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The 1902 Eruption of Mt. Pelee

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Millie T

on 28 August 2013

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Transcript of The 1902 Eruption of Mt. Pelee

The 1902 Eruption of Mt. Pelee
Located on the Northern end of the island Martinique, it is in the chain of Caribbean islands and belongs to the country France.
The Caribbean islands are located near a ridge called the Puerto-Rico Trench. The amount of volcanic activity is shown in red, and is the result of the plate movement between the Atlantic and Caribbean plate. The chain of islands have a strong spacial interaction with the Puerto-Rico trench. As the trench is in a curve shape, the islands form an arc linearly. The islands are in a convergent plate boundary, so when the plates collide with huge force, volcanic activity will happen.
The information from this diagram shows that the convergent plate boundary affects the way the volcano has formed. It is between the two plates, the Caribbean and the North American Plate. As the two convergent plate boundaries are moving, it creates a destructive margin that makes the Ocean plate subducts and melts due to the friction and the heat. As that happens, the pressure builds and underwater earthquakes happen, leading all the pressure formed to make the volcano erupt. There is a strong spacial association as volcanic island chains are the cause of subduction zones in the plate boundaries. The arc found in the Caribbean islands is due to the subduction of the North American Plate under the Caribbean Plate

Mt.Pelee's eruption was so weird and wacky that scientists named the eruption after the volcano itself. The pelean type eruption consists of a Pyroclastic Flow, or Nuee Ardente, quickly travelling down the slope of the volcano. The cloud is a glowing avalanche of hot gas and rocks (pumice, ash). As Mt. Pelee is a stratovolcano, also known as a composite, the sides of the volcano is usually very steep, so the speed of the Nuee Ardente would be traveling very fast down the slope.

A composite volcano is steep towards the summit and the slope becomes gentle towards the base. The steep volcanic cone is composed of lava fragments as well as other volcanic products. Most stratovolcanoes are highly explosive Pelean eruptions. They include Pyroclastic flows and toxic gases that go down slopes at hurricane-force speeds. They are polygenic and erupt infrequently, with intervals of hundreds of years between eruptions. They are formed typically at convergent plate margins.

Standing at the height of 1362m on the 8th of May 1902, the volcano of Mt. Pelee erupted. It was exactly 8 to 8 in the morning. The time of the eruption was so precise, the military clocked stopped at this time. The volcano erupted, shooting two Nuee Ardente out of the crater. One flew up into the sky, and the other rolled down the slope towards St. Pierre. Going at 100km/h with the temperature of approx 800C, it swept down the hill, set bonfires, and completely demolished the town in less than 3 minutes. Thousands of barrels of rum exploded, sending flaming liquid down to the sea. Many boats were hit from the flying rocks and ash that were erupted. Out of the 29,000 people who lived in St. Pierre, only two survived, a convicted felon and a little girl. However the exact number is unknown, as there are stories about a shoe maker as well.

After the eruption, the town of St.Piree was in ruins. There was no living soul in sight. By the end of July, the acting governor sent the refugees back as he thought the camps were too crowed in his town. Disaster struck again on the 30th of August, the volcano erupted with another pyroclastic flow, resulting in the deaths of the 1000 refugees.
Before the eruption, St Pierre was a busy and very attractive city, it had been called "Paris of the West Indies", with the many theaters and grand parties. The main reason was the waterfront, as nearly everything and everyone came and went by boat. As the roads leading to the other cities were poor in condition, many found the sea a faster connection to Fort de France. Also, rum, products and agriculture were exported and consumer goods imported by ship. So St. Pierre was very much a sea fairing city, relying on their ports. On the 7th of May, the volcano shook with a deafening roar, however the Mayor who wanted everyone to be present for the upcoming election on the 11th, he reassured the citizens to stay. However he didn't consider the deep "V" shaped slope that would lead to the endangerment of the town.
A negative short term impact on the population after the last eruption in 1902, lead to the whole population being wiped out.

A positive long term impact is due to the cheap land prices and the ruins left, people went back and started to rebuild the city again.

A negative long term impact is that due to the scorched land, it was hard to plant new crops, thus agriculture levels decreased. As well as the animals in the area have either died or flown away.
Mt Pelee and how it changed
Mt Pelee as mentioned before is a composite volcano, made of the materials erupted out of the volcano, like pumice or ash. The Morne Macouba is the first original cone of Mt Pelee. And eruptions prior formed the all the different browns and pink parts of the volcano. After the 1902 eruption, the green areas were a new addition to the volcano. Currently the volcano sits at 1397m in height.
Note: this is not Mt Pelee

By Millie Tse
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