In September 2023, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee validated Martinique’s application focusing on the “volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the pitons of northern Martinique.” As part of the preparation for this application, BRGM worked to showcase the geological heritage, highlighting the heritage, scientific, educational and scenic value of eighteen sites of interest.
10 November 2023
Aerial view of the summit of Mount Pelée and the Pitons du Carbet

Aerial view of the summit of Mount Pelée and the Pitons du Carbet 


The need

BRGM Martinique, the Paris Institute of Planetary Physics (IPGP), the Graziella Barsacq landscape studio and the Martinique Regional Directorate for Environment, Planning and Housing (DEAL) joined forces to produce the management plan for the UNESCO World Heritage designation of the “volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the pitons of northern Martinique”, a geological and landscape analysis of the remarkable sites located in and around this sector in the buffer zone. 

The results

This analysis led to the identification of eighteen outstanding sites that bear witness to the major construction periods of the three volcanic ranges of Morne Jacob, Pitons du Carbet and Mount Pelée. They include panoramas, outcrops or isolated features whose two kinds of value may be complementary or distinct: a major heritage or scientific value, and an educational, scenic or tourist value for public information purposes. Secondly, a landscape analysis was carried out to propose measures for managing and enhancing these sites. The resulting descriptive geological fact sheets present, for each site:

  • The geographical context, with a presentation of the site and its observation point(s). This presentation includes information on access, coordinates, type (point, linear, surface or panoramic) and type of ownership of the site, as well as the commune(s) and cadastral plot(s) concerned.
  • The geological context with commentary, illustrations and references. This refers to what can be seen and describes how it fits into the history of the volcanic complex.
  • A presentation of the protective measures that can be implemented on the site to point out the presence and guarantee the understanding of geological features of educational or scientific interest.
  • A presentation of the landscape and ecological heritage and proposals for enhancing the site.

The fact sheets are organised according to the chronological order of geological events in the north of Martinique, covering the Morne Jacob volcano (the oldest), the Carbet volcanic complex (intermediate) and the Mont Conil - Mount Pelée complex (the most recent). Maps also show the spatial distribution of sites in conjunction with geological units.

Explanatory diagram of a Plinian eruption.

Explanatory diagram of a Plinian eruption. 

© BRGM - V. Bellier

Using the results

In September 2023, the volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the pitons of northern Martinique were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The report presenting the eighteen descriptive sheets was included in the application.

The sites of geological interest studied will soon be added to the regional geological inventory. On the basis of this study and the classification of sites according to their particular interest (e.g. of scientific, educational or scenic value), protective measures could be proposed. These would include geotope protection decrees.

The partners

  • IPGP (Georges Boudon)
  • Graziella Barsacq landscape studio
  • DEAL, Martinique
  • France Relance