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On 1902-May-8th the volcano of Mount Pelée on the island of Martinique underwent a colossal eruption that produced a pyroclastic flow that obliterated the town of St Pierre situated on its slope, killing all but two of the town’s 28000 inhabitants.
In the months following, a lava ‘spine’ emerged from the crater, pictured here. It was the first time it had been possible for geologists to study one of these throughout its lifecycle, for although the existence of them had been inferred from geological evidence, they are very weak structures lasting only a short while: this one collapsed into rubble 1903-March. Early-on, though, whilst it was still ‘fresh’, the glow of the hot lava inside showing through cracks could clearly be seen at nights. It attained a maximum height of about 1000ft.
To get this picture, someone must have lugged 1902 photography equipment to the top of the mountain & gone to within a short distance of a crater from which only a few months earlier a pyroclastic flow sufficient to obliterate a town of 28000 inhabitants had spewed, set-up the camera there, & then brought it all down again intact.
There is a more detailed account of the eruption here.
Here’s another one. It was probably geologist Angelo Heilprin who took the picture, who was quoted as saying that this fast-growing tower impressed him more even than the Grand Canyon.
I think I got this right, but one of the two survivors was a person thrown in prison the night prior for a drunken brawl. The concrete cell was so poorly ventilated that it kept him from breathing the toxic fumes.
On a side note, Martinique is absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend it to those who don’t like the phoniness of resorts and touristy islands.