Pelee

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 14.809°N
  • 61.165°W

  • 1394 m
    4572 ft

  • 360120
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

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


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.

Bulletin Reports - Index


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




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


May 1986 (SEAN 11:05) Citation IconCite this Report


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.

Eruptive History


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.

Photo Gallery


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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
This prison cell in the city of St. Pierre housed one of the only two survivors of the 8 May 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 people in the world's deadliest eruption of the 20th century.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.
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).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 33 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 102152 Hypersthene dacite
NMNH 102154 Dacite
NMNH 113056-1 Beach sand
NMNH 113056-10 Tephra
NMNH 113056-11 Tephra
NMNH 113056-12 Tephra
NMNH 113056-13 Tephra
NMNH 113056-14 Tephra
NMNH 113056-15 Tephra
NMNH 113056-16 Tephra
NMNH 113056-17 Tephra
NMNH 113056-18 Tephra
NMNH 113056-2 Tephra
NMNH 113056-3 Tephra
NMNH 113056-4 Tephra
NMNH 113056-5 Tephra
NMNH 113056-6 Tephra
NMNH 113056-7 Tephra
NMNH 113056-8 Tephra
NMNH 113056-9 Tephra
NMNH 115748 Hypersthene andesite
NMNH 115749 Hypersthene andesite
NMNH 115750 Hypersthene andesite
NMNH 115751 Pumice
NMNH 115752 Pumice
NMNH 115753 Pumice
NMNH 116782 Breadcrust volcanic bomb
NMNH 74751 Volcanic dust
NMNH 74753 Volcanic dust
NMNH 74761 Volcanic dust
NMNH 76963 Volcanic dust
NMNH 88959 Hypersthene andesite
NMNH 88960 Hypersthene andesite

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