The distribution, stratigraphic relationships and fragmental components of the May 8 and 20, 1902, pyroclastic flows from Mt. Pelée, Martinique, together with eyewitness accounts, suggest the following explanation for those eruptions. The eruptions were vertically directed magmatic (perhaps initiated phreatically), and contained abundant juvenile lithics from congealed magma of the dome and neck. This resulted in a two-part eruption column having (1) a dense, lithic-charged part which collapsed into the crater and flowed out of a pre-existing notch in its side, giving rise to pyrochlastic flows, and (2) a magmatically derived column containing gases, juvenile vitric material and crystals which largely by-passed the neck and dome and escaped into the atmosphere. All of the energy of the flows was apparently focused through the notch. They emerged fully turbulent and flowed down Rivière Blanche. Gravity segregation of large and abundant fragments soon resulted in a dense, high-concentration, poorly fluidized block-and-ash flow confined to the valley, leaving above a fully turbulent, high-energy ash-cloud surge. As the ash-cloud surge moved down the mountain, it continued to expand outward. The process of gravity segregation continued as the ash-cloud surge expanded, resulting in secondary block-and-ash underflows. Toward St. Pierre, the secondary block-and-ash flows developed on a gently sloping upland surface 100 m or more above the valley of Rivière Blanche. The turbulent, fragment-depleted surges above the secondary block-and-ash flows maintained sufficient energy to devastate the landscape outward to about 3000 m, including St. Pierre. The surges refracted around obstacles and in one place, moved up a small valley in a direction opposite to the main flows.