J C, 1994. The 1902-1905 eruptions of Montagne Pelee, Martinique: anatomy and retrospection. J Volc Geotherm Res, 60: 87-107.

Tanguy J C, 2004. Rapid dome growth at Montagne Pelee during the early stages of the 1902-1905 eruption: a reconstruction from Lacroix's data. Bull Volc, 66: 615-621.

Vincent P M, Bourdier J L, Boudon G, 1989. The primitive volcano of Mount Pelee: Its construction and partial destruction by flank collapse. J Volc Geotherm Res, 38: 1-15.

Westercamp D, Traineau H, 1983. The past 5,000 Years of volcanic activity at Mt. Pelee, Martinique, (FWI): implications for assessment of volcanic hazards. J Volc Geotherm Res, 17: 159-186.

Zlotnicki J, Boudon G, Viode J P, Delarue J F, Mille A, Bruere F, 1998. Hydrothermal circulation beneath Mount Pelee inferred by self potential surveying. Structural and tectonic implications. J Volc Geotherm Res, 84: 73-91.

Volcano Types

Stratovolcano
Caldera(s)
Lava dome(s)

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Rock Types

Major
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Minor
Dacite
Basalt / Picro-Basalt

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
251
5,025
382,633
609,576

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Pelee Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.