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The eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902 was one of the deadliest eruptions recorded in history. Standing at 4,583 feet, Mount Pelee is located on the coast of the French island of Martinique and neighbors the town of St. Pierre. The mountain was known as a “gentle giant” and hadn’t had so much as a grumble since 1851. The first recordings of the mountain’s reawakening were in late April of 1902 when light tremors shook St. Pierre and sent fumes down the coast.

The real trouble began the night of May 2, 1902 with a small eruption. The article from Earth Magazine stated, “Witnesses said Pelee’s summit seemed to catch fire, spewing glowing rocks and rendering the midnight sky incandescent.” A few days later on May 5, a large crater wall broke causing a mudslide to come rushing down the mountain at speeds of 60 miles per hour. The mudslide cleared out a sugar processing plant killing almost two dozen people during the process. The combination of debris, mudslide, and hot water created a 9 foot tall tsunami that pushed onto the coast of St. Pierre, also known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” As if the tremors, fumes, mudslide, and tsunami weren’t enough, insects and snakes rushed down the mountain into the streets of the city to escape the fumes from Mount Pelee.

On May 6, Mount Pelee was showing no signs of cooling or slowing down and blue flames began to develop at the top of the crater from magma. May 7 brought about the eruption of Soufriere on the neighboring town of St. Vincent killing 1,500 people. Authorities insisted that St. Pierre was safe and urged everyone to remain calm. However, May 8 brought about Ascension Day and in a matter of minutes a blast from Mount Pelee completely obliterated the entire town of St. Pierre and nearly all of its 30,000. Most of the deaths were a result of breathing in the toxic fumes and gas that reached temperatures of 660-750 degrees Fahrenheit. Mount Pelee’s last eruption was recorded in 1932 but was not nearly as devastating as the eruption of 1902. It seems that the gentle giant is back to resting but there are a lot of eyes and ears monitoring her to ensure that a catastrophic event like the eruption of 1902 doesn’t happen again. ss

2.The Mount Vesuvius eruption of August 24th, 79 CE in Italy is one of the most famous volcanic eruptions in all of human history. Responsible for the loss of upwards of 16,000 lives in Pompeii and Herculaneum, it is one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions ever recorded. The destruction of the area surrounding Mount Vesuvius was absolute, completely wiping out all life in Pompeii and leaving only a single witness of its eruption: Pliny the Younger. Pliny’s account of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption is one of the first written records of a volcanic eruption. Additionally, volcanoes are named after the Roman god of fire: Vulcan. Mount Vesuvius was formed by the African plate converging and subducting underneath the Eurasian plate and is the singular active volcano in continental Europe.ac


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