Monday, April 27, 2009

Unwelcome Protrusion - Mont Pelé Erupts on Ascension Day, 1902

The Caribbean is quite well known for its volcanoes, which stand in a line between St Kitts and Grenada, where the Caribbean tectonic plate is gradually forcing its way under the Atlantic plate. They are very active, relatively. And a few people will have heard of the catastrophic eruption of Mt Pelé on Ascension Day morning in May 1902, which killed 30,000 people within a couple of minutes and completely destroyed the town of St Pierre, then the cultural capital of Martinique and the French West Indies.

But what about this for a curious natural phenomenon? In the September following the eruption, as the mountain continued to erupt, a column of solidified lava began to protrude from the top of Mont Pelé. The 'Tower of Pelé, a volcanic plug between 300 and 500 feet across, was so hot that it glowed. Over the next month it pushed its way up out of the crater until it reached a height of nearly 1000 feet. On one day it managed to grow 78 feet, but with each new volcanic eruption, the material split and cracked and eventually in 1929 it collapsed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that is scary, imagine it killed 30,000 and completely destroyed St. Pierre


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